30 September 2008

Paid maternity leave? looks like not a chance

So looks like the whole maternity payment scheme in Oz is sinking. Small business is apparently upset because they will have to contribute to the superannuation accounts of women on maternity leave. A number of others are whining about the plan possibly not being means tested.

I find this amazing and actually it strangely crossovers with some things I have been mulling over lately. Here are some facts:

In the last 40 years, the Australian fertility rate has declined from 3.55 babies per women in the ‘baby boom’ of 1961 to a historic low of 1.73 in 2001. The fertility rate first started to decline in 1976 and ever since that time, the population has been below replacement level (2.1 babies per woman). Since 2001, however, Australia’s fertility rate has been slowly increasing. Fertility rates reached their highest level in ten years – 1.81 babies per woman – in 2005. This was also a time when Australia recorded the highest number of births since 1993.

As there is still no national scheme for paid maternity leave and given that provisions for childcare in Melbourne are woefully inadequate, being pregnant and ‘at work’ is still seen as perhaps visually and culturally inconsistent. This may point to a ‘backlash’ against feminism(s) both by the Australian government and women themselves. In spite of hard-won changes to Australian women’s legal and political status over the last 30 years, anxieties about pregnancy and motherhood clearly continue to brew. If the second wave of feminism encouraged middle-class Australian women to expand their understandings of themselves beyond marriage and motherhood, the falling birthrate in Australia clearly sits uneasily with the more recent trend of postponing motherhood.

Many of the women in my study were quite anxious about clinging to their positions in the paid workforce or having to make a somewhat defeated ‘choice’ to stay at home for a certain period of time to be ‘full-time’ mothers. They seemed genuinely frustrated and, at times, angry that the versions of feminist discourse presented to them in women’s magazines and by celebrities, for instance, seemed to suggest that being a mother and having a career is a seamless negotiation: that women can ‘have it all’. Ways of combining motherhood with other feminist aspirations are rarely discussed in the current Australian political climate. Rather, it is the women who are blamed for wanting to both have a working life and look after their children. This 'backlash' against maternity leave also particularly highlights the fractured and partial adherence to everyday feminisms by many Australian women themselves.

29 September 2008

Paid maternity leave

Today, a landmark government report will recommend that Australian mothers receive up to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Currently, only 43% of Australian women are entitled to paid maternity leave. One in six mums is back to work before their babies turn one month old.

According to the proposed plan, women would be paid the equivalent of minimum wage at the cost of $500 million to the government. This is quite controversial and a number of critics are suggesting that the expenditure is too great especially in the face of a 'global financial crisis'. Others have suggested that the scheme has to be means tested. Some groups are worried that if the scheme is passed, women of 'childbearing age' (read: early 30s) will be discriminated against in the workplace.

Let's just remind ourselves of one fact: Australia is one of the only two developed nations in the world (the other being the US) that does not have a scheme for paid maternity leave. British mums get 39 weeks. Swedish mums get 18 months. Bulgarian mums get 2 years.

Sources: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24415549-12377,00.html

28 September 2008

Jessica Alba bikini body

Jessica Alba: 4 months post-birth. I think 'Wow' is not nearly sufficient.

Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/news/jessica-alba-shows-off-post-baby-body
Photo credit: Clasos.com/Splash News

24 September 2008

Weight-lifting for two?

The Daily Mail is shocked that British mum-to-be Sarah Jane Cousins is still lifting weights just 11 days before her she is due to give birth:

'I feel fantastic. I have no stretch marks and have kept my blood pressure where it should be. I haven't put on much fat, my muscles have stayed strong and I always feel so much better after going to the gym. My midwife is really pleased with how healthy I am.'

Women are not supposed to gain too much weight when they are pregnant but of course they have to gain some weight. You are supposed to exercise but not too much. Women can never women. This woman is exercising with a personal trainer and her midwife is happy with her health. Why shouldn't she continue to train? It annoys me that pregnant women who do look after themselves are made spectacles simply because they are breaking the mould.


Source: http://tinyurl.com/4lnyj5

23 September 2008

Paltrow: off my list!

Gwyneth. What's happened? I thought we had an understanding. You were one of the only 'normal' celebrities left.

Looks like Oprah now has some competition for 'world's biggest narcissist'.

Gwyneth Paltrow has launched her own 'lifestyle' website which is basically a template for how to be like....her! Just when you thought she couldn't get more pretentious, she's named the site 'GOOP: nourish the inner aspect'. First of all what the heck is 'GOOP'?

She claims on the only fully finished page of the site that she wants you to invest in a 'real' life....

I say her life is 'good' because she is Gwyneth-frickin-Paltrow and she has lots of money to make it 'good'.

Seriously wtf?!

Check it: www.goop.com

Post-baby body

Gwen S. one-month post-baby.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/49afay

Nip and tuck and IVF?

Porn star Jenna Jameson is pregnant with twins. Seriously, what is the deal with multiples lately? Is all of Hollywood having fertility treatments? All of the twin pregnancies comes hot on the heels of new warnings from the British government about fertility tourism. Many British women are traveling overseas to receive fertility treatment and coming back with twin and triplet pregnancies. This, according to the British government, is costing the NHS because of higher costs associated with multiple pregnancies. Overseas clinics are apparently more inclined to transfer more embryos into the womb, whereas British clinics tend to only do one at a time because of the medical risks. The treatment is also considerably cheaper overseas. Australia has even jumped on the fertility tourism bandwagon. The Cairns Fertility Centre will open next year with a 5-star resort attached to the clinic. The director describes the centre as a "one-stop-shop" for conceiving couples looking for a bit of relaxation. In addition to the medical facilities, the 12-storey building would include luxury hotel apartments serviced by a swimming pool, gym, spa, barbeque area and restaurants. Beauty therapists will be on board as well as cosmetic surgeons. Apparently, the clinic will be the largest in the world. Women can have a nip/tuck while they also have IVF.

We have seen the future and it is not good.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com/4cumzr

Pucker baby number 3

Jools Oliver, wife of British chef, Jamie Oliver, has announced she is pregnant with their third child. The former model has openly discussed the couple's fertility issues and she was contemplating fertility treatments as it was taking so long to fall pregnant for the third time around. She is due in April. Jamie is dying for a boy.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/4gqb5j

19 September 2008

Camilla Alves talks some sense

Finally some sensible celebrity advice:

Camilla Alves, partner of Matt McConaughey, had this to say about being pregnant and having a caesar in an interview with BabyCenter:

"It’s a hard thing to be pregnant. Your hormones are crazy. Your body is changing. It’s a major change. I really enjoyed being pregnant, but I certainly didn’t love it."

"If there’s any advice I could give to a pregnant women, it’d be to have a natural birth. With c-sections, there’s a lot of pain and recovery is not fun. You already went through the whole pregnancy, and you don’t want to sit around for six to eight weeks in recovery. I don’t understand why healthy women go in and schedule a c-section."

"Women need to give their bodies time to rest. I really recommend that a woman who has the time, take that time to rest, because you’re not getting much sleep."

Source: http://tinyurl.com/524xjj

J.Lo and Gwyneth working it out

J.Lo has announced that she just started using a nanny but that nevertheless, she spends 'every free moment with the babies'.

Somehow, I don't really believe that.

Lopez is apparently happy with her post-baby body. "The triathlon really helped get me in better shape, and snapped me back into my body. I don't weigh myself a lot. I still have 10 lbs., or so. [But] I don't have any problems with it. I never felt I had to get rid of it."

Gwyneth Paltrow also wanks on to Oprah about her post-baby fitness regimen and you can watch a video of her working out with the trainer she shares with Madonna. You can see her bouncing around doing this ridiculous cardio dance routine. I would be embarrassed to have this footage out in the public domain.

Watch it here:

Sources: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20226785,00.html

18 September 2008

Breast best for bouncing back

Ah Tori. She has blabbed to Ok! magazine that after 3.5 months she has stopped breastfeeding so she can lose her baby weight:

"I haven't lost the weight yet! I'm wearing Spanx," she revealed. "I just stopped breastfeeding so now I can start a diet program. Getting back to working out is the hardest part but we have a really active lifestyle."


Clearly, Tori doesn't know about the University of Georgia study that appears in the August issue of International Breastfeeding Journal in which the researchers found that breastfeeding BOOSTS post-baby weight loss. Women who exclusively breastfed their babies lost more weight than mothers who used formula or formula and breastmilk ('mixed feeding')

Sources: http://www.okmagazine.com/news/view/9074

17 September 2008

IVF: pregnancy waiting to happen

Gotta love a little media spin. 2 article about IVF on the same day using the same stats with very different arguments:

Headline: Celebrities give false hope to IVF mums
In this story, the Daily Telegraph claims that only 2% of women over 45 become pregnant successfully through IVF.

"Despite the increase in success rates in women over 40, the majority (over 40) who come for IVF treatment go away without a baby," he said.

Headline: IVF boost for women in their 40s
In this article, women in their 40s have apparently 'doubled' their success rate with IVF over the last 2 years. One doctor is quoted as saying the success rate now amounted to, "a realistic chance" for older women, particularly those aged 40 or 41."

Of course, both articles conclude that IVF is not an 'insurance policy' for women who wait too long. *sigh*

Sources: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24359180-5005941,00.html

16 September 2008

E.Lo: not pregnant, just 'fat'

Eva Longoria is not pregnant, in case you were wondering. The poor woman has had to defend herself constantly. Lately, the scrutiny of her seemingly 'bloated' belly has taken on a new level of creepy obsessiveness in the media.

Eva recently told everyone to 'chill out' about all of the pregnancy speculation. Desperate Housewives castmate Felicity Huffman 'supported' her:

"She’s just fat, that’s all there is to it!" Huffman said on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Right. I hardly think that Eva Longoria is 'fat'. Gotta love women supporting each other.

Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,422843,00.html

Minnie Driver: 'debuting' her post-baby bod

Minnie D. one week post-birth, looking remarkably slender.

Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/news/minnie-driver-debuts-post-baby-bod

15 September 2008

Sexy maternity lingerie: yawn?

New maternity lingerie just hitting stores called Cake. Not very inventive. The gals at Hot Milk have been doing this for awhile now. What annoys me the most is that women are supposed to feel 'empowered' by looking at images of sexed up preggos. I don't know about you, but I think this kind of sexualisation of women's bodies is just as problematic as it is for non-pregnant women. I'm not sure why maternity lingerie has gotten so hypersexualised. It almost feels like designers are obsessed with compensating for the fact that pregnant women have been asexualised for so long that now they are oversexualising them as if to force 'sexy' down our throats. Besides, the women in these types of catalogue images only reinforce the notion that pregnancy is attractive on certain women as long as their bellies are appropriately contained, tight and seemingly not 'fat'.


Source: www.cakelingerie.com

Steel yourself, ladies.

Another gallery of celeb post-baby bods:

Billie Piper: scales are the work of the devil

Billie Piper, gotta love her. Even though she her new show, Secret Diary of a Call Girl is bloody good, no one really cares about that. Every question is asked is always about being pregnant. Here are a few highlights from a BBC interview:

On being chased by cameras constantly:
"People's fascination with people being pregnant is kind of weird. I do eat and I eat a lot. I don't find it annoying though because when I found out I was pregnant people were saying, 'Are you going to make an announcement?' and I kind of thought no because it really has nothing to do with anyone."

On weight gain:
"I don't weigh myself ever. I think scales are the work of the devil. I think they are just awful, it's an awful thing the scale. Every time I go to the doctors they do weigh me and I ask them not to tell me."

On maternity clothes:
"I've never wanted to dress up more and find ways to dress the stomach and my breasts because I've never had them before. I have these new found curves and I have been quite happy about dressing it all. You get a whole new wardrobe, it's exciting."

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/music/newsid_7612000/7612395.stm

14 September 2008

Ulrika Jonsson hates her post-baby boobs

It was only a few weeks ago that Swedish mother of 5, Ulrika Jonsson was railing against the skinny post-baby bodies of her fellow celebritiy mums. She claimed she was not going to worry about losing weight and was proud of her stretch marks. Today she written that she hates her huge post-pregnancy breasts and is planning to have them reduced:

"In my first pregnancy in 1994 when I was 27, I went from a D up to an FF-cup. When I moaned about this to my dear friend Vic Reeves, his eyes lit up and he asked whether the double F stood for ' F***** g Fantastic'.

I set a record this time when I was pregnant, though - I eclipsed all physical possibilities, I thought, when I had to order an I-cup over the internet. Marks & Spencer goes up to a J-cup but its best seller is a 36C.

I was truly repulsed by my breasts and I think my husband, Brian Monet, was stunned into a nine-month silence. I likened myself to a fat, ageing porn star.

Standing in the shower, I could not see the rest of my body when looking down. And don't even get me started on the backache and the painful red grooves the bra straps left on my shoulders.

Which brings me to the post-pregnancy bust. If anything could be less desirable than bloated, humongous 'mummy bags', it's a deflated pair.

You see, I know what's coming over the next few months. Not unlike a tyre with a slow puncture, they will gradually diminish and I will, before you can say the word 'mammoplasty', be left with what can be described only as two ping-pong balls in bin liners."

I've conflicted about this. I think women should be able to make choices about what they do with their bodies. One person's decision to have plastic surgery has nothing to do with me. But, at the same time, it makes me uncomfortable that she frames her justification for wanting a reduction around whether or not her husband would approve. She also says she is not doing the surgery for 'self-esteem' reasons like other women who want to have bigger breasts so they can feel more 'womanly'. Well, of course she is?! If she is uncomfortable with having large breasts and is constantly trying to hide them, I'm not sure how that isn't a matter of self-esteem.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/5z872p

13 September 2008

Pregnant parking

The other day I was chatting to mum who lives in Chicago and she mentioned how she thought of me when she saw parking spots set aside for pregnant women in a local shopping centre. She said she was kicking herself not having a camera to take a photo for me.

On one hand, shops like Babies R' Us are acknowledging that sometimes pregnant women just want to park close to a shop without hassling around. At the same time, however, the idea that pregnant women 'need' these special parking spaces also reinforces the notion that pregnant women are 'disabled' and physically weak. In March, in California, legislators proposed that pregnant women be allowed to park in 'disabled' spots but the proposal never left the ground. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has said the bill's sponsor had good intentions, but that it isn't appropriate, especially considering pregnant women need to be encouraged to physically active.

What do you think? Should pregnant women be entitled to special parking spots?

Rebecca Romijn: caught on film

Finally! Rebecca Romijn, 5 months pregnant with twins, out in LA yesterday. Right. Anyway. She hardly looks 'huge'.

12 September 2008

Garner is growing

Word on the street is that Jennifer Garner is due as early as October. By the size of her belly, I would say probably not until at least the end of the year. Any speculations?

Source: http://tinyurl.com/4w576b

Sheer dress? Sheesh.

"It's not exactly the type of dress you would expect to see a pregnant mother wearing."

That's what the Daily Mail had to say about Billie Piper's sheer gray dress she sported yesterday in London.

I mean really. So it's sheer. Big deal. Considering that most days we see pregnant celebrities flaunting their naked bellies or in some state of undress, a sheer dress is like the maternity equivalent of a hijab.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/3l4h6e

11 September 2008

Moral panic Thursday!

I love a good moral panic. As you probably have noticed, I haven't even touched on Sarah Palin and all of this teen pregnancy tomfoolery. Rather, my attention turns to freebirthing. Yet again.

According to the Daily Mail, as a result of a midwife shortage in the UK, women are being 'forced' to have 'dangerous' homebirths. The maternity system in the UK is so overcrowded, understaffed, and apparently un-hygienic, many women have opted to have their babies at home. Dame Karlene Davis, a midwife said:

'Technology and the internet has led to people thinking they can do freebirthing. If a woman has had a positive experience then people think it’s something worth trying."

Damn that technology. Putting ideas in women's heads. Lead them not into temptation! Even though the British government is unwilling to acknowledge the midwife shortage and birth rates continue to rise in the midst of a crumbling system, I highly doubt that the majority of women in the UK are freebirthing or even homebirthing, for that fact. In most of the West, homebirthing is still rare and unfortunately, women are more willing to suffer the ills of public medical systems rather than have babies at home because they are not given the proper information nor the support to make that choice if they so desire. All of this malarky and panic over freebirthing is evidence of a resounding fear that if women give birth on their own or at home with a midwife, obstetric 'expertise' will be undermined. In Australia, the government is considering giving midwives the power to prescribe medications and to deal with Medicare as a way to cope with understaffing. And why not considering births in Oz are at the highest level since 1971? Of course doctors have attacked this proposal with more 'risk' talk saying that more babies will die if midwives have a greater role in hospitals. No wonder women in Australia and beyond are sceptical of homebirth and freebirth: doctors keep telling them they will die or their babies will die. Sure there are always risks but scare tactics will not fix underfunded and understaffed maternity systems.

Sources: http://tinyurl.com/5kf22l

09 September 2008

Minnie Driver: mother

Minnie Driver gave birth on Friday to a baby boy, Henry Story Driver, in LA. The world can continue to turn.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/5jbcc6

Men: missing all logic and reason

In the immortal words of Jennifer Aniston as she spoke of her philandering ex-husband Brad Pitt, it seems that Jerry O'Connell (hubby to Rebecca Romijn) is missing a 'sensitivity chip'.

O'Connell went on Conan O'Brien on Friday to say that Rebecca was 'huge' and that he told her this regularly. Right. Well, twins will do that to a gal.

He's now issued an public apology:

"I regret calling my wife 'huge. I meant to say that there are specific areas of my wife that are larger than normal and growing every day. All other portions of my wife are quite petite. I apologize to her and will be coming home with flowers."

A dozen roses per baby?

Totally off topic: No photos of Rebecca Romijn have surfaced as yet. Interesting.

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20224278,00.htm

Eating for two: it's harder than you think

And just when you thought pregnant could not possibly get more complicated.

So, for a long time scientists have been wanking on about how women need to continually remind themselves that when they are pregnant they are certainly not 'eating for two'. Newspapers have been blazing with headlines about women programming their foetuses for obesity if they even look at a block of chocolate.

Well. Now, it seems that according to new research from Dr. Helen Budge of Nottingham University, pregnant women who eat too little can also program their foetuses for obesity. Having too few calories in the womb inflames fat cells and this inflammation 'damages' the body's ability to metabolise properly. Thus, foetuses are at greater risk for obesity later in life.

Right. And how did Dr. Budge come to this conclusion?

By testing sheep. That's right. SHEEP.

And her solution? Budge says women must eat a 'healthy, balanced diet'.

How in the world are women supposed to know what 'healthy' or 'balanced' is anymore if science keeps moving the bloody goal posts?

Source: http://tinyurl.com/6ogava

08 September 2008

'Natural' birth is best?

Mothers who give birth naturally are more responsive to the cry of their baby than those who choose to have a Caesarean, American research suggests.

A research team at Yale carried out brain scans on 12 women two to four weeks after they had given birth - known as the early postpartum period.

Half had a Caesarean, the other half gave birth naturally.

The differences in brain activity were found in regions that not only appeared to influence a mother's response to her child, but also to regulate her mood.

It seems oxytocin, the 'love' hormone is a critical factor in the bonding process.

The researchers suggest that women who have caesareans should be encouraged to cuddle their babies straight after birth.

I think this is all a bit problematic. Sure we have known for quite a long time that oxytocin does a number of important things for birth and bonding. Yet, making sweeping claims on the basis of a sample of 12? Hmmm.

Anyone have a different experience? Did you have a caesarean? How was your bonding experience? Did you get to cuddle your baby straight away? If not, how long did you have to wait?

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7594282.stm

07 September 2008

A look back at maternity fashion

As you can probably gather from reading my posts, I am a little bit obsessed with maternity clothes. As I've been writing and re-writing and then re-writing my thesis (which is due now in less than 8 weeks!) part of my work has been constructing a history of Australian maternity wear. And much to my surprise, there has been basically nothing written on the subject. For those of you in America, you have Pregnant Pictures written by Sandra Matthews and Laura Wexler. It's not a maternity clothing history but it is one of the most comprehensive collections of images of American pregnancy and a lot of you can learn alot about the history of maternity fashion just by looking at the images.

Anyway, I spent the better part of Friday at the State Library of Victoria looking at issues of the Australian Women's Weekly in a search for maternity fashion images. I was surprised to find that maternity fashion never featured in the magazine until the 1960s and even then it was not really until 1966 and more so around 1971 that maternity clothes were even considered to be 'fashion'. As in the image above, pregnant women were never really featured in advertisements together. It's actually hard to tell that the gals in the ad above are even pregnant. The A-line dresses that they are wearing are pretty mainstream when it comes to fashion of the time period and there is nothing distinctive about their dresses that says 'pregnancy'. For the most part, in the 1950s, pregnant women were only pictured with their 'husbands'.

I was surprised, however, to find a number of advertisements for stretch mark creams which suggests the body fascism directed at new mothers in the present day is actually not 'new' at all. 'Ugly' stretch marks have been marked as the bane of a mother's existence for quite some time now in the west. Also, lots of ads for maternity bras from Berlei which go on about 'saggy' post-baby boobs.

06 September 2008

Naomi Watts: bump alert

Six months pregnant Naomi Watts was spotted out in NYC looking pretty fabulous. Love her dress!

Source: http://tinyurl.com/6rd2sz

Gwen S: post-baby

Gwen Stefani has made her first post-baby debut since having her Zuma two weeks ago. She was snapped on her way to a postnatal appointment in LA.

Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/news/gwen-stefani-debuts-post-baby-bod

04 September 2008

J.Lo talks about pregnancy in Elle

J.Lo is featured in the latest edition of Elle in which she reveals a bit about her pregnancy:

On being pregnant and commissioning a book of photos of herself for Marc two weeks before giving birth: “I was like, How am I going to rock this moment of my life?... I felt very womanly. Marc was in a dream. He loved it.”

On not being able to get pregnant right away: “We knew nothing was wrong with either one of us—I had been checked, and he had kids already. I knew Something’s not ready here, in my head or in my life, and when it is, I know it’s going to happen.”

On first realizing she was pregnant: “I was sitting down doing hair and makeup and I felt a flutter. The weirdest little…flourish. My makeup artist said ‘What’s the matter?’ I didn’t say anything, but in my head, I was like, I have life inside me!”

On her pregnancy: “We came off tour and I said ‘I did the superwoman thing, I finished the tour—now I need you to take care of me. I love doing things for you; if I’m not cooking, then I’m picking out a shirt. But this is the first time in my life where I’m just going to be a little bit selfish. I don’t know if I’m going to have kids again, so I want it to be a beautiful experience. I don’t want to have any drama. I want to just be smiling every day.’"

More photos from the shoot: http://www.elle.com/coverstory/14295/jlo-fashion-jennifer-lopez-favorite-fashion-designer.html

03 September 2008

Epidurals don't always work!

And I thought having a caesarean was bad with pain medication...

A woman in the UK is planning to sue her hospital for failing to give her proper pain medication during an emergency caesarean. After an epidural, Sarah Carberry, 27 says she could still wiggle her toes and feel her legs but her doctors said that was 'normal'. When they started to cut into her womb, she was quite understandably in agony.

Note to self: wiggling body parts before major surgery = not good

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2660774/Mother-sues-hospital-over-caesarian-birth-without-pain-relief.html

02 September 2008

Atomic Kitten back to feline form

Atomic Kitten singer, Jenny Frost has shed all of her baby weight and then some but says she misses her pregnancy 'curves':

'I put on four stone when I was pregnant and had this great bottom. I loved it - for once, I had curves! I wanted to lose my baby weight , but I hoped I’d keep my bum. But that went and now I’ve got nothing to fill my jeans.'

And apparently she lost the weight through nutrition alone and 'never works out'.

Yeah right.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1051579/How-I-lost-FOUR-stone-Atomic-Kittens-Jenny-Frost.html
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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.