30 March 2007

what, no vagina?

If anyone loves Eve Ensler (feminista genius and author of 'The Vagina Monologues' and 'The Good Body') as much as I do, you will be interested in this interesting tidbit...another 'only in America' moment.

'A theatre in Florida had to change the title of a charity production of The Vagina Monologues on its marquee, after a woman complained that it was offensive.
The new name? They decided on 'The Hoohaa Monologues'.

Another instance of women's reproductive bodies forced to be hidden from view, laughed off and literally re-named.

Everyone should love the vagina. We shall not be ashamed!!

29 March 2007

antenatal depression

I was pleasantly surprised to read in the papers this morning that the Australian Government has finally decided to recognise post-natal depression as a serious reality of motherhood and as such, are going to screen new mothers starting in 2008. The statistics tell the story: 1 in 7 mothers will develop depression, often which goes undiagnosed. Now, this is all well and good (any recognition of motherhood is a step in the right direction). But (and there is always a but..) I am interested to know why no one ever talks about antenatal depression. Mothers are not only getting depressed after birth, they also get depressed during pregnancy.

Antenatal depression affects between 7 and 20% of pregnant women and quite often women who are depressed during pregnancy (at least 40%) are more prone to being depressed after the birth as well.

One young mum in my study was diagnosed with antenatal depression about 24 weeks into her pregnancy. Not particularly thrilled to have her body changing, feeling 'fat' and lonely, this woman went to find help and to her surprise could not find any. All of the support groups in Melbourne cater to postnatal depression so she was forced to hire a private psychiatrist for treatment.

As a result of all the associated hormone changes, feelings of fatigue and body image anxiety during pregnancy, antenatal depression is often very difficult to diagnose. However, women must be aware of the signs of depression not just after they give birth but most importantly during pregnancy.

23 March 2007

katie price: mother of the year!

I just read that Katie Price (aka Jordan) has won 'Celebrity Mum of the Year'..isn't that interesting? Considering this blog is all about the celebrity backlash, you'll love this piece from Rachel Johnson from the Times Online 'Less yum, more mum':

"I take my hat off to any woman with the iron will to restore herself to bikini-ready shape weeks after giving birth in order to do a photo shoot, and I have only admiration for confident beauties who light up the red carpet. But I do think that once you’ve given birth, you pass the baton. Becoming a mother is nature’s way of calling attention to the next generation, not the current one.

So I don’t like it, I admit, when glitzy, gorgeous women wheel out their children as a means of jacking up the amount of slavishly admiring attention that they themselves might receive. Which normal woman does?

21 March 2007

hollywood hooters

Speaking of feeding, here is a great commentary from The Mother's Movement Online about Angelina Jolie, her babies, and the lack of celebrity mothers who breastfeed (at least in public!):

Hollywood hooters http://www.mothersmovement.org/opinion/07/janssen_0702.html

Isnt it strange? When you think about how often we see baby bump porn in the tabloids and obsessive coverage of Hollywood mothers, we never actually see any celebrities breastfeeding. They claim they do....But we never see any pictures of them actually doing it. Am I wrong? Why is that? Considering we are pretty much completely de-sensitised to images of breasts because they are so omnipresent in our visual culture, it is bizarre to think that sighting the celebrity breast is taboo.

19 March 2007


Considering most of my days have been spent doing post-baby interviews, meeting all of the new bubs from The Baby Bump Project, and chatting about labour and delivery, I have been thinking alot more about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is one of the most potent topics of conversation in the post-birth interviews for good reason; for alot of the first-time mums I've interviewed, it's hard. Damn hard. Hard like they never expected and no one ever told them. Sure, there are a few women who have babies that latch on without any fuss and the feeding is simply a pleasure. For most, however, feeding takes work and practice and alot of consultation to get it right. One woman in the public system here in Melbourne was having so much trouble feeding, she was referred to a lactation consultant. Sure, that's all well and good but she couldn't get an appointment for 10 days. 10 days! In that ten day period, she developed mastitis and a severely cranky baby because her nipple was too banged up to feed and no one told her to continue through the pain. So, for any women out there who need some help, I give you this:

I came upon this resource which has a clever name and great information and products:
The Pump Station http://www.pumpstation.com/pumpstation/

You're probably saying, 'Meredith, The Pump Station is in America and I'm in [insert your country here]. How is this going to help me'?

Have a look at the resources in the upper left hand corner of the website, Helpful Tips. There are videos, articles and maternity bra guides all at your fingertips, so it doesn't matter where you live.

Also, I read another blog about motherhood called The Washing Line http://thewashingline.blogspot.com/ and there is a great post about the 'Fourth Trimester' and one mum's reflection on being connected to her son through breastfeeding.

15 March 2007

join in the baby bump fun!

Hi everyone,

I've been noticing on the site metre (my latest obsession) that alot of you folks out there reading this blog are from all over the world. What fun! I would love to post some of your experiences of being pregnant, weight gain, baby bumps, celebrity pregnancy, anything related to maternity or motherhood.

I would absolutely love to see your photos as well. If you have any images of your pregnant bellies, postbaby bellies, stretch marks or anything pregnancy related and you would like to contribute to our supportive community, send them through.

I'm all ears, all the time: babybumpproject[at]yahoo.com.au

Oh and one more thing, feel free to link to me if you have a blog or a website yourself:

Thanks for reading!

14 March 2007

pregnant silhouette

I love this photo, again from Torrie on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/torrie/414888862/
She says:
I decided to challenge myself today- try to embrace my pregnant body, while I was feeling quite unattractive. It's amazing how a photograph can sometimes make you feel so much better about yourself and show you beauty didn't know you had.

12 March 2007

'fat' answers

Considering my last few posts about 'fat' and pregnancy, I just came across this really thoughtful post on a UK website, Chocolate Brownie, from a self-described overweight woman reflecting on her pregnancy. She deconstructs alot of the 'myths' I was posting about particularly surrounding the idea that 'fat' women cannot produce and deliver healthy babies...

Here is the link: http://www.chocolatebrownie.co.uk/site/content/view/24/51/

According to the BBC, maternal obesity is a public health 'time bomb':

"Obese mums-to-be are more likely miscarry, experience pre-eclampsia and dangerous blood clots or need a Caesarean section to deliver the baby, which is likely to be larger itself."

For full article see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6301313.stm

Definitely a fantastic read......I love myth busting :)

10 March 2007

Naomi and her bump

Okay, now that everything is out in the open, Naomi Watts is finally pregnant after many tenuous tabloid moments of is she or isn't she? According to Access Hollywood (my favourite source for juicy American gossip) Naomi's partner, Liev Schreiber said that he thinks Naomi's baby bump is mad hot and 'probably the best bump' he's ever seen (http://www.accesshollywood.com/news/ah4352.shtml
This is what intrigues me. In the picture to the left, alot of sites have captioned the photo 'Naomi Watts and her bump at the Oscars'. To me, the AND HER BUMP implies that other people think of the baby as separate from her body, like the 'bump' is a different person from her. That's pretty interesting considering at only 12 weeks or so pregnant, Watt's baby would be unable to survive outside of her body. Alot of the women I've interviewed seem not to think of the baby as a person until at least they feel some movement and very few women feel like the baby is actually a separate person until the third trimester. The fact that 'bumps' are becoming babies earlier and earlier is exactly why fetuses often have more rights than a 2 yr old child in a court of law. Not to ruin my light hearted moment, but the laws supporting fetal rights (particularly in America) potentially create an antagonistic relationship between mother and fetus and also may encourage doctors to compel women to undergo certain medical procedures (for example, caesarean sections) in favour of the protection of fetal life. Just something to think about....

09 March 2007

im not fat, im pregnant

And another thing...why is it that women have to wear t-shirts reassuring everyone else that they are pregnant and not 'fat'? Or is it really just reassurance for themselves because strangers feel the need to ask you how much weight you've gained, whether you having twins and if you really need that muffin with your latte (oh that's right, pregnant gals aren't supposed to drink coffee either, thanks for reminding me)
Speaking of interesting coffee encounters, one pregnant woman told me she was taking a taxi to work and had the driver stop for a minute so she could grab a coffee on the way. The driver then proceeded to berate her for 1) wanting a coffee 2) even considering drinking it. She looked at him, smiled and kept on drinking.
I'm really sick of the world we live in.

08 March 2007

fear of fat

Has anyone else noticed the recurring 'fat people are bad' theme in the media? In light of the popularity of The Biggest Loser (which I admit I watch with such intensity and excitement I surprise myself) I guess it's no surprise that fear of fat has possessed Australians with such force that people need diet-centred reality television shows to get them off the couch. However, my interest in fatness and maternity has been sparked by the woe-is-me fertility obsessed Munnalita (she's a bit of a drama queen, her bio on TBL website calls her an 'emotional character' http://www.thebiggestloser.com.au/default.aspx?page=contestant&ID=15 ) from the Red Team who says will not be accepted for IVF treatment unless she loses a significant amount of weight. Munnalita is so set on having children, one of the first episodes of TBL shows Munnalita in her nursery at home that is all set and ready to go for a baby with an entire cupboard filled with baby clothing. It's hard not to feel for the poor woman but what really irks me is that now the media has taken a sort of perverse delight in publishing articles about how obsese or overweight people cannot have children easily (for example, in the Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42614-2005Feb21.html) . Undeniably, as in Munnalita's case and I'm sure for many other women, weight can play a significant role in one's ability to get pregnant (on both ends--weighing too much or too little). However, no one seems to talk about the horrific discrimination overweight women face when they do become pregnant, particularly in hospitals and from midwives even here in Victoria.

On Big Fat Blog (www.bigfatblog.com), a number of self-described overweight women recount their experiences of discrimination and harassment for being pregnant and overweight. This experience is particularly poignant for a number of contributors on the blog:

A pregnant woman says she has been told she cannot have her baby in a Victorian hospital because she is too fat. "[A hospital staffer] weighed and measured me, then sat down with her calculator and worked it out and just told me sorry you're 41," [the woman] Lisa said. She said she was told by the staff member she would have to lose 8kg if she wanted to have her baby delivered at Werribee Mercy hospital. "I've only got nine or 10 weeks left in my pregnancy, basically that's drop a kilo a week."

Or this:

The mainstream approach to childbirth really bothers me. You realize just how researchers can ignore the data about obesity when they do the same thing with childbirth. It's not a disease, but OBs are trained to look for the pathology so they do. I was supposedly a high risk pregnancy with my last because of my age (36 at the time) and maybe my weight (about 258 before conceiving) even though I had no problems in my first pregnancy and never had a problem in my second..

There are plenty of overweight women who give birth to healthy bubs--heck, look at all the plus-size maternity wear (http://www.plusmommaternity.com/) and lingerie that is available now. If there is enough of a mainstream market for plus-size maternity wear, there must be more than a few overweight women getting pregnant and having babies...and no one should be told they have to lose weight in order to deliver in a hospital.

06 March 2007

Is rehab the new baby bump?

So who else out there is feeling terribly sorry for Britney Spears? As the media continues to portray her as a nutcase, parading around with no underwear, shaving her head, attacking paparazzi cars with a golf umbrella and all of the failed attempts at rehab, no one has been talking about what some insiders claim is the real cause of Britney's pain: post-natal depression. Whereas Brooke Shields became the poster girl for PND awareness coupled with her best-selling account of her darkest times, our dear Britney, once heralded as America's sweetheart, is the next celebrity in line to go to rehab (with no mention of her PND). Has rehab become the new baby bump?

Also, I was just perusing The Guardian this morning and found another article about Gwen Stefani (see previous post) and how much she hated being pregnant. This is incredibly interesting to me because Stefani is consistently quoted as loving motherhood and not being able to wait to have a second baby. She says:

"I was surprised how much I didn't enjoy pregnancy," she admits. "Having something growing in your stomach feels so unnatural. Your body's changing and you can't control it. You just feel gross. I was having to get up on stage wearing bathing suits, looking fat. Nobody knew I was pregnant except me. They were constantly having to add extra panels into my costumes. To be honest, I was feeling pretty bad about myself."
(for full article see http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,2024019,00.html)

When did women start referring to themselves as 'fat' in pregnancy? My own research is trying work out what the fear of fatness in pregnancy means. Out of the 40 women participating in The Baby Bump Project, I have been amazed by the number of women that refer to themselves as 'fat' and not pregnant as if the weight gain is a failure more so than biological necessity. Pregnancy brings not only a changed body but also a changed lifestyle. My thought is that some of this fear around fatness has to do with anxiety around having children. Wearing maternity clothes and seeing the numbers rise on the scale means that you are not yourself anymore. The body you have always known is different. Many women are consumed with 'getting back into their jeans' because it's a sign of more than just getting the top button done up; it represents a return to the old 'you'. As Stefani says, 'Then after three months, I was like, enough's enough, I want my life back. I'd gained 40lb, so I went on a diet.' Regaining control of the postnatal body is equivalent to regaining a sense of identity.
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The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.