29 February 2008

Silicon womb more 'natural' than your own

"LONDON: A team of UK researchers will soon be conducting trials of a "silicon womb" inserted into a woman's own womb which incubates embryos to provide a more natural environment"

Right. I am clearly confused as to how a SILICON womb can prove to be MORE NATURAL than a womb inside a woman's body that is NOT SILICON.

Essentially, because scientists think that women's reproductive systems are too complicated and unpredictable it is better to implant embryos in a silicon capsule for women undergoing IVF because the embryos will survive better. It takes the 'guesswork' out of IVF.

Damn us women and our crazy fallopian tubes.

Pregnancies are supposed to be biologically precious. Evolution has made us work that way for a reason.


Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Silicon_womb_for_better_embryos/articleshow/2824683.cms

28 February 2008

Nicole and Harlow working it for People

*Yawn* Another celebrity who gives birth and talks about it.

I bet I can summarise the article:

'Motherhood is amazing. Blah Blah Blah. I'm not worried about losing weight (yeah, right). Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah'

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20180683,00.html

27 February 2008

Team Jolie v. Team Aniston

It was only a matter of time. As soon as Angelina stepped out looking as though she had swallowed a basketball this week, the Jolie v. Aniston media battle was on again.

No longer are we interested in any of Jolie's career achievements or even her partnership with the hottest man on Earth. Angelina is a reproducer and her children are the jewels in her celebrity crown. Not only does Ange have the kids, she's also got a man.

And Jen? Apparently she's got nothing (babies or a man). Jen's womb (and her heart) are eternally barren. Today the headlines are blazing with claims that Jen decided to freeze her eggs 'in a bid to beat the biological clock'.

So bitter is the war between women, Jolie reportedly pulled out of her appearance at the Oscars so as not to meet face-to-face with the woman who so 'desperately' wants to have children (that's Aniston).
I find it so infuriating that being a mother (or not) is used so often as the sole criterion of successful femininity. Jennifer Aniston has accomplished so much in her career and has more money than God, to boot. Jolie is succesful as well and while kids are great, they don't 'make' a woman. Jolie is almost always portrayed as the 'better' woman who has 'got it all' whereas Jen is just a desperate, barren freakshow still pining over Brad.

22 February 2008

Bumps on display: Jamie Lynn and Nicole Kidman

I have this theory (supported by evidence) that the ways in which pregnant women feel about their 'bumps'/pregnant bodies is directly linked to whether the pregnancy was 'wanted'/'planned' or not.

Two very interesting examples of the above just fell in my lap(top).

1) Nicole Kidman: extremely outwardly excited to be pregnant and is happy to 'show off' her growing belly at every opportunity, an 'older' mother who has said numerous times that she has been trying to get pregnant for years

2) Jamie Lynn Spears: hidden from public view since her pregnancy announcement, wearing baggy clothes, avoiding having her photograph taken. According to new reports (and this is very sad), Jamie Lynn is having severe body image issues and has taken to wrapping Ace bandages around her stomach to hide her 'bump'. No longer is she just the 'cute teen', she's a pregnant teenager.
This is very interesting and evidences my theory very nicely. Both women are 5 months pregnant (although have to say Nicole does look extremely small for 5 months!). Nicole has described her pregnancy as very much wanted and in the works for many years. Jamie Lynn is 16, and whilst no one will ever know if the pregnancy was 'wanted', I think most of us would guess that, for all intents and purposes, this pregnancy was not 'planned' or at least part of her life plans at such a young age.

Whereas Nicole is proud to show off her changing body, Jamie Lynn understandably looks as though she is in denial of her situation. I noticed very similar situations in my own research. For younger women who had 'surprise' pregnancies, it often took them a very long time to come to terms with being pregnant. They often told me they didn't 'feel' pregnant until they were much bigger in size and also had a chance to bond with the baby more. For 'older' women who had been trying to fall pregnant for ages, they were ready to push out their bellies and tell the world they were pregnant from the moment they found out.

Bring on the epidural.

"More and more women are planning on getting epidurals, and I don't blame them," said Dr. Jerry Konialian, a fertility specialist at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, who has delivered thousands of babies since 1985.
"They were not common 20 years ago, but now they are demanding it. You don't even have to suggest it. It's wonderful, and it's safe. I tell my patients who do question it, `You wouldn't have a tooth pulled with no local, so why would you want this huge baby pulled out of you with no anesthetic?"'
A discomfiting point of view at a time when having a baby is riskier than ever, despite women living in a time when technology and medical advances are at their peak. No one is disputing that birth hurts. Women should be able to choose an epidural if they want one. However, I find it really appalling that obstetricians might be encouraging women to have epidurals under the assumption that a woman's body is incapable of birthing a baby without intervention. Moreover, the assertion that women are just giving up on natural birth in favour of anesthesia is ridiculous. Birth is very complicated in a hospital and women's 'choices' are often circumscribed by the context; if a doctor says she needs to have an intervention, many women are reluctant to dispute an expert opinion. Moreover, a number of women are so scared to give birth (tokophobia) they decide during the pregnancy that they do not want to feel any pain.
As I discussed a few posts ago, epidurals can slow labour right down and are just a link in the chain of interventions that often lead women down the path to an unwanted caesar. Having an epidural is no joke. It is essentially a spinal block and there are a number of risks:
*forceps or vacuum extractor are required more often (20-75%)
*may slow labor, requiring Pitocin (synthetic oxytocin)
*increases the chances of a cesarean delivery by two or three times
I don't think any woman takes this decision very lightly.

20 February 2008

DJ Sara Cox is apparently 'massive'

Daily Mail Headline: 'Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox reveals her massive baby bump'

I hardly think she looks massive. At 8 months pregnant, frankly, it would be more alarming if she didn't have a decent sized bump!

18 February 2008

Christina A opens up about being opened up

In the latest edition of Hello! Christina Aguilera talks about having an elective caesar because she was too scared to give birth vaginally. She says:

"I'd heard horror stories about tearing. I really wanted a calm and peaceful environment. I didn't want any surprises."

Uh huh. Calm and peaceful is pretty easy when you can't feel the lower half of your body and there is a big screen shielding you from the view of your own body splayed open. Sure, squeezing a big baby from a tiny opening and tearing is no walk in the park, but one wonders why the thought of having one's abdominal muscles cut in half isn't viewed as a far more horrifying prospect?

16 February 2008

First Reponse Gold Pregnancy Test

Because apparently reading different coloured lines is too hard for women these days:

"FIRST RESPONSE GOLD Early Result Digital Pregnancy Test works when a woman's urine comes in contact with a specially treated absorbent tip on the pregnancy test stick. After 30 seconds, the display screen indicates that the test is working by showing a blinking clock. After three minutes, a clear "Yes" or "No" response appears on the display screen, indicating whether the pregnancy hormone hCG has been detected."

I don't know what annoys me more, the suggestion that standard pregnancy tests are too complicated for the average woman to use or this:

According to Janis Biermann, Senior Vice President of Education and Health Promotion for March of Dimes, the sooner a woman knows she's pregnant the sooner she can begin a prenatal health regimen. "The earliest days of pregnancy are critical to a baby's development, and this is the ideal time for women to talk to their doctors, if they haven't already, about important prenatal health steps such as taking vitamins, exercising, and quitting smoking," she says.

Uh huh........*sigh*

Writer's at the Convent: Kaz Cooke

For anyone in Melbourne with a little free time tomorrow evening, come down to Abbotsford for Writer's at the Convent, a writing festival sponsored by Reader's Feast. I will be hosting Kaz Cooke, best known for her book, Up the Duff, in a session (6pm in The Library) where she talks about her new book, Girl Stuff, a practical guide that tells girls the 'truth' about becoming a teenager and how to navigate the changes and challenges.

For more info and schedules: http://www.writersattheconvent.com/

Rachel Weisz thinks motherhood is sexy

Actress Rachel Weisz thinks that motherhood is hot. Since giving birth in May 2006, Rachel says:
“I feel sexier after having a baby. I think you feel a lot more confident and much more appreciative of your body and what it’s capable of doing. I’ve got a lot more respect for it.”

And she claims that she isn't one of those celebrities that shifts the baby weight in a few weeks:

“When I stopped breastfeeding I gained some. It took me more than a year to get back to where I was.”

15 February 2008

Christina plus baby = $1.5 million photo op

This is literally the 'money' shot. Christina Aguilera and new baby Max posing for Hello! magazine.

Hmm. Seeing as how she is trying to cultivate a more 'natural', 'motherly' look, one wonder if she has her makeup artist(s) on permanent retainer.

And where are the nannies in the shot? Of course being a mother is great when you can hire people to look after your baby for you:

"I'm enjoying him every second. I can't stop staring at him, studying him. You can't believe you created this. Me and my husband couldn't be happier."

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=514348&in_page_id=1773

Marcia Cross bonds with new husband over petri dish

Finally, one celebrity is brave enough to admit that becoming a mother after 40 is a hard slog.

Marcia Cross, from Desperate Housewives, admits that dealing with infertility was one of her first tasks as a newlywed. After unsuccessful tries with sperm donation and adoption before her marriage, Cross says she and her new husband skipped their honeymoon to try IVF:

We decided to skip our honeymoon and try in vitro after the wedding. I had already been through infertility treatments. It's very, very difficult to get pregnant in your 40s. It's costly and tough on your body and your relationship."

When she finally got pregnant with twins, serious complications arose in the form of preeclampsia which required an emergency caesar at 35 weeks as soon as she was diagnosed:

"I started having contractions at 28 weeks and had to go on bed rest for two months. I was constantly worried that the babies would be born premature," she said. "Then, in January, my eyesight started going, and I gained 12 lbs. in one week."

I find this to be so refreshing considering 1) it's pretty bizarre that so many celebrities are popping out twins...hello IVF! and 2) more famous women are having babies over 40. It's nice to have an explanation because it's not easy to have a baby past 40 and at least when celebrities admit that they've poured endless amounts of money into fertility treatments, there is less pressure on the average women to feel like a failure because she's 45 and still not pregnant. After all, celebrities are in many ways, the models for social life. The truth is that science is playing a significant role in the production of all of these babies of 'older' mothers and to pretend that it's risk-free and easy is not good for anyone. Did you hear that J.Lo?

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20177921,00.html

13 February 2008

Isla says thanks to spanx

Isla Fischer had a baby, in case you didn't know. In fact, that seems to be the only thing that journos want to talk about with her these days. Why is it that when a woman has a baby, all of her lifetime achievements, her every career success, is eclipsed by motherhood?

Isla Fischer is a primary example of this phenomenon because as her new movie 'Definitely, Maybe' is due for release this week, every article about this woman begins and ends with her recent birth. For example, USA Today captures the movie star in today's headline thus:

'Maybe' star Isla Fisher is a new mom, but definitely don't ask!

The author frames the movie release around the fact that Isla doesn't want to talk about being a new mother, which is ironic, given that not talking about being a new mother, actually frames the entire article about being a new mother. Isla argues she does not want to open her baby up to publicity; she wants to keep her private life private, and rightly so.

However, the reporter did manage to squeeze out a juicy tidbit about her post-baby body. In positioning herself as the saintly celebrity that does absolutely nothing to regain her figure, Isla does mention that her post-pregnancy body is all thanks to Spanx, a sort of postmodern 'girdle' that is a celeb favourite. To justify her lack of an exercise regiment, she says:

"I really felt like there's so much pressure on young women in show business. There's so much body fascism. I don't buy into any of it. But I do have good genes."

Hmm. Ironic, because by wearing Spanx she acknowledges that in order to be considered an attractive woman, she must have a flat stomach. Maybe she didn't sweat her pregnancy kilos off, but wearing 'slimming' garments is actually no different because it signifies the adherence to normalised images of slenderness. Isla, in fact, you are literally buying into and participating in 'body fascism'.

I mean what could possibly be more 'body fascist' than shoving your post-preggo body into uber-tight lycra with 'tummy control' panels and 'slimming' liners? Yikes!

Sources: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2008-02-12-isla-fisher_N.htm

'Girlie Gowns' have landed

Argh. Just when I bagged J.Lo for having custom-made hospital gowns, some clever woman is now capitalising on the trend by producing 'Girlie' gowns for birth because, as she says, 'your delivery should be girly and not grungy'. These gowns have the exact same cut and embarassing open flaps at the back as the standard hospital gowns:

"The top half of the back is open (got to be accessible for that epidural, right?)"

Is an open flap for an epidural really a selling point? I'm not EVEN going to go there.

Nevertheless, they are charging $49(!) for a bloody piece of fabric that has polka dots and ribbon. Seriously!

If you were so concerned about wearing a hospital gown, wouldn't you choose to not wear one at all? Or to wear your own clothes? Why would you participate in such a ridiculous hospital ritual by having a friggin monogrammed gown?

Having a baby is one of the few times in a woman's life when she shouldn't have to worry about how she looks.

Birth is not an event in which women need another reason to buy a new outfit.

Source: www.girliegowns.com

12 February 2008

Posh's post-baby belly

Poor Posh (no, seriously!).

A brief body history:

Felt like she was too fat when she was a Spice Girl. Lost alot of weight. Alot. Became Queen Bee of Disordered Eating. Met David Beckham. Got pregnant x 2. Barely gained any weight. Lost whatever weight she gained and then some with the help of planned caesareans, possible lipsosuction and diet of prawns and ice cubes. Her anorectic chic has become her one and only career highlight.

Now it seems that The Daily Mail thinks that old Posh is getting 'saggy' after being snapped wearing a crop top:

"Her grey cropped T-shirt, complete with a sheer gauze layer, showed a distinct crease just above the waistband of her matching pencil skirt."

Did the author of this article forget that everyone complains that she's too thin? Now because her abdominal muscles are piercing through her skin looking like a 'crease' she is accused of being too 'saggy' because of her pregnancy. What's worse is that the author of the article blames Posh for knowingly exposing her stomach when she herself has said she 'hates' her stomach:
"The 33-year-old singer and mother of three has complained in the past that she looks "really awful naked". She has also spoken of the toll pregnancy has taken on her shape. "There are loads of things I don't like about my body," she said. "I've got so much saggy skin on my stomach."
Victoria Beckham has no fat on her body. I find it so incredibly offensive that not only are women's body parts honed in on and scrutinised without their consent, but that Beckham's supposed failure to have a perfect stomach is blamed on her pregnancy.
Give me a f^%#ing break.

Mylene Klass: B grade 'celebrity' to 'author'

Two things about pregnancy never cease to amaze me: 1) the amount of books published on the subject every year and 2) the increasing number of books about pregnancy 'written' by anyone who has a 'Dr' in front of their name or appears regularly in the tabloids. Apparently, Brit 'celebrity' Mylene Klass is adding author to her long-list of accomplishments which include showering in a white bikini and...um..showering in a white bikini?

Her new book, My Bump and Me: From Morning Sickness to Motherhood - An Honest Diary of My Pregnancy, is described as Mylene's personal account of 'what pregnancy is really like' including 'everything she did wrong' and practical medical advice.

I find this very troubling. The book has not been released so of course I have not been privy to its contents. However, whenever a celebrity is doling out medical advice and/or providing advice to other women I would like to think that there is a nice little ghost writer somewhere in the process doing the research and making sure that the women buying this book are getting proper information. It is not clear that this book and the advice that is shared is supported by any research, feminist, medical or otherwise.

When it comes to pregnancy, the last thing women need is a celebrity telling them 'how it is' no matter how 'honest' or practical an account it claims to be. Sure Jenny McCarthy provides a refreshing account of pregnancy in her book, Belly Laughs, but let's be honest. Are the women that buy this book using it as their primary resource for pregnancy information? Probably not. Are they buying it for a good laugh and a bit of fun? Of course.

With so many competing discourses surrounding how to 'do' pregnancy these days and given the primacy of celebrity in our culture generally, I think it's really inappropriate that celebrities knowingly contribute to constructions of a singular pregnant body; the idea that that there is only one way to be pregant, that there is an 'ideal' pregnant body shape or that you are supposed to feel a certain way when you are pregnant. The truth is that celebrity experiences of pregnancy and motherhood are atypical; they do not translate easily into the realities of the average woman because celebrity women are subject to a whole range of surveillance/cultural criticism and pressures of performance that the average woman is not. It's irresponsible for celebrity mothers to pose as the down-to-earth average woman because she's not. Mylene Klass, no matter what she says, had a categorically different experience of pregnancy from the average woman just by virtue of being in the public eye. Why should anyone care what she did in pregnancy? It only sets women up for failure when they unconsciously (or even consciously) compare their experiences to hers.

11 February 2008

A tour de force of birth

I finally saw On The Business of Being Born (OTBOBB). Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein have created a film that will make you experience what feels like a lifetime of emotions in the short span of 85 minutes. Navigating the streets of New York with a lone midwife on a mission to bring birth back into the home, OTBOBB draws on the experiences of pregnant women as they navigate the bureacracy of the American maternity system. In between providing a brief history of medicalised birth, the most profound and ultimately moving feature of this film is the up close and very personal view of birth---something which most women have never witnessed until their own. Babies are born throughout this film in some of the most humbling and beautiful footage I have seen on the subject to date.

Whilst the American and Australian maternity are relatively similar, the glaring lack of midwives in the American system is where the cracks in the foundation begin to show. The overwhelming use of 'pit' or pitocin in New York hospitals where an astounding 90% of births are induced is the trigger for the cascade of interventions to which American women are subject in contemporary maternity wards.

Thus, it is easy to see how the production of oxytocin, the naturally occurring hormone in women's bodies that triggers birth and is also described as a 'love' hormone to help with bonding when the baby is born, is stifled in this environment. The use of 'pit' or syntocinin (in Australia) is a synthetic form of oxytocin. However, when women are induced with this synthetic form of oxytocin, contractions are much stronger. When contractions are stronger, there is more pain and it is no wonder that the obstetric residents in certain NY hospitals were shoving epidurals in womens' spines as soon as the pain started to increase. However, epidurals slow labour right down. Ironic, eh? Women are induced to speed labour up in order to keep more beds open and the turn-over high in American hospitals. Yet, induction = pain = epidural. This slows labour down and puts baby at a higher risk for complications. The naturally occuring oxytocin? Replaced with adrenalin, the 'fight-or-flight' hormone which is produced when women are afraid or feel unsafe. No natural endorphins, no oxytocin. Just fear, shame and 'failure'. And you know what happens next? Caesarean. NY state hospitals have some of the highest caesar rates in America, hovering at 46%. Birth centres are closing faster every day due to the daily battles against insurance companies, rising costs and the inability to compete with hospitals. Homebirths? Only 1% of all births in America.

OTBOBB portrays modern birth as a battle being waged on women's bodies. There are no 'choices' when birth is left in the hands of 'experts' and midwives are nowhere to be found. Australian women are lucky in the respect that 'normal' birth is largely left up to midwives. However, the intervention rate is still extremely high in Australia and there is a growing lack of trained midwives available to all of the women that need them. Hospitals are increasingly reluctant to hire midwives because it is a competition for their obstetric business. Moreover, private midwifery care is rarely covered by insurance but this is most likely changing.

I had chills watching this movie. There were times when I felt so angry watching women in hospital being moved around like cattle, being told they had to be induced without any information provided to them as to the risks of the procedures being performed on their bodies. Informed consent is pretty much non-existent in the American system. America has one of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates in the world despite being one of the richest countries. Why? Birth has been taken out of the hands of women and their bodies are used to line the pockets of insurance companies, hospitals and obstetricians who don't care about the process but only about the product. As long as a baby comes out alive, it doesn't matter how it got there.




09 February 2008

Stephanie Tanner: very preggo

Jodie Sweetin, famous for her role as Stephanie Tanner on Full House and a once raging meth addiction, is very pregnant and due in April. Shamelessly posting her first sonogram images on celeb gossip site TMZ, this is one of the first photos of Jodie visibly pregnant. According to US magazine, Sweetin says "It’s a scary thing but I’m kind of scared of how much bigger I’m going to get!"
Oh and apparently she and her husband aren't going to name their baby girl after 'any fruits or electronic devices'.

08 February 2008

Home delivery is apparently just for pizza

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has just released a statement on their anti-homebirth position as a means of quietly confronting the 'popularity' of Ricki Lake's On The Business of Being Born. As can be expected from a group of highly paid doctors working in hospitals, ACOG states the most ideal model for birth is inevitably in a hospital with an obstetrician where risk can be managed. They say:

"Childbirth decisions should not be dictated or influenced by what's fashionable, trendy, or the latest cause célèbre. Despite the rosy picture painted by home birth advocates, a seemingly normal labor and delivery can quickly become life-threatening for both the mother and baby."

Not only does the ACOG discount all of the legitimate medical literature arguing for the benefits of homebirth, the idea that millions of American women are jumping on the homebirth bandwagon from seeing a movie is insane. If only this was the case! Despite the seeming popular appeal of homebirth, the fact is that most American women (about 99%) still give birth in hospitals and only about 1% of all births are 'alternative' with midwives, in birth centres or at home. Moreover, increasingly homebirth and midwifery are becoming harder to access in a number of states. A bill has passed through the Utah legislature that seeks to ban homebirths altogether and is just another way in which women's rights are being curtailed, providing fodder for the black market of midwives that is thriving in states across America.

According to ACOG, birth is just an emergency waiting to happen. It is a frightening proposition that this medical body says that they support a woman's right to 'choose' how she will give birth but implicit in that statement is the suggestion that if you decide to avoid intervention you are irresponsible. This raises very serious questions about what is considered to be 'high-risk'; increasingly having a big baby, a premature baby or a previous caesar are grounds for intervention whereas earlier they would not.

What's worse is that the high caesarean rate in America is attributed to pregnant women being too overweight and too old; ACOG places no responsibility for the 45% rate of caesars on obstetricians themselves. As Jennifer Block so convincingly argues in Pushed, the reality of hospital birth today is contingent on doctor's wanting short shifts, fast births and women to just shut up about it. ACOG speaks of midwives as if they are the devil's advocates and categorically state that as a result of their lack of comparable skills and inability to address 'high-risk' pregnancies, midwives are not to be trusted. What about all of the literature suggesting that birth with a midwife actually lowers caesarean rates?

In a nutshell, ACOG says in no uncertain terms: "Choosing to deliver a baby at home... is to place the processof giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby." There is no 'right' way to give birth and to suggest that women are irresponsible for moving away from the medical model is an appalling abuse of biomedical power.

Source: http://www.acog.org/from_home/publications/press_releases/nr02-06-08-2.cfm

07 February 2008

Pink marble fetuses all in a row

Sculptor Marc Quinn has done it again. Famous for representing the beauty of pregnancy in a disabled body without arms or legs (Alison Lapper), Quinn's latest exhibition looks at the internal view of the womb; 9 pink marble fetuses enrobed in a sort of maternal 'pipework' at London's White Cube gallery. A way of representing the mysterious baby 'bump', Quinn was inspired by the reactions to Alison Lapper's body shape as 'disfigured' and not 'pregnant'. Quinn says:
"There are nine sculptures altogether but there isn't one for each month because really the most interesting changes are at the beginning. The series does continue until birth. In the final sculpture, the baby is upside down and about to drop out -- just before the fall as it were.''
Quinn's comparison is far too simplistic. Whereas Alison Lapper is an actual woman, embodied as pregnant in his earlier work, the marble fetuses are without 'mothers'. Whereas Quinn is attempting to show the 'evolution' of human life right up until a 'baby' is ready to 'drop out' (interesting choice of words), there is no 'mother' embodied to do the 'dropping' as it were. Quinn's work is radical in that he tries to confront individuals with their own strange beginning as fetuses to counter the judgement of disabled bodies in the spirit of Lapper. Yet, Quinn never mentions that in order to 'make visible what is hidden' beneath a mother's skin, the mother cannot exist. This is precisely why 3D/4D ultrasonography is so powerful. If the mother's body remained present in the 'photo', the fetus would not seem like a separate person. The pink marble fetuses only reinvoke the traditional scientific and cultural paradigm of personhood as disembodied and masculine.

06 February 2008

Christina Aguilera's post-baby body

Just three weeks since the 'birth' (that was mean, an elective caesar is still a birth *sigh*) of her son, Max, Christina Aguilera has stepped out in all of her bleached blonde glory to launch her new DVD in West Hollywood. Considering a caesar usually requires about 6 weeks of recovery, she is either doing really well or truly suffering for her 'art'. It must be nice to have a driver, a nanny (or six) and an entourage of people to feed, clothe and make her up.

Too posh to push? More like too scared

A new Swedish study reveals that the increasing rate of elective caesareans in the developed world is not necessarily a result of Victoria Beckham wanna-bes who are beyond the whole birth thing. According to the research published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, many women requesting elective caesars are actually just too scared to give birth vaginally as a result of traumatic previous experiences and from being regaled with horror birth stories from friends and family.

Dr Ingela Wiklund, from the division of obstetrics and gynaecology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, led the study. She said "Women suffering from significant childbirth fear indicate that they are less self-confident, unhappy, afraid that the child will be injured and don't long for the child. This clearly emphasises the need for pre- and post-natal support."

In my own study, whilst I did not have any women who elected to have caesars simply out of fear, I was surprised to find that so many of my informants not only talked about the 'damage' being done to their body as a result of pregnancy but also their intense fears of pain and their babies dying during the actual birth.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtmlxml=/news/2008/02/06/nposh106.xml

05 February 2008

More products you don't need

It never ceases to amaze me the sheer number of products sold to women to 'enhance' their pregnancies whilst scaring them to death at the same time. Enter 'KickTrak', 'the first innovative digital solution to kick counting, designed by an obstetrician for moms-to-be'. This handheld device is being endorsed by the American Pregnancy Association as a 'must have' for mums who want to prevent stillbirth in the last trimester and apparently they can do so by keeping a 'reliable record' of the baby's kicks. Clearly, women cannot be trusted to feel kicks and look at the second hand of clock at the same time.

Pregnancy is hard enough. I don't think women need any more 'advice' or gadgets to remind them every day of the possibility that birth is uncertain and babies can (and do) die. I find it offensive that this device purportedly 'stores' information better than the mother herself and actually prompts a pregnant woman to notify her doctor (because of course, all pregnant women see obstetricians and give birth in hospitals) if a particular number/pattern of kicks is not felt on a certain day. This is just an easy way for a big company to profit from the neuroses of first-time mothers.

Javine does a Demi

Brit singer Javine Hylton is doing it just like Demi; naked and pregnant, that is. As opposed to the celebs like Christina and Mylene who blabbed on about how gorgeous and sexy they felt when they were on the brink of birth, Javine says:

'I'm usually 67kg (10st 7lb), but I've put on 19kg (3st). My bum's got really big – it has its own little personality'.

Source: http://www.metro.co.uk/fame/article.html?in_article_id=93078&in_page_id=7

04 February 2008

Super slim Milla J

Wow! I've been waiting to see photos of Milla Jovovich's post-baby body considering she famously gained 70lbs during her first pregnancy. Two months on, Milla is looking mighty slender. No word as to how she dropped the weight but she is in pre-production for a new film so that must have been quite an incentive.

The Business of Being Born screening this Sunday

Due to such high demand, Ricki Lake's documentary, The Business of Being Born, is back in Melbourne this Sunday at the Hawthorn Town Hall. Birth attendant and local legend, Rhea Dempsey will be leading a discussion following the 85 minute film. Tickets are $25 and a portion of proceeds go to The BellyBelly Pregnancy Centre opening this year.

To see the trailer and buy your ticket, go here:http://www.bellybelly.com.au/movie

South Dakota sonogram harassment

The South Dakota House and Senate recently passed a bill requiring doctors to offer pregnant women sonograms before they decide to have an abortion. If the woman refuses to 'see' her 'baby', she must sign a form indicating she has been offered the technology.

According to a number of conservative male legislators, the use of the ultrasound in this particular encounter is supposed to encourage women to keep their fetuses because 'seeing' a fetus as a 'baby' and 'not just a blob of tissue' will clearly overwhelm women who are ambivalent about motherhood with maternal feelings.

One female senator has called this 'harassment', and rightly so.

Isn't it interesting that pregnancy can be received so differently just on the basis of whether the pregnancy is wanted or not? For women who want to be pregnant, a little 'blob of tissue' on a screen is a 'baby'. For women who have found themselves uncomfortably pregnant, that same blob of tissue might be perceived as an alien or even a parasite. With regard to the fetus, as a number of feminist scholars have suggested in light of the abortion debate, the increasing use of sophisticated imaging technology is dangerous precisely because of what is happening in South Dakota. Personhood, as in many 'non-Western' cultures is not conferred upon birth when a child is welcomed into a community. Rather, personhood is conferred upon 'seeing' a fetus as early as 4 weeks in some cases simply because we have the technology to do so. As such, the mother's identity/personhood is eclipsed in favour of the fetus and her body is perceived as merely a receptacle for life, without regard for her own.

Source: http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2008/01/29/news/top/doc479f941307871396515177.txt

03 February 2008

Tori Spelling pregnancy part 2

According to People, Tori Spelling is very pregnant...again...clearly, I must have missed the announcement!

Considering all the trouble she went to lose the weight from the first baby, I am definitely surprised by the second pregnancy.

Source: http://www.people.com/people/gallery/0,,20175572_1,00.html

02 February 2008

Britney Spears is not a circus side show

After reading the 85,000th story about Britney Spears and her highly marketable mental breakdown, one wonders when the point comes that we can say enough is enough. The media has taken a perverse delight in exposing this young woman and her many failings which, so many have argued, she has brought on herself.

I have been fascinated by Britney for as long as I can remember, so much so, she has been the subject of my own academic research in the past few years. Yet, I am deeply saddened that this young woman has suddenly ceased to be a human in the eyes of the public. Sure, we all have had a bit of a laugh at her expense the countless times she appeared walking down the street without shoes, for attempting to wear some of the most heinous outfits imaginable with a straight face, and for marrying the man we now know as K-Fed. We've judged her for what some reckon is tantamount to 'child abuse'; driving with her son on her lap, nearly dropping a baby to save a drink, for perpetually leaving her young boys with nannies to go out and party. Now we laugh because she has been 'committed', her fortune in the hands of her sociopathic 'parents', and her children taken away from her.

We seem to forget about all of the moments when Britney was sparkling; for all of the moments that made her the most famous figure in the media world. Her first video clip as a naughty school girl, naked and pregnant on the cover of Bazaar, busting out in little more than an invisible 'skin' body suit for the MTV music awards with a python hanging around her neck, and for managing to be the girlfriend to Justin Timberlake when both of them were the toast of the town. These were the times when Britney was on top of the world and now it seems, everyone is waiting with bated breath to see our Britney fall flat on her face.

Whereas so many young people aspire to fame and fortune, the Britney saga only exposes the cold reality of celebrity-dom; that there is such a thing as being too famous. Britney, like other celebrities, need the paparazzi to keep them famous, but no one asks for constant surveillance. The 'Britney Economy', the 250 million dollar industry devoted to capturing every waking moment of her life, is the reason why Britney will never be left alone. Yet, when a paparazzi caravan the length of a football field is trailing her ambulance on the way to the psych ward, I think it's time to leave Britney to suffer out of the spotlight.

If, as a number of inside 'sources' claim, our Britney is on suicide watch, it will be no surprise if the relentless media presence in her life does indeed kill her. According to Beverly Hills psychotherapist, Rebecca Roy, "Not only do [celebrity] women have to deal with an impossibly high body image standard, but they are savagely attacked when they don't meet expectations on that [mental health] front." It is no wonder that stars like Britney or Amy Winehouse or even Kate Moss were aggressively attacked following allegations of drug abuse or psychiatric crisis that certain male celebrities seem to walk away from with an uncomfortable ease. When women 'fail', they fall hard and in front of a crowd of millions.

Whereas Owen Wilson was left to privately recover after his shock suicide attempt, Britney Spears has been nailed up on the proverbial cross and we are all here to watch her bleed.

Sources: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article3285507.ece

01 February 2008

J.Lo too good for paper hospital gown

It seems the more time I devote to following celebrity pregnancy, which at one time used to give me an unsettling thrill, now is just starting to make me angry. Celebrity preggos no longer appeal to me as 'real' women with the luxury of a bit of fame and fortune, but rather caricatures of 'isms': flagrant consumerism, narcissism and old school maternalism. Or maybe it's just because I have serious issues with J.Lo.

What has prompted my rant? Well, according to MSNBC J.Lo has not only had couture hospital gowns prepared for her hospital stay but has apparently elected to have a caesar for the birth of her alleged twins. I don't know what makes me more angry, the fact that J.Lo is too good for a paper hospital gown and requires a matching couture robe or that she's having an elective caesar. Why in the world would you choose to have a caesar unless it was medically necessary? Given that all of these celebrity women apparently want to have babies so badly, I find it really hard to believe that they are all so 'busy' that they simply do not have time to allow a baby (or babies, whatever the case may be) to come into the world in its own time. A caesarean does not make birth easier contrary to popular belief. It's amazing that such smart, successful women continue to believe their bodies are not capable of pushing out a baby.
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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.