Sunday, 19 July 2009

And you call yourselves experts...

I am not feeling love for the Royal College of Midwives (RCM)- more irritation and mild dislike. You would think the official "professional" body for UK midwifery could issue more balanced and thoughtful advice with regard to pregnant woman and swine flu than:

"all expectant mothers should avoid crowded places and unnecessary travel."

Thanks for that piece of enlightenment. My first reaction mirrors that of the following BBC reader, who wrote in this response:

"This is such stupid advice. I am pregnant and travel to work every day on a packed Tube. How am I supposed to avoid crowded places and unnecessary travel? It's impossible. I can't just stop going to work can I?" - Laura, Hertfordshire

The RCM's knee-jerk response comes following the attention surrounding a 39 year-old pregnant woman who died of swine flu shortly after giving birth. The resulting media bandwagon fueled public concern, which prompted the Department of Health to re-clarify its guidelines for expectant mothers and parents with children under five on how best to avoid swine flu.

Officially classed as the first flu pandemic in 40 years, swine flu is concerning for everyone. It's no surprise that pregnant women fall into the the "increased risk" category for swine flu and a host of other things because of our suppressed immune systems. But impractical advice like that from the RCM only feeds fear, and is just not helpful. As my father-in-law said, you could sit at home all day and catch something on your weekly trip to the local shop up the road. Viruses can lurk anywhere and we can't become immobilized by them.

Close to the time of the initial swine flu outbreak, I wrote on this blog that people should be more concerned with maintaining basic hygiene and common courtesy rather getting caught up in scaremongering and media hype. I'm all for being aware, with a focus on prevention, knowing symptoms and how to seek care when needed rather than falling victim to scare stories and misguided advice. The Department of Health seems to agree and has developed a "catchy" little slogan in this respect: Catch it, Bin It, Kill It. Check out this link to read their reissued swine flu guidelines for expectant moms and parents of young children. Try to ignore the fact that they've peppered their advice with absurd little sayings like "flu friend," ie the poor soul/kind friend that picks up your antiviral meds for you and delivers it into your bastion of pestilence. Geez.
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