In Which I am to Organize my Life Around the Possibility of Pregnancy

Like many empty headed ladies who don’t take seriously their inevitable and impending baby making futures, I do not particularly worry that what I consume will damage a future baby.  The CDC has just called me out on this, with its latest recommendation that I should never consume alcohol unless on birth control.  (Obviously, birth control is easily accessible without stigma and it is simple to find just the right pill or IUD or whatever best works for the individual without worries about the cost of prescriptions and doctor visits.)  Really, this is all to protect any fetuses I create (which I will obviously be gestating and birthing once I create them, because anything else would be unthinkable) from the horrors of any birth defects caused by my alcohol consumption.  There is some evidence to suggest that men consuming alcohol creates birth defects but ladies are the problem here, don’t be silly.  There is also not clear evidence that light drinking has any effect on fetuses, but obviously for us empty headed ladies, all drinking is binge drinking.

I get it, birth defects are a problem.   Unplanned pregnancies are a problem.  Unprotected sex is a problem (and by the way, oral contraceptives are not sufficient protection unless for sex with partner(s) whose medical history is trusted).  Unplanned pregnancies are not ideal situations for creating children because people do not organize their lives around the possibility of children and it is unrealistic and presumptuous to expect them to do so.   It is also sexist to address concerns only to women when lecturing people about unplanned pregnancy.

It would be much more helpful, and less galling, for the CDC to recommend safe sex for everyone, not just women of childbearing age.  As far as the possibility of birth defects goes, instead of suggesting that all women who might ever have children be abstaining from things unless on contraceptives, just have lists of what to start avoiding before attempting pregnancy,  Have some realistic guidelines for helping people who have found themselves unexpectedly pregnant and may want to have a child calculate the risk of birth defects based on their behavior during the time leading up to and during early pregnancy.  Add resources for early detection of birth defects and just prenatal care in general for everyone.  A lot of women in the U.S. have trouble accessing prenatal care.  Yes, the most common reason for delayed care is a lack of knowledge of pregnancy.  If the CDC really wants us to behave as though we are pregnant all the time, recommending pregnancy tests just as a common practice for anyone engaging in sexual activity, and investing in pregnancy tests easier and less unpleasant than peeing on a thing, would seem to be more directly useful than a list of things we shouldn’t be doing just in case we are pregnant.

Featured image credit: William J Serson via Flickr

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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.

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