For those who don’t know, the “third rail,” is an East Coast expression relative to the electrical current that drives most subways. It is the one you don’t want to touch, lest you die.
For decades, politicians have identified various “third rails,” most notably Social Security, Medicare and other entitlements; various topics no one should go near, as George W. Bush found out in 2005 when he tried to start a discussion about reforming retirement benefits in America and essentially ended his presidency’s relevancy just as his second term was getting started.
The third rail of pregnancy in America is women drinking alcohol. Much as we have done with the general public in regards to smoking, we have done a fantastic job of shaming women so loudly into believing that alcohol consumption while with child is so bad, that we have made it all but impossible for a woman to have a drink at the time in her life when she probably needs one more than ever before.
Of course, like usual, there is almost literally zero scientific evidence to support our hysteria, but since when did modern day America allow facts to get in the way of a good bullying? Let’s touch that third rail and see how close I get to electrocuted, shall we?
As more and more studies are done and various researchers and scientists look back at the last 3 decades of this subject, we find that almost all of what we have been taught, told, and believe, is quite literally made up.
For example, did you know that there’s basically no such thing as “crack babies,” despite the scare of the 80’s? Now certainly no one is suggesting that you should take crack when you’re pregnant, but no one is suggesting you take crack anytime. As the Boston Globe reported late last year:
“…there have been times in the past when warnings about the risk of drug use by pregnant women turned out to have been exaggerated. During the crack scare of the 1980s, there was widespread concern about “crack babies” and the damage crack cocaine could inflict on a developing fetus. But a multidecade study of those kids has found no evidence of harm. They learned, grew, and moved through life, very much like their non-exposed peers.
So what about alcohol? A fairly safe form of escape for reasonable, responsible adults, that is also sometimes even prescribed or recommended as having health benefits?
Well, for starters a lot of us kids from the 70’s have liked to use the refrain that “well our parents drank and smoked when they were pregnant with us and we turned out fine.” That’s clearly a lame and poorly thought out argument since you never point to previous bad behavior as a way to justify current potential bad behavior.
But what if it turns out there’s provable scientific evidence that makes that lame argument stand up against the facts and test of time?
“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) cites a study from 1984, suggesting that as little as one drink per day can affect infant growth. But several more recent, international studies have found that low levels of alcohol consumption have no impact on fetal health or later childhood development.”
Hmmm…one study from 32 years ago which started the hysteria versus decades of dozens of studies around the world which disprove the initial study? Interesting. Let’s all keep believing that first study and since it allows us to be as judgmental as possible, shall we?
To its’ credit, AAP, while still advising against any alcohol consumption at all by pregnant women, does at least admit that it’s completely full of crap:
“The Academy of Pediatrics concedes that while heavy drinking can severely harm developing babies, there’s no evidence or consensus about the effects of occasional alcohol consumption. In fact, several recent studies have concluded that casual drinking is largely benign.”
Oh well, that’s lovely. We admit that we have absolutely no basis whatsoever for the fear tactics we have instilled in American society, but we’re going to continue to do it. Are these people 5th graders?
I’ve heard the argument made by various people over the years of “why would you want to risk it at all while you’re carrying your baby?” That makes sense to me, it really does, and in the end, no one will defend your right to raise your child the way you want to and see fit more than I. But’s let not be hypocritical while we’re making our various decisions, shall we? If your baseline is “why risk it,” then I assume they’ll be absolutely no consuming of fast foods, sodas, and any type of prescription medication since there’s plenty of potential evidence that any of those things could be harmful and, after all, why risk it?
Come to think of it, you probably shouldn’t drive while pregnant, take a bath or walk anywhere, ever, since, after all, why risk it?
As I said earlier, no one is suggesting you get hammered every night while with child but perhaps a little of the shaming of those who make a different, yet still potentially totally responsible decision can stop? Maybe we can all let the woman carrying a bowling ball in her tummy for 10 months (google it kids…pregnancy is actually 10 months, not 9…more misinformation) enjoy a much needed glass of wine with her dinner? Maybe, just maybe, we can all pull our heads out of our asses and start actually researching things and stop trusting the all mighty, not all knowing doctors and fear based media. Maybe, but this America 2016 so I know that’s hopeless.