No tinned food, ready meals, cosmetics or shower gels: How (not) to prepare us for motherhood

I’m glad this report didn’t come out when I was expecting my baby recently

Share

My daughter is two weeks old, and – judging by the volume of noise she is capable of generating every time I attempt to sit down and write this column – thriving.

This is not something I take for granted. I know there is nothing that any pregnant woman or new mother can do that guarantees a healthy baby, and am grateful every time I look at her increasingly chubby face.

But I do like to think that I did right by my girl during her nine-month tenancy in my body. I barely had a drink. I sacrificed my favourite esoteric weekend breakfast of poached egg yolks (no whites) on toast. I didn’t even recline in my seat for the last few weeks, despite having a beach ball for a belly, lest it encouraged her to lie “spine to spine” with me and make birth more difficult (which the little darling duly did anyway).

And yet as I sat in bed feeding her this morning, listening to Today on Radio 4, I discovered that I had spent my pregnancy risking the life and limb of my unborn child. My apparent failing, according to a new report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, was not to avoid the modern world.

Pregnant women, the report said, might want to avoid tinned food, ready meals and cosmetics, including shower gel, among other staples of daily life, in case chemicals within them damage their baby’s development. This is not because there is a proven risk, it would seem, but because the experts aren’t sure yet whether there might be. They’re not trying to scare anyone, the authors said, just inform and offer a “practical approach” for anyone who is “concerned about this issue” and wishes to “play safe in order to minimise their baby’s exposure”.

That’s nice of them. Except how many pregnant women do you think there are who hadn’t given this potentially non-existent danger a moment’s thought but are now binning the Radox and wondering whether that tin of spaghetti hoops they had when they were too knackered to cook dinner has given their child irreparable brain damage? If these ubiquitous products are potentially harmful, none of us should be using them until we’re sure.

But that sort of advice doesn’t get issued to the general public, especially not in such sweeping and impractical terms. Only to the group who are already juggling a hundred, often conflicting, dietary and lifestyle stipulations, and who are the most likely to feel guilty if they don’t follow it. Practical advice for anyone who wishes to play it safe. The implication being what – you are, of course, entitled to play it fast and loose with your baby’s wellbeing if you prefer?

I’m glad this report hadn’t come out when I was pregnant, even if that does mean that I ate the odd baked bean. I had enough to think about already. The best thing that anyone can do for the health of expectant mothers, and by extension their children, is to refrain from issuing any more advice until they are absolutely sure it is necessary.

Twitter: @franyeoman

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

ICT Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a qualified ...

DT Design and Technology Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are urgently for ...

Maths Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an experienc...

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

Day In a Page

 

Naturism criminalised: Why not being able to bare all is a bummer

Simon Usborne
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on