Kerry Grens, a reporter for WHYY, reported yesterday on pregnancy and the healthcare system, particularly in Philadelphia. She specifically talks about screening tests, unnecessary interventions, and potentially fatal risks being presented to pregnant women out of context. She also mentions a woman who makes pills out of placentas to deal with post-partum depression. YUCK. YUCK.
She stresses the idea of pregnancy as a healthy condition which can easily get “medicalized” by testing, stress, and fears. Her report is directly in line with one of my recent posts about pregnancy and healthcare, but, like a good reporter, her article is well-researched and well-edited.
I’ve read in numerous books, online forums, and blogs that women often remark that they have never felt more healthy than when they are pregnant. Writers, by sharing this sentiment, are implicitly acknowledging that pregnancy is not accepted as an inherently healthy condition. In online forums women write: “I’ve never felt healthier!”–as if they were expecting to feel unhealthy.
In contrast, the only feeling I would share on an online message board would be: “I’m not feeling healthy. What gives?” This time in my life is naturally my healthiest time. I have never been more focused on my body and its health. No alcohol. Lots of fruits and vegetables. Extra protein. Emphasis on whole grains. Exercise. Lots of exercise. Happy. Excited. And this is all easy for me because, at the risk of sounding self-righteous, I am not doing it for myself, but for a completely vulnerable human being.
I recognize, of course, that I am in an enviable position. I work from home on my own schedule thereby minimizing my daily stresses. I have a supportive husband. We know that we want this baby. We are ready for this baby. I felt far from healthy in my first trimester, but now, well into the second trimester I feel great.
The same cannot be said for other women. They may be uncertain if they want a baby. Perhaps they are single or in an unhealthy and unhappy relationship. Nausea and feeling uncomfortable may persist throughout the nine months. Money may be an issue, creating stress. I understand that many women many not feel healthy during pregnancy for a variety of reasons.
What I don’t understand, however, is the widespread belief that a healthy pregnancy is an exceptional pregnancy. Pregnancy is not a medical condition. It is merely a stage of life that many women experience in many different ways, but automatically viewing it as unhealthy or as a challenge does not need to be the conventional wisdom.