Take folic acid, don’t drink, actually don’t leave the house just IN CASE you get pregnant.

Since June 2016 Safe Food has been running a campaign on the importance of taking folic acid. Of course, any campaign that promotes good health is great. And I am not denying folic acid or rather folate is good if you are planning a baby. I do have a few issues with the campaign and how they promoted it that I need to get off my chest though. 

First, my main issue with the campaign is it’s not ok to presume every woman will keep an unplanned pregnancy or tell us that we have to live our lives a certain way ‘in case’ we become pregnant. As a woman that really offends me that we are just seen as a walking vessel, a ticking time bomb, that has to watch every move we make ‘just in case’ we become pregnant. I am more than my uterus. I do not need plan my life around a possible pregnancy just because I have a womb. If that really is the case then men and women shouldn’t drink alcohol or do anything that may affect eggs/sperm, you know, just in case of a pregnancy.

From their campaign”The bottom line! Remember if you are sexually active and there is a chance you could become pregnant then you NEED to take folic acid every day”

I don’t think they could be more patronizing.  That is not advice, that is a statement telling women what to do. I’m fairly certain women can look after their own body and make their own choices about their reproductive health, myself included. #TRUSTWOMEN. I can do my own research. I don’t need yet more condescending controlling rules by this country masked as concern.

The campaign presumes that if a woman has an unplanned pregnancy she will want to continue with it. I find it such a kick in the teeth to every woman in this country. This ad further highlights that if you face an unplanned pregnant in this country you just have to suck it up and be forced into continuing pregnancy, you have no choice with our laws.
It’s like the government is justifying the no abortion law in this country with this campaign. ‘Oh, well we did warn you to take your folic acid for an unplanned pregnancy’  ‘Oh you weren’t?  Well, aren’t you a terrible selfish silly little woman/mother.’ Blame and shame, we seem to love doing that to women in this country.

Where in this campaign is the concern and dialogue for women’s health with an unplanned pregnancy? They admit over half of pregnancies are unplanned so I think a more useful campaign would be to help women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy rather than saying ‘whoops hope you were taking your folic acid you silly woman’ They blank women completely and make it all about the fetus. Yep, hits home we are just vessels.

Another obvious question I must ask where is the campaign from Safefood for men to take their vitamins to have viable sperm for these unplanned pregnancies?
Of course is no campaign for men, because men, luckily, are seen as more than their sperm. No patronizing babies in adverts telling them what to do to have healthy sperm you know, just in case they accidently impregnate someone.  

I must point out the irony too that men, looking at you ‘Fathers 4 Justice’, seem to think they can have a say over abortion rights and women’s maternity care i.e the 8th amendment when clearly society and campaigns funded by the government place ALL the responsibility and guilt of an unplanned pregnancy on the woman’s shoulders. It’s bad enough being told what we can and can’t do while pregnant thanks to the 8th amendment but to now be told in a patronizing manner what to do before a pregnancy that is not even on the radar, is taking the p*ss to be frank.

Second I think they should be promoting folate rather than folic acid but that’s just from my own research, I’m not a medical professional. Studies actually show folic acid is better absorbed and processed in the body in it’s natural form which is called folate. This is found is leafy greens, avocados, lentils and citrus fruits to name a few but folate can also be gotten in tablet form. Also, most foods now such as cereals, milk and bread are fortified with folic acid. As with most things, natural is better than synthetic as it’s easier for the body to break down. There is also risks to the fetus of having too much folic acid. So personally, I don’t see the urgency in telling women to take folic acid in this manner. See this article by WellnessMama for more info on folic acid vs folate.

Also, I’m also quite surprised seeing many of my fellow female bloggers, whom I respected, being paid to tell me to take folic acid in case I have an unplanned pregnancy. It’s incredibly condescending and again there is sadly absolutely no dialogue around options for an unplanned pregnancy.

If I actively plan to become pregnant I may or may not take folic acid.
If I have an unplanned pregnancy I will live with that and make my own choice both before and after on how to live my life. I know the risks and benefits of folic acid, I’m a grown woman and can decide what’s best for me, it’s my body and reproductive health.  
If I want advice I will ask but I certainly won’t be told what to do and what tablets to take in case of an unplanned pregnancy. If that’s the case I probably should never touch alcohol just in case I become pregnant. Can I live? 

Seriously, I just want to stop being seen as just a baby maker, please. I don’t take kindly to anyone, man or woman, being told what to do with their body or reproductive organs for an imaginary pregnancy. This campaign isn’t advice. It’s just a patronizing campaign disguised as concern telling women what to do because we have uteruses and a cop out for the government with their restrictive inhumane abortion laws. Please, Irish government, stop telling, actually guilt tripping us women with your cutesy baby adverts on how to live our lives and live them around imaginary pregnancies. Again, can I live? Can I live just for me and not an imaginary baby….just like men get to?

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