It’s possible that the most complicated risk assessment exercise you will ever complete will be as a pregnant woman. From the moment the little blue line appears on the plastic stick, the endless risk advisory machine will step into motion. Baby books, NHS staff, friends, family, email newsletters, social media, the printed press, TV and even well-meaning strangers will start to inform you about the risks to your baby.
It’s easy at this point to feel like a vessel storing cargo, rather than a rational human being with its own physiology, emotions and independent thought. There are some obvious things you are advised to do immediately – take Folic Acid supplements, give up alcohol and if you are a smoker, quit. That all seems sensible and obvious. Don’t ingest poisons and take the material that helps your baby’s nervous system develop. So far, so easy.
Then comes the advice about all the other things you have to stay away from: the good cheeses, pâté, the good stuff in your medicine cabinet (Ibuprofen and Night Nurse), things that aren’t pasteurised (including home-made ice cream and mayonnaise), certain types of fish, cat poo (no complaints from me!), caffeine, lambing and it goes on and on and on. I can’t actually remember everything. Initially, I would Google things when deciding what to eat but that wore out quite quickly.
At the same time as you are giving a long and wide-ranging do and don’t list, you are tired, possibly nauseous, and being told to relax. Relax. While Googling your shopping list for safety. Nil by mouth suddenly looks like a good option – especially…