Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

This is not a nice way to treat expectant mums

You're what?! You're pregnant! How lovely. Congratulations. Now if you would just care to blow into this wee tester so we can check to see how many fags you've had in the last 24 hours ...

That's this week's health message from those nice people at NICE (the government health watchdog body) who, when they aren't refusing much-needed drugs to the ill on the grounds that they are too expensive to fund, are dreaming up new ways to police the nation's wombs.

NICE is proposing that pregnant women are breath-tested at their first ante-natal visit to check if they've been on the ciggies.

What will this actually achieve? How much will it cost?

Nobody is suggesting that smoking in pregnancy is to be recommended. But neither, you imagine, is the stress of trying to give up an addiction.

Especially if you're being made to feel like an outcast if you slip up and have a quick puff.

Midwives have already expressed concern that testing is not going to do a lot to foster the bond of trust between themselves and mothers-to be.

Raising awareness of the dangers of smoking in pregnancy is one thing. Treating expectant women like they're Lance Armstrong, another entirely.

Young mothers-to-be these days are already assailed by just about every guilt trip imaginable.

Don't touch this. You daren't eat/drink/inhale/even consider looking at that.

They've enough worry to be getting on with.

Smoking isn't healthy. But neither is obsessing.

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