All the medical professionals - midwives, doctors - I've dealt with so far have been women. I've liked some more than others. Some were reassuring, some were rude, some were funny, some were know-it-alls, several had had children of their own. Where I live, one's antenatal care is shared between the hospital (where one is seen by midwives and if necessary a consultant) and your GP. At my GP's surgery, in common with many others, the doctor you actually see will not necessarily be your own registered GP, but whoever can fit you in, so until recently both my antenatal appointments at my doctor's had been with a female GP (and mother, incidently).
This week, I saw my own GP instead. We hadn't met before and I liked him very much. He's in his 40s, I suppose, and I couldn't tell whether he had any children of his own. He carried out a couple of the usual tests and asked the usual questions. Then he asked me to step on the scales - something I hadn't done since my initial booking appointment. The first time I did this, in about th eighth week of my pregnancy, I had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27 which made me overweight. I am 5'2" and a size 10-12, and I've always known I've weighed a lot. I must just have dense bones or something. The point is, I was, and always have been, in good shape - and I am not the first person to have noticed that shorter people are disadvantaged by BMI calculations. The midwife was surprised at the BMI but looked me up and down and decided there was clearly no problem with my weight. I have never owned a set of scales and have always eaten sensibly but still according to what I want rather than how I look. Besides, I read in my pregnancy book that weight gain is no longer seen as an accurate measure of how a pregnancy is progressing so is not usually monitored these days.
So, this week, for my GP, I got on the scales for the first time since October. I weighed about 11st, which means I've put on about a stone and a quarter. Given that my baby is due in 8 weeks, I think this is a reasonable amount. Added to which, my face has got no fatter than it was and is always the first place to show whenever my weight fluctuates, so I'm confident that the weight gain is temporary and that I'll have little difficulty losing it once the baby's born. Being the liberated woman that I am, I stepped off the scales seeing the weight gain as of little consequence. Mr GP, however, had other ideas. "That's quite a good weight gain," he said. I was pleased. I thought this meant that the weight gain was just right for the health of my baby and me. He and I clearly have different ideas of what the word 'good' means, as he then went on to make it clear that he thought I'd put too much on. "You know, it's OK to diet during late pregnancy," he continued, "I think it's due to hormones. The women in my family tell me they want to eat more during pregnancy and their periods, so they eat too much. Don't cut out just one food group, just cut down generally so you're still getting some of everything."
I was stunned! I nodded and made noises of assent, but all the time I was wondering what the hell he thought he was saying. I simply cannot contemplate eating any less right now. I need vast amounts of energy just to get through the day (I teach small children for a living) and what's more, I eat when I'm hungry - not just for the hell of it but when I'm hungry! Does he expect me to continue being hungry? Why?? Would he go through the day being hungry? Nope, he would eat! I cannot help but wonder if I would have received the same advice from a female professional - particularly one who had been through pregnancy herself. Is this sexist of me? Quite possibly. But I also think there was implicit sexism in his use of the word 'diet', especially as a verb. I have never dieted in my life and I got the feeling that he thought he was asking me to do something which would be no problem for me.
Needless to say, I am ignoring that particular nugget of advice. As usual, I am eating what I want and keeping it pretty sensible. And to me, eating sensibly means never, ever going hungry if you can avoid it. Which would probably be good advice for everyone.