Latest despatch from the department of petty bulls***. As well as partners still being routinely banned from pregnancy appointments in England (in defiance of new guidance
effective as of 14th December 2020), it now transpires that women are being denied the only workaround available to them. A new survey
by the excellent Pregnant then Screwed has found that 52% of women are being prevented from filming or taking pictures doing their appointment, being told that it is “illegal”.
First of all, it is not illegal, and NHS trusts need to get a handle on staff making specious claims. But more broadly, this petty resistance to anything that might help a woman cope better with a stressful and often traumatic experience is yet another reminder of the central issue for women when it comes to pregnancy: our humanity is forgotten. We are seen as just a vessel for the baby, not ourselves the patient too. So who cares if we have to go through it on our own?
All right, CCP, I hear you say, this is all very stirring rhetoric [why thank you, imaginary reader!!!], but what has this got to do with the gender data gap? Very simply, because this failure to remember that the person carrying the baby is still a person even when they are growing another person inside them, seems to lie at the heart of so many of the data gaps that do surround pregnancy.
Pregnant women get used very quickly to being told that there is no data that can tell them whether or not a medication they need is safe to take during pregnancy, so probably just don’t take it, after all there’s no harm in being cautious is there?
No harm, sure, except to the mother herself. I myself suffered immense harm during my short-lived pregnancy after being told to come off the acid reflux medication I have been on for more than a decade, because the safety data just wasn’t there, particularly for the first trimester. I was in constant pain and mainlining gaviscon day and night – and I am still dealing with the after effects. And of course I am dreading getting pregnant again and being faced once again with the choice of being able to eat or being cautious.
The worst of it is that the lack of data doesn’t even protect these babies, because what actually happens is that women just end up having to take the medication anyway. The only difference is that instead of it being in the context of a well-designed and controlled clinical trial, it’s done blind, and at her (and her baby’s) own risk – and the data is not systematically collected. This works out well for pharma companies and their insurers, but pretty much no one else.