Health behavior refers to an individual’s personal beliefs as well as activities carried out concerning their health and wellbeing to attain, promote and maintain better health lifestyles. Such health activities involve; not smoking or drinking excess alcohol, doing regular exercises to enhance physical fitness and eating well among others. Risky health behaviors will, therefore, refer to activities that negatively influence an individual’s health lifestyles. I have chosen drinking of alcohol in pregnancy as risk behavior those impacts on the health of the Australian citizens.
Women who happen to take alcohol during their pregnancy incur negative health effects probably to their babies as well as to themselves. Excessive drinking of alcohol at pregnancy period causes miscarriages and premature birth. Alcohol is a toxic substance that will rapidly enter the baby via the placenta into the bloodstream(McCarthy et al,2013).Too much of alcohol can even increase the risks of a new baby to be stillborn.
Heavy drinking of alcohol may tremendously damage the baby’s nervous system. The baby will start developing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) having various problems like slow learning or social defects and birth defects. FASD will, therefore, refer to a term that describes the range of impacts that occurs to an individual exposed to alcohol in the uterus. Such impacts will involve mental, physical, behavioral and learning defects for a lifetime(McCarthy et al,2013). Babies born with fetal alcohol syndrome will tend to have facial defects, being small, learning difficulties, poor muscle development, and behavioral problems. It also causes delivery of babies with low birth weights which greatly affects the baby’s chances of survival and to have better health. From national strategy household survey, 1 in 16 lives born babies had less than weighed less than 2500 grams at birth .generally children born to alcoholic mothers tends to have damaged brains, birth defects, poor and slow growth, low intelligence quotient, language, and speech deficit as well as social and behavioral problems(McCarthy et al,2013).
From the various behavioral models, I chose the health belief model (HBM) as a behavioral change model of which I apply as not drinking alcohol during pregnancy. The health belief model will, therefore, refer to a theory that aims in predicting whether an individual can choose to involve in a health activity in order to lower or prevent chances of getting a disease or premature death (Chimied et al 2013). The model comprises of two types of beliefs that influence individuals to take necessary preventive actions; beliefs related to readiness to take actions as well as beliefs related to modifying agents that enable or inhibit an action. .the variables that are used in measuring the readiness to undertake any action is perceived susceptibility to the illness for example FASD disorders affecting babies as a result of alcohol consumption .another component of the model is the benefits, for instance, the perceived impotence of avoiding alcohol during pregnancy to the newly born babies. The barriers e.g the perceived costs and also constraints when women are taking the action of abstinence of alcohol during their pregnancy period. The theory advocates that the individual variables contribute in predicting their health behaviors. The model can be applied to potentially unhealthy behavior specifically drinking alcohol at pregnancy period. This can be achieved by examining the attitudes and beliefs that are related to taking of alcohol at pregnancy using variables; it can be predicted that fetal alcohol spectrum disorders could be avoided(susceptibility) hence discouraging the consumption of alcohol at pregnancy periods.
There are two Australian strategies of changing the risk behavior of taking alcohol during pregnancy. The health promotion champagne and the enactment of policies that covers the use of alcohol in Australia. The first strategy that is the development and implementation of policies that governs the use of alcohol .the government of Australia has laid down policies and guidelines to control the consumption of alcohol effectively. The national health and research council has developed guidelines policies that effectively targets to control women who consume alcohol during pregnancy period to reduce the health risk associated with. The strategy is specifically laid down to control the maternal alcohol consumption rates critically during the pregnancy and breastfeeding (Keith et al, 2014).
The policy recommends that any woman who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant should significantly refrain from alcoholic drinks through their pregnancy period. Women who have taken any alcohol should be reassured while being given the advice to abstain from any further alcoholic drinks. The policies targeting alcoholic use in pregnancy has been established because of the concerns that are around alcohol usage when breastfeeding and during pregnancy period. The policy came into action in the year 2009.The actions of the strategy involve setting up of strict measures that will compel the women that initially used alcohol to change their behavior and to adopt healthy behaviors through the implementation of such alcoholic laws and also the reinforcement of women who are abstaining(Keith et al,2014). The strategy is complying with the Ottawa chatter of health promotion by advocating to move into the arena of public health policy and to advocate for clear political commitment to health .according to my rationale, the strategy is of great significance and leads to the attainment of the healthy lifestyle.
The second strategy is the role of Australian media as a strategy in championing the campaign for educating and informing the community. The strategy aims at increasing the awareness of alcohol use and promotion of healthy attitude and enhancement of healthy uses of alcohol.The national alcohol campaign was officially launched in the year 2000 and mainly targets the pregnant women or young teenagers who usually encounters early pregnancies(Hildebrand et al,2013). The media strategically creates awareness to the public on the unhealthy effects of consumption of alcohol.It tries to advocate the public to change their attitudes towards consumption of alcohol at pregnancy period through media.
.the strategy utilizes social media such as the use of brochures, magazines, newspapers and internet sites .the national campaign strategy critically tries to change the attitudes, belief and behaviors of the target group. It also facilitates the target group to change into health behavior such as health drinking of alcohol. The strategy tries to change the attitudes of drinking alcohol during pregnancy period hence aiding in resolving the related health problems(Hildebrand et al ,2013). The strategy is complying with the Ottawa chatter for health promotion through mass education on a significance of health behaviors. My rationale towards the strategy is that media will play an effective role in mobilizing the Australian citizens to change into healthy behaviors especially to women at pregnancy period.
Hildebrand, J., Maycock, B., Howat, P., Burns, S., Allsop, S., Dhaliwal, S., & Lobo, R. (2013). Investigation of alcohol-related social norms among youth aged 14–17 years in Perth, Western Australia: protocol for a respondent-driven sampling study. BMJ open, 3(10), e003870.
Keith, M. R., & Moore, M. (2014). Public Health Association of Australia (NT Branch) submission to Northern Territory Select Committee on Action to Prevent Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
McCarthy, F. P., O’Keeffe, L. M., Khashan, A. S., North, R. A., Poston, L., McCowan, L. M., … & Kenny, L. C. (2013). Association between maternal alcohol consumption in early pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 122(4), 830-837.
Schmied, V., Johnson, M., Naidoo, N., Austin, M. P., Matthey, S., Kemp, L., … & Yeo, A. (2013). Maternal mental health in Australia and New Zealand: A review of longitudinal studies. Women and Birth, 26(3), 167-178.