When a woman finds out she’s pregnant, she receives an overload of information on what is no longer allowed because consuming some products during pregnancy can be harmful to the developing fetus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (most well-known as CDC) made a surprising recommendation last week for sexually active women who are not currently using birth control.
The CDC report urged women who intend to become pregnant or could become pregnant – to avoid alcohol. Because approximately 50% of all pregnancies not unplanned and most women do not know they are expecting until weeks 4-6 of the pregnancy – the CDC’s suggestion does make some sense because exposure to alcohol during fetal development could negatively harm the unborn baby.
However, the report was not well-received among all women of child-bearing age. Principal deputy director of the CDC acknowledged this disconnect when she spoke to the New York Times late last week. “We weren’t as clear as we had hoped to be.”
For me, I felt overwhelmed when I was pregnant and my OB gave me the “Book of NO”, a packet of outlined items I should no longer eat, drink, use, or consume. Deli meats, certain fish, caffeinated beverages, plastic cups and utensils, and even some cosmetics were on the list my doctors recommended I should avoid. To read that the CDC was then pushing for non-pregnant women to avoid alcohol because they could possibly harm their unborn (even not-yet-conceived) babies seemed a bit of a stretch.
What has happened to good common sense? What happened to the concept that a woman’s body is her own body? A woman who is trying to conceive, a woman expecting to be pregnant soon, or a woman who thinks she may become pregnant will use good common sense and cut down her use of dangerous products such as alcohol and cigarettes because she knows it’s in the best interest of her baby. It won’t be the CDC’s recommendation that makes her avoid things that could harm her baby – it will be decided on her own.
What counts as birth control to the CDC? Hormonal methods? IUDs? Rhythm method? Will our drivers’ licenses and Passports show that we are currently taking the Pill so that our government can decide if we are allowed to use certain products?
Last week the Washington Post called this suggestion, “incredibly condescending” and I agree. What happens when an overly worried lawmaker takes this information and tries to propose legislation to enact this suggestion from the CDC? Will liquor stores stop selling alcohol to a woman of child-bearing age? Will a woman need to prove she’s on birth control in order to be served when she’s out with her girlfriends?
What do you think about the CDC’s suggestion? Good? Bad? Insulting?