I’m the first to admit that the truth has not been the only thing that has ever slipped from my lips. I was a fairly good liar as a kid, no matter the reason or topic. But the one thing I’ve always felt strongly about is being honest with doctors. And not necessarily because I put them on a pedestal (although for the things they see, do and touch every day, they are clearly better people than I am). But what’s the point of seeing a doctor at all if they aren’t given a clear picture of the factors affecting your health?
In my adult life, I feel fortunate to have doctors that don’t blink an eye or judge me (to my face, anyway) when I admit things that I might be embarrassed about or that might indicate I am less than a perfect person. But if it relates to my health, I take a deep breath and own up to it.
I would hope that all doctors are similarly cool about not passing judgment and simply trying instead to correct what’s wrong. And yet I’m scratching my head about a new National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that says nearly a quarter of pregnant women lie about being active smokers, which I assume means they’re not being honest with their doctors, too. Is it because they don’t trust their doctors not to scold them, or is it because they’re too ashamed to admit the atrocities they’re inflicting on their fetuses?
I’m all for everyone doing what they want to do, just as long as it doesn’t affect anyone else. You want to not wear a seat belt in the car or a helmet on the bike? As long as you’re insured and your medical costs don’t end up coming out of my taxes, fine. You want to drink yourself into a stupor and act like a fool — fabulous — just don’t get behind the wheel of a car. Smoke cigarettes? I think it’s a disgusting habit, but as long as you don’t do it near anyone I love or me, then go for it.
But smoking while pregnant? If you’re not advocating on behalf of your defenseless child, then who, exactly, is? And why lie about it? What if a friend or doctor knows of some way to help you to quit, cut down or still protect your child? And do you really think your doctor doesn’t know what’s going on? All the breath mints and perfume in the world won’t change the fact that high levels of cotinine (a biological indicator of tobacco exposure) in your blood will indicate that you light up. While the presence of cotinine could also mean you’re exposed to second hand smoke, pregnant women metabolize it faster than nonpregnant women, so it could actually mean you’re smoking even more than thought, according to The New York Times.
Quitting smoke is tough, but it’s possible. And if you’re a smoker and pregnant, what are you waiting for?
Do you think so many pregnant women lie about smoking because they’re embarrassed? Should doctors get better about hiding their judgments?
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