So here we are, the first post. I’ve been telling family I’m going to do this for a while now, without much clue as to where to start. There are so many areas to cover, and one day I would love to have the time to write a website that is easy to navigate, with all the key topics easily accessible. Truth is though, I just don’t have the time right now with my two germ spreaders (girlbug and boybug) keeping me on my toes!!
This post has been kick started by a post on social media. I don’t know the person posting, but it was on a local mums group. It’s the type of post I see a lot: “ladies, I am 13 weeks pregnant and I’ve eaten a prawn. Will the baby be ok? Do I need to go to the doctors?”. I’m paraphrasing, but that lady’s panic will be know to a large proportion of those of you who have been pregnant, I’m sure.
Where should you go for the definitive answer as to what you should be eating? Short answer: it’s all about balancing risks, so there is no definitive answer.
In England, NHS choices provides the authoritative advice on what to eat and avoid during pregnancy. While I am far from a conspiracy theorist, the information on this site is subject to pressures that readers should be aware of. As I hinted at before, it’s all about balancing risk, and therefore open to interpretation.
Take listeria, for example. This ubiquitous bacterial infection can be found in soil and survives (and replicates) well at refrigerator temperature. This means it could be present in or on many raw or cold foods. But, we couldn’t tell pregnant women never to eat anything cold! Instead, the government bodies responsible for food and health (NHS, Department of Health, Public Health England and Food Standards Agency) work together to determine which foods pose the most risk and where to draw the line. This is one of the reasons that guidelines differ over time and between countries. Added to this is the accountability theses bodies have. Be too cautious and you may have a detrimental affect on food businesses with no improvement to health, be too lenient and people may get seriously ill. A hard balancing act to perform.
This is really the only approach that public bodies can take. They have to be accessible to the whole population, and provide guidelines for those who may not be able to understand and balance the risks for themselves, or who may choose not to do the level of research required to do so.
However, women do make their own risk assessments during pregnancy, all the time. And sometimes not based on science. Some may make the same choices regardless of the information they are given, but I’m sure some would make different decisions if they were given more information about food science. Furthermore, an individuals risk assessment may differ greatly to that of a public body, and so I think it’s really important women have the information readily available so that they can make informed decisions, if they so wish.
My first section of the blog is going to be entitled “can I eat x while I’m pregnant?” I’ll look at the current recommendations in England, the infections that we’re worried about, what food they might be in, how common they are, and what happens if you are infected. Then talk about my own risk assessment and how to make yours!
As the title says, you’ve got to start somewhere!