29 March 2008

Minnie Driver: eating is good

As I wrote previously about Halle Berry and Milla Jovovich, many female celebrities clearly have spent many, many years starving themselves for their careers and pregnancy is perhaps the one time in their adult lives when they can eat.

Five months pregnant, Minnie Driver now is saying exactly the same thing:

"It's great just to be able to eat. No guilt! No guilt about anything!"

If only celebrity women could be this confident with food when they weren't pregnant....

Source: http://fametastic.co.uk/archive/20080328/10436/minnie-driver-enjoying-freedom-to-eat-during-pregnancy/

Christina defends her post-baby body

It was only a matter of time before people started to call Christina Aguilera 'fat' even though she has just had a baby. In a bid to regain her pre-pregnancy figure, Aguilera claims she likes her post-baby curves:

"I haven't got back to my pre-baby weight yet, but I'm loving my body. My husband loves my cleavage in particular. I've just got back into the gym and I'm doing boxing and weights. I want to be in shape for my next record."


Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/detail?blogid=7&entry_id=25285

28 March 2008

Yes, you can? No, actually you can't.

As I've already had a few rants about alcohol in pregnancy, it perhaps comes as no surprise that the British National Institude for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is advising pregnant women to avoid drinking completely in the first three months of pregnancy and to be very strict with drinking in the months following.

Whilst there is no definite or consistent evidence of harm to the foetus if a pregnant woman has one glass of wine per week, for instance, it seems a blanket ban on drinking is the preferred method of 'managing' pregnant women because clearly they cannot manage their own bodies themselves.

It's not my place here to debate whether women should drink or not...that is an individual choice; however, what I will say is that I find it SO incredibly offensive that pregnant women are continually instructed on how to be pregnant the 'right' way and no one ever talks about the behaviour of partners (particularly, male partners).

A new study in Birth reveals that men often do not change their negative lifestyle habits such as drug use or smoking and drinking when their partners are pregnant. The researchers argue that it is critical to get partners on board because if a male partner continues to binge drink or smoke, for instance, a pregnant woman will be less inclined to diminish those negative behaviours herself.

"Reductions in substance use among young fathers, both during their partner's pregnancy and after the birth of their child, would likely increase the probability that mothers will relapse to use postpartum, and reduce children's exposure to harmful substance use in the home environment," the researchers conclude.

Seriously, if women are supposed to stop smoking and drinking for the 'health' of the foetus, why in the world is it acceptable to absolve partners of responsibility for their lifestyle choices?

What do you think?

27 March 2008

Freebirthing rant

As I was watching the Today show this morning (Australian version), my ears perked up immediately when I heard that they were doing a segment on freebirthing..no doctors, no drugs, is it safe? as if it were a conspiracy and with the requisite mysterious music playing in the background. I have to say there was nothing in this segement that was particularly 'new' or enlightening. However, I was very interested in how they were going to 'do' this segment and I assumed correctly that of course, freebirthing was too dangerous and too risky and women who do it were basically 'too optimistic' when it comes to the horrors of labour.

Of course, they went straight to Laura Shanley who is widely respected as one of the pioneers of the freebirthing movement in the US (in fact, Laura commented on my last post about freebirthing). Her positive experiences were contrasted with an incredibly idiotic doctor who of course had to say that birth was dangerous blah blah blah and women are stupid for choosing to avoid technologised birth. Not only was his argument vague but rather than saying 'interventionist' in reference to medicalised birth kept saying 'interventionalist'. Makes me slightly worried that he was allowed to leave medical school. In the studio, Dr. Rick Gordon, the medical editor for the show, was interviewedand he is not an obstetrician or an 'expert' in pregnancy or birth and he said 'death' so many times in the segment I just started to get even more angry.

You can watch the segment on the Today show link below and read the accompanying article. I think it would be great if women who have had homebirths or freebirths would write in about their positive experiences to the network and overwhelm them with responses because this was a completely one-sided story.
Email: today@nine.com.au

Source: http://today.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=417872

26 March 2008

J.Lo and her babies

And here they are.....
According to new reports, J.Lo has flown trainer to the stars, Gunnar Peterson out to New York to kick her butt into gear as she prepares to do a triathlon in September or October. J.Lo gained 40 pounds during the pregnancy and while she's lost alot of weight already, she plans to lose 20-25 pounds in the next month.
People boasted a record 4 million hits to their website in the first day.

20 March 2008

J.Lo babies revealed

If you've been eagerly anticipating a glimpse at J.Lo's twin babies, prepare yourself. On Thursday, People magazine will reveal the new mum and her babies on the cover along with inside info on how J.Lo is managing as a mother.

People editor, Peter Casto, says that J.Lo gained 45 to 50 pounds during her pregnancy but that she doesn't mind the weight gain at all (hmm...not so sure about that):

"She wanted to do that because she had twins and she wanted to get those twins big. And they were almost 6 pounds when they were born. And right now, yes, she's lost a lot of the weight, but she is no rush to lose all of it. She is enjoying motherhood and that is what she is concentrating on".

And apparently, even though the couple has 2 baby nurses, 'they do alot of the work themselves'.

19 March 2008

Pain-free birth just a pipe dream?

A new study says that women are kidding themselves if they think they can get through birth without pain relief. British researchers from Newcastle University reviewed 32 studies on expectations of labour pain, finding that most women who didn't want to have pain relief ended up with it.

However, what about home birth? 99% of women in America give birth in hospitals. Definitely not places which are conducive to quelling women's anxieties. 90% of births in New York hospitals are induced and epidurals are often doled out without any measures in places to help women manage pain naturally before the drugs are in place.

A 1988 U.S. study found that mothers that underwent labor in a hospital rated their pain as significantly higher than did a home-birth group. In the spirit of Sheila Kitzinger, what about accounting for those mothers that report euphoric, even orgasmic, feelings during what is supposed to be the most painful event in their lives. This study was obviously not included in the current review. More recent studies suggest that knowledge, confidence, and lower anxiety are predictive of positive childbirth. Also where is the discussion of the value of midwives? Studies show that midwives can help birthing women to find their own ability to cope.

This new review basically shuts down any positive feelings pregnant women may have in anticipating birth. Sure, it hurts and there is nothing wrong with choosing to have pain relief. However, why suggest that women are setting themselves up for failure by even thinking that they could possibly give birth drug-free?!

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/women-are-misled-into-thinking-that-childbirth-can-be-painfree-795721.html

Pregnancy brain

Headline (3 March): Babies can cause 'momnesia'

Headline (today): Pregnancy makes women quicker, smarter

Interesting. The subject of 'pregnancy brain' annoys me to no end. I have no doubt that pregnant women change their priorities in preparation for motherhood; recent research has shown that fluctuations in hormones affect the ways in which pregnant women think as they change their focus from themselves to their babies. Hanging out the washing or remembering a friend's birthday can drop down on the list of priorities as thinking about birth starts to eclipse the things that would have once been important.

Nevertheless, 'pregnancy brain' only further pathologises pregnancy as a condition to managed. Similar to representations of women as chaotic and irrational during menstruation or menopause, the suggestion that women similarly 'lose it' as they become mothers more deeply entrenches negative cultural stereotypes about women and their reproductive bodies.

However, today new research supposedly suggests that pregnancy makes women 'smarter'. Whereas hormones are pregnant women's downfall in earlier reports, this latest report suggests a reservoir of hormones released during pregnancy enacts permanent brain change. Basically, alot of estrogen makes women better mothers; they become more visually aware and perhaps unsurprisingly, strengthens their survival instinct. However, here is the kicker. This new research is based on rats...

Okay, maybe I'm missing something here but pregnant women are not rats. Therefore, I find it pretty ridiculous that a legitimate research group could even conceive of making such a huge scientific leap. Not only are the brains of humans and rats significantly different, the scientists only use unnamed 'observational studies' as evidence to confirm the same reaction in new mothers. The authors of the study argue that if they can replicate this hormone reaction in 'older' women, perhaps they can 'treat' menopause (again, like it's a disease).

Sources: http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23402325-5005961,00.html

16 March 2008

ARGH! Bad journalism = dangerous stereotypes

Headline: Royal college warns abortions can lead to mental illness

That's a pretty controversial headline if you ask me. According to the The Times:

"The Royal College of Psychiatrists says women should not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counselled on the possible risk to their mental health".

Just as I was on the verge of becoming completely incensed with another example of biomedicine and the State intervening in women's reproductive choices with ridiculous scare tactics (kind of like how pregnant women are told if they even look at coffee, they could potentially harm their unborn), I then noticed a link to the actual statement put out by the Royal College.

Whilst the journalist has essentially written that without a doubt, women who have abortions are at risk of mental illness with no indication of which women she refers to, the statement from the Royal College paints a very different picture.

In fact, the Royal College writes that women who have a pre-existing psychiatric condition during pregnancy may be a greater risk for mental health issues following a termination which makes alot more sense than saying any woman who has an abortion is on the road to a mental breakdown. Whereas the journalists cites various studies that support her argument that abortion is bad for mental health, the Royal College notes that the evidence for this is inconclusive.

Moreover, whereas the Royal College suggests updating informational pamphlets distributed to women and putting in place better mental health screening during pregnancy, it seems that some MPs have interpreted this as a perfect oppportunity to put restrict access to abortion. MPs will shortly vote on a proposal to reduce the upper time limit for abortions “for social reasons” from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. Thankfully, this is not yet supported by the government. Even more frightening is that some conservative Christian groups have used the released statement from the Royal College saying that it is not clear whether pregnancy exacerbates mental health issues to argue that if it is not clear that pregnancy is detrimental to women's mental health than why should women be allowed to have abortions at all?

Interesting how many different ways one very neutral statement can be interpreted depending on one's political agenda.

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3559486.ece

Homebirths on the rise in the UK

Although homebirth happens in relatively small proportions in most 'Western' parts of the world (only 2.5% in all of the UK), it seems that giving birth comfortably at home is becoming increasingly more appealing. According to new research, in certain parts of the UK where midwife teams are strong, homebirths have shot up to 14.2% in places like West Somerset.

Alongside new legislation promising that by the end of 2009 all women in the UK will be able to choose how they give birth, including at home, there has been a greater willingness for women to explore their birth options with knowledgeable midwives. However, as fantastic as these new plans seem, there is still an increasing shortage of trained midwives (as in Australia) so the feasability of the scheme is significantly in jeopardy.

Nevertheless, in Wales alone, the government has set a target of 10% of all births to take place at home and this has increased the total homebirth rate overall in Wales over the last six years (even though actual figures are not close to 10%).

If you had one-to-one support from a qualified midwife, would you be more likely to consider giving birth at home?

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-wellbeing/health-news/huge-rise-in-number-of-home-births-796618.html

15 March 2008

More things you don't need

Only in London.

Pregnant women can hire a 'baby concierge' to fulfill all of their consumption needs because apparently, shopping for a human that can't even talk (nor cares about the colour/size/horsepower of his/her pram) requires hired help.

Parents can create their own shopping lists, have a cup of tea and contemplate the merits of a digital hygrometer and thermometer to monitor the atmosphere of their unborn's new nursery or a hand-held UV monitor to guard against sun damage because that's definitely something that all new babies need (or J.Lo's babies, at least).

When did buying for baby become like buying a car?

Would you hire a baby concierge?

Freebirthing blog

My fantastic friend has just written up her freebirthing story in a new blog filled with great links, photos and information. For anyone contemplating freebirth, lotus birth, hiring a doula, or is in need of good books about birth to read, this is the blog for you.

Interested to hear your thoughts about freebirthing or homebirth in response.


11 March 2008

Gwen Stefani pregnancy Round 2

One of the first photos of Gwen Stefani and her baby-on-the-way out in Hollywood yesterday.

Lisa Marie Presley: pregnant and pissed off

Finally, celebrities are fighting back against rumours of 'fat' and not pregnant. Lisa Marie Presley is suing Britain's Daily Mail for 'vicious' attacks on her 'growing physique'. The Daily Mail earlier this week was not very subtle in noticing her weight gain saying:

"Bloated Lisa Marie is now the double of dad Elvis"

Well, they've been served and Lisa Marie wrote on her MySpace blog:

"They couldn't wait to find out if my weight gain was because I was just overeating, in which case It would be open season and they can do the old following in her fathers sad and unfortunate demise story again or less interesting for them and probably much to their dismay, I could just be pregnant and therefore have a legitimate reason for weight gain at which point they should probably wipe the saliva off of their fangs and put them back in their mouths or they may expose the black little souls that they are".

I was amused to see Daily Mail's change of heart with this headline today:
Pregnant and proud: Lisa Marie Presley shows off her baby bump

The Brit's are clearly trying to appease before being forced to pay for their sins, going so far as to suggest that 'Lisa Marie looked radiant and every inch the happy mother-to-be' as she stepped out with her husband Michael Lockwood.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/showbiz/showbiznews.html?in_article_id=529148&in_page_id=1773

Ange steps out with her baby (bump)

Headline: 'Angelina can't hide her baby bump'

Hmm. My guess is that she isn't trying to.


10 March 2008

Pregnancy is a no go zone for FHM

Somehow it doesn't surprise that lad mag FHM recently announced post-baby mums Christina Aguilera and Mylene Klass have made it into the top 50 of the magazine's '100 Sexiest Women' 2008.

According the magazine, Christina and Mylene are being praised for their new..ahem..assets with Christina alone attracting 15,000 votes since appearing very voluptuous post-baby.

Interestingly, pregnant celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Jessica Alba and Nicole Kidman have dropped in their 'sexy' ratings since last year. This is in spite of the fact that another lad mag, Maxim, recently named the '9 Hottest Pregnant Celebrities'

The Editor of FHM, Chris Bell says:

"It seems men no longer fancy women who are with child, no matter how famous or beautiful they are. Are they just more unattainable - or is it the fat ankles?

Could this be any more offensive? I feel for any woman that is pregnant right now. It's hard enough that women are encouraged to be 'sexy' at every stage of their lives, and now even during pregnancy. Maternity clothes are supposed to be tight and if you're belly isn't the perfect shape, taut and tight, you are written off as 'fat' and 'matronly'. Yet, the FHM poll suggests the exact opposite; that pregnant women are categorically 'unsexy' and 'fat'. Pregnant bodies are grotesque and mothers are asexual. For instance, Jessica Alba was named the 'sexiest' woman last year and now she's barely made the list.

Bell continues:

"Either way, less and less men find them 'glowing' and 'radiant' any more.
"However, there has been a huge burst in voting for new mothers. Men are obviously attracted to the benefits of a post-natal flush. If you've seen Christina Aguilera recently, you'll probably understand why."

ARGH! Other than being objects of a pornographic male gaze, those breasts have a function as well.. it's called sustaining new life!

08 March 2008

J.Lo's $1.4 million birth

Following my own report this week that J.Lo allegedly hired a baby masseuse and colour therapist to ease her newborn twins into the world, comes a new breakdown of the costs of her actual birth.

$700,000: reserve birthing suite for three weeks (including leather couches, 2 plasmas, private kitchen, wood floors and computers)

$300,000: private obstetricians

$300,000: security

$100,000: personal assistants before birth

Motherhood literally comes at a price (a very, very big one). Just think, she probably could have had an equally positive experience if she had a midwife and gave birth at home. As more 'older' mothers with discretionary income are having babies, hospitals are cashing in on their anxieties about birth and also ostensibly, on their taste for luxury. Some New York hospitals are offering post-natal suites for $750/night including concierge services just like a hotel.

Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4424052a1860.html

07 March 2008

Letters to our bodies

BlogHer (the community for women who blog) has just started a really fantastic initiative called 'Letter to My Body'. Your letter can be anything you want it to be.

You can upload your letter directly on the BlogHer network here if you have yor own blog: http://www.blogher.com/letter-my-body

Or you can send it to me and I will post a link to this blog showing all of the letters I receive.

I think it would be great if pregnant and post-baby mums wrote letters to their bodies. Of the letters I receive, I'll post the best ones over the next few weeks.

When was the last time you told your body that you loved it?

06 March 2008

Salma Hayek: post-baby body

For the woman described as a 'baby mammoth' during her pregnancy, Salma Hayek is looking to be in perfect form on the April cover of Glamour. The first-time mum says pregnancy was hard on her body:

"I had diabetes while I was pregnant. I became huge. And I said, 'This is what it takes for me to have this baby, and I really want it.' Then you don't know if it's going to be healthy; you are completely out of control," she says. "So the experience really makes you humble."

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20182179,00.html

Nicole not a fan of her improved bust

Any woman that has been pregnant is familiar with 'pregnancy boobs'; the much enhanced cleavage that is so often a blessing for a man in a pregnant woman's life but not always so welcome for the woman who feels like her chest is growing almost as fast as her baby bump.

Nicole Richie and Christina Aguilera have received quite a bit of attention for their post-baby breasts. In fact, as soon as Christina and Nicole made their post-baby debuts, the media interest centred right around their new bust friends.

Nicole has opened up about her post-baby breasts:

"He (Joel) likes it! It doesn't really fit with my wardrobe, it's not who I am. I am not someone who is used to wearing a bra or having to wear a bra, I really don't like it.
"I like wearing vintage hippy see-through shirts that aren't slutty on me because there is nothing to look at. Now I have boobs so I can't really wear it because it sends out a different message."

An honest and interesting comment. For someone like Nicole who has had much smaller breasts pre-pregnancy it is easy to see why having a cultural gaze focused on her much larger breasts as a mother is uncomfortable. This is also fascinating because for most women that I've spoken to in my study, breasts become extremely un-erotic post-birth, meaning that some women feel like their breasts feel like tools to feed a baby and not necessarily the sexual objects they were pre-pregnancy. Breasts are for the baby and not for the partner. However, to the public spectator, calling on sexualised images of women in pop culture, large breasts = sexy. Clearly a sort of bodily contradiction for post-baby mums who have fantastic cleavage but aren't feeling like having the world stare at their boobs.

Nicole's body does clearly look different but not being able to wear her normal clothes is less an issue of fashion and more a realisation that her identity has changed. She is a mother and her body has changed as well to support a baby.

05 March 2008

Nipplegate: Heidi 'no nipples' Klum for Jordache

In August, I wrote about Heidi Klum's post-baby debut as the face (or body, I guess) of the dying denim brand, Jordache. In the sexy ad campaign, replete with a topless Heidi wielding a riding crop, the brand that was last popular when I was 8 years old was back on the market.

However, new photos from the campaign have been released all over New York this week and I've just noticed Heidi is nipple-less. How creepy is this?! So the execs at Jordache have thrown a half-naked woman in the middle of an ad campaign to attract attention and yet, Heidi's nipples are deemed too offensive!
She looks creepy and weird and more like a Barbie doll than the sexy mum that she is.

J.Lo and her baby divas

According to Fametastic, Jennifer Lopez is spoiling her new babies like she would herself. After hiring a colour therapist during her pregnancy to help her design the most soothing nursery for the twins, now that the babies have arrived, not only do they have an entire wing all to themselves but they have classical music piped into their room to keep the peace. J.Lo has hired a baby masseuse to come in a few times a week to ease the babies tired muscles and she has insisted on a totally sterile environment in the nursery.

So if you're still planning to send her a baby gift, it will most likely be de-contaminated before it makes it anywhere near the babies.


03 March 2008

Pregorexia: update

In October, I wrote about 'pregorexia' the 'new' term for anorexia in pregnancy. In the post, I cited an article from The Sun which profiled 2 women who supposedly were 'pregorexic'. http://babybumpproject.blogspot.com/2007/10/pregorexia-eating-for-one.html

As it turns out, Laura Preston, one of the women featured in the article, contacted me and would like to clarify a few things about The Sun feature:

I did not write about Laura directly in my blog post, however she says she's not anorexic and instead was diagnosed with Hyperemisis--extreme morning sickness. She was unable to contact the newspaper so here is her clarification:

'When I did this story it was being queried as to whether I had an eating disorder or not. In the end it turned out to be an illness called 'Hyperemisis' which I had with my first son too. This is basically like anorexia where you are sick throughout the day and can't stop but it is NOT self inflicted. The quotes in the article are all VERY false, being a mum to me is such a responsibility and I love it and would never harm my babies whether in or out of my womb. The picture that they took was actually taken the very day I turned 5 months pregnant and yes I do look skinny, I lost weight during my pregnancy at first but I was only out of hospital a few days before it was taken. That was the last time I was in hospital, after which the sickness calmed down and I enjoyed eating a lot and actually in the end I got told to slow down! I have complained to the magazine and the sun paper about this story but they deny what I say as being true.'

For more info about hyperemisis: http://www.helpher.org/hyperemesis-gravidarum/
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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.