STYLE

Should Pregnant Women Be Wrapped In Cotton Wool?

15/10/2014 12:33 | Updated 22 May 2015

Of all the things people say to you when you're pregnant, 'Are you sure that's wise in your condition?' is surely the most annoying, closely followed by, 'You shouldn't be eating that', and, 'Just take it easy and concentrate on the baby'.

Pregnancy isn't an illness, so why does society treat it as such? There are, of course, health problems involved in pregnancy - morning sickness can't be very pleasant, especially if you're among the one in 150 women who suffer from the severe form, called hyperemesis. That's when you vomit so much you can't even keep a mouthful of water down. Sorry, too much information.

But besides things like morning sickness, pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, there's no reason why a pregnant woman shouldn't be a glowing picture of health. Despite that, once a woman announces she's expecting it's as if she suddenly turns into a strange, fragile creature who has to be treated like cut glass.

So I was interested to read about Sam Haddad, a Guardian blogger. Sam, who recently had her first baby, is a keen cyclist. She believes the fact that she cycled right up until the end of her pregnancy led to a happy and relatively easy labour.

But cycling with a bump wasn't exactly a breeze - thanks to other people's attitudes. 'You're not still cycling to work, are you? Is that safe?' were questions that rang in her ears. Then there was the taxi driver who bawled at her - after cutting her up in a bus lane, by the way - for cycling 'in her condition'. Even her friends begged her to stop riding during the later stages.

But why? If smart women like Sam want to cycle direct to the delivery ward and are fit enough to do so, what right does anyone have to try and stop them?

It wouldn't happen in Holland or Denmark, where cycling is virtually prescribed for mums-to-be. Yet over here the advice on cycling during pregnancy is conflicting, to say the least.

Woe betide those who gain too much weight while they're pregnant, with the latest study suggesting obese women risk having a premature birth. Yet many experts - including the NHS and National Childbirth Trust - say cycling in pregnancy should be avoided. Why? Because there's a risk you'll fall.

Wait a minute. Doesn't anyone run the risk of falling off their bike, pregnant or not? Does that mean it's acceptable to take a tumble and get squished by a number 52 bus as long as you're not with child?

And while we're taking about risk, don't pregnant women endanger themselves and their unborn babies whenever they cross the road or get into a car? Heck, they'll be advising against expectant mums walking and driving too, if we're not careful.

If you really want something to tut tut at, save your energy for women who smoke while they're pregnant (a crime on a par with serial killing, if the looks pregnant puffers get are anything to go by). The latest figures condemn women from Blackpool, one of three of whom smoke during pregnancy. Oh the shame.

There again, while I would never condone smoking - or drinking, for that matter - during pregnancy, it's absolutely no business of mine if some women chose to do so.

As for pregnant cyclists, I have one thing to say: You go girls.

By: Christine Morgan

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