We are often reading about opinions on pregnancy and work-related issues surrounding pregnancy. The Prime Minister of New Zealand’s pregnancy announcement sparked a huge debate about a woman’s rights in pregnancy but pregnancy itself isn’t discussed enough. If you are reading this, your current health started during your mum’s pregnancy. You were entirely dependent on your mother’s health to provide you with and preserve your life. We all seek good health and if you aren’t healthy, it can be costly and affects every single aspect of your life.
For most parents, nothing is more important than the health and wellbeing of their child. The pain parents go through when their children develop disease, whether they are minor or major, can be life changing and even alconsuming for the entire family. So why don’t we talk about health in pregnancy more?
Humans can smell trillions of smells, see millions of colours and recognise hundreds o sounds; women grow highly complex beings inside them. A baby’s brain doubles in size within the first year of life and a woman can exclusively breastfeed for 6 months providing all the nutrients necessary for the further complex development of her baby – yet we know more about tomatoes than breast milk. The Duchess of Cambridge spoke out about the importance of maternal and child development this week saying “We all know how important childhood is; and how the early years shape us for life”
We also need a focus on parenting and family support. After listening to those working in this complex area, my own view is that children’s experiences in their early years are fundamental. They lay the foundations not only for healthy outcomes during the teenage years, but also for adulthood.”
The discussion surrounding health and wellbeing in pregnancy is limited in comparison to various topics widely discussed in the press, on TV and on social media. Since childhood I have been fascinated by pregnancy and my curiosity about pregnancy was encouraged by my parents, but I lacked encouragement most other guiding resources teenagers refer to. If it wasn’t for my parents I may never have become a midwife.
All pregnant women are precious and vulnerable members of society and should not be expected to just “get on with it” or to know what to do. Anxiety and depression is hitting record level highs and my concern is that this cycle will continue on to affect their babies. The Blank Slate theory has been completely disproved. Newborns are given so many cues by their mother about the environment that they will be born into; learning begins in the womb. A baby learns to recognise their mother’s voice first; all other sounds need to go through muscle, tissue and amniotic fluid and are therefore muffled but their mother’s voice is far closer and the fetus is with her all the time. Newborns prefer their mothers voice over anyone else’s. Recent research has shown that babies cry in the native accent of their mother. French babies cry on a rising note and German babies end on a descending note. What a pregnant woman encounters in her daily life is shared with her baby from the air she breathes, chemicals she’s exposed to and even emotions. These maternal cues answer a lot of questions. Fetal learning and genetics give humans the ability to thrive in a huge variety of environments from deserts to high-altitude mountains.
Have you ever stopped to think about what happens during pregnancy? A woman’s vital organs are displaced, her lungs change shape, her blood volume increases, her cardiac output increases; her entire body is affected. Asking a human to grow another human is extremely complicated, tiring and life changing. As a nation I think we should all be given the opportunity to understand a bit more about pregnancy because maternal health is a priority for a healthier and happier country, period.