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Government Health Advice For Pregnant Mums: 'You're On Your Own'

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Today, the Government relaunches its Start4Life (little sister of the Change4Life) campaign to help mothers-to-be have healthier pregnancies.

And it is definitely 'mothers' they're out to educate.

In the Department of Health's advert, first released two years ago, a bland, blond-haired woman smiles out from behind a scrubbed wooden kitchen table, and begins to fashion a baby out of pink plasticine, as a voice-over coos in gooey tones:

"From the moment you decide to have a baby her health is in your hands. How you look after yourself, how you care for her, and feed her and start to get her active, will all affect how she ends up."

And if ladies hadn't got the point by now that they're in charge of EVERYTHING, as her voice drones on, the mother's plastic creature gradually evolves from baby to toddler.

Scroll down to see advert

The advert was relaunched last night at the premiere of the Hollywood blockbuster What to Expect When You're Expecting. And the two couldn't have been more different.

In the movie, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez and Katherine Heigl march through exciting careers, as they argue the toss on all matters relating to their future baby's health with their partners. Whereas in the British version, a Northern woman gently lectures ladies about their pre-birth responsibilities, woman-to-woman, over a cup of tea.

"After all young lady, it's a good time to chat while he's at work now isn't it?", the voice-over lady hints under her breath.

Now, I'm not arguing it's unreasonable to encourage mothers to protect the health of their babies during pregnancy by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But I question whether this kind of campaign - directed, as it is, exclusively at women - is appropriate (or even relevant) to the 21st century?

The tacit assumption that the fate of a newborn's health is the sole responsibility of the mother isn't just regressive, it's downright counterproductive. Smoking, drinking and eating turkey twizzlers are all habits that are unlikely to be indulged in by mothers alone. To expect temperance from one half of a couple is at worst unfair and at best naive.

Where are the lectures from by pastel-jumper-wearing Government ministers to new dads about their need to be a healthy-living role models?

So, while I hope this advert makes certain women stop and think about lighting up a cigarette over their baby bump - I hope other parents, who believe kids deserve to grow up in a home where both mum and dad take responsibility, don't find it too offensive.

If you want to learn about pre-parenting, skip the community announcement and watch the movie instead.

At one point, Heigl's husband refuses a tequila shot so he can remain in solidarity with his non-drinking wife. Now that's a modern family.

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