31 January 2009

Rebecca Romijn: hot mamma one month post-birth

One month on from carrying not one but TWO babies, Rebecca Romijn was spotted out in Calabasas, California yesterday.

Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/news/rebecca-romijn-debuts-post-baby-body


30 January 2009

Infertility moral panics: Bah!

Well, it's 43 degrees Celsius (110 F) in Melbourne and I'm moving house. In between packing up my life, I've decided to have a bit of blogging break (I've got air con in my office, thank you jebus) Oh and good news first, you may all refer to me as Dr. BabyBump. That's right. Thesis passed, no amendments. Whooowah.

Anyway, back to business. Nothing irks me more than the current media exhortations to women in their mid-late 30s that if they don't start popping out babies soon, their ovaries will become the next vestigal organ. It seems that the pressure to procreate is now coming even earlier thanks to a new campaign by the American Fertility Association (AFA) to remind women in their 20s that their biological clocks are ticking. The campaign consists of posters like the obnoxious one above and a seminar called 'Manicures and Martinis' at the Dashing Diva Salon in
Manhattan. In these sessions women can have alcohol-free 'Fertilinis' and talk about the the risk of infertility. "I wanted to create a program that was soft, that was light and that was non-threatening," says Corey Whelan, AFA's director of development, now 53 and the mother of 13-year-old twins conceived through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). The goal is to inform women so they can explore their options at an earlier age, she says, and the message is "one of hope, not one of doom and gloom." Uh huh. Sounds like a load of malarky to me. Whenever women (of any age) start to gain real power or privileges in the public sphere, it seems almost uncanny that someone/thing like the government or other institutional powers-that-be, in one fell swoop, can undermine women's political and social gains and start moral panics about becoming a mother as soon as possible. A brief history:

In June 1998, Time magazine asked its readers: ‘Is Feminism Dead’? Tracing the history of the American feminist movement through the images of Susan B. Anthony, Gloria Steinham, Betty Friedan and Ally McBeal, the boyfriend-obsessed, if not charmingly neurotic character played by Calista Flockhart.

With the inclusion of Flockhart, the magazine answered its own question: Of course, it is.

The 1990s were a decade that was nurturing ambitious, confident women. For women, going to work was viewed as a hallmark in their liberation from economic dependence and boredom. High-achieving woman were aspiring to a sexy body, a high-powered career and a great wardrobe. Becoming a mother and baking cupcakes only got in the way of fighting off men to climb the corporate ladder. As Ally McBeal was seen to define independent single women, Time told its readers that the good ship Feminism had sailed. Modern women ‘had it all’ and were no longer in need of feminism, ironically, at a time when feminism was seeing a resurgence among younger women. The ‘third wave’ was taking shape in the eyes of a new generation of women who had grown up with the fruits of the labour of their second wave foremothers. Having never lived in a time without the gains of the second wave, the third wave was about defining what a feminist looks like. It became a movement of the individual, of women who had grown up with the right to vote, the right to choose and the right to sleep with whomever they wanted, uniquely defining the ‘F’ word according to their own experiences.

Thanks to the sassy gals from Sex and the City, the television show that opened the eyes of women worldwide to frank discussions of sex, love and relationships in 1998, just two years later, Time was asking its readers, ‘Who needs a husband’? Charlotte, Miranda, Carrie and Samantha were deemed ‘the daughters of the women’s movement’. By standing in as spokeswomen for sexual freedom and independence, the single woman, it seemed, ‘had come into her own’. Not only was it acceptable for women to buy their own homes, buy their own drinks and spend $400 on strappy sandals if they wanted to, hell, they could even buy their own diamond rings. By the close of the millenium, the ‘Ah’ ring became the sine qua non of the power of the affluent single woman. Symbolising that a woman is ‘available and happy’ (or is it affluent and hyper-competitive?), the Ah ring was made specifically so that single women could have a diamond ring paid for on their own dime. Feminism, apparently having softened its stance on that whole partiarchy thing, was seemigly allowing middle-class women to crash the engagement party with a ring worn on the right hand as a status symbol and not necessarily one’s status of being ‘owned’ by a man. If women could circumvent the antiquated trappings associated with marriage, single women could certainly invest in solo pregnancies. With the popularity of IVF, surrogacy and adoption, more of those single and fabulous women were saying to themselves, ‘Why buy the cow when you can get the sperm for free?’

In the new millenium, singlehood was described as the ‘logical result’ of a generation of gals empowered by the women’s movement. While ladies were being patted on the back for not settling for anything less than Mr. Right, a perfect baby and a white picket fence, they were simultaneously rewarding themselves with the ‘choice’ to foster their own spirit, to relish in their own company. Yet, not only was the essence of the third-wave deeply embedded in a woman’s right to choose (or should I say shoes?), it was also firmly entrenched in having a hot body to match. Whereas becoming a mother was once the essence of femininity, the next generation of women were finding their empowerment in their tiny-waisted ones, big-breasted bodies. With the rise of television shows like What Not To Wear in which the bodies of everyday women are scrutinised from their saggy boobs to their tree-trunk ankles or the covers of tabloids that act as metaphorical calipers squeezing the flesh of female celebrities.

So who is fit to mother? Whereas in earlier generations, mothers seemed to be (un)happily singing the same tune of domestic drudgery, selfless mothering and settling into long days spent with a child on the hip and dinner in the oven, in these uncertain times (economically, socially and politically), an obsessive attention to being a good mother has posed something of an existential crisis for women who want to ‘have it all’ as sexy, high-achieving, independent women.

The whole industry (and yes, it is an industry) of infertility is reliant upon women who are told that as soon as they hit the age of 35, the egg factory will be invariably shutting up shop. Women must be aware of their fertility from the moment they begin to menstruate and are encouraged to have children early in life so as to circumvent any unforeseen 'problems' later on, as a sort of reproductive 'insurance' policy. The overriding message is that if you wait too long, you can find yourself with a 'barren womb' and it is nobody's fault but your own. Why fault women for finally making themselves happy? I thought we had evolved past the women-as-baby-making-machines.

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/id/181840

29 January 2009

Botox: not good

Ladies, a word of advice in case you are planning to freeze your face during pregnancy:

Don't do it.

According to The Cosmetic Physicians Society of Australasia (CPSA), the use of Botox during pregnancy or while breastfeeding should be strictly prohibited due to the high risk of birth defects. The call for plastic surgeons to follow these guidelines strictly comes on the heels of a case of a woman who injected a similar anti-wrinkle toxin into her face during the first month of pregnancy. Her baby was born blind and deaf.

How important is a wrinkle-free face?

Sources: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/alltherage/2009/01/pregnant-women.html

28 January 2009

Eye-catching campaign promotes public breastfeeding

This is quite possibly the coolest breastfeeding campaign I've seen in a long time. The Marin Breastfeeding Coalition (MBC) is putting up life-size cardboard cutouts of women breastfeeding around the North Bay in order to promote and encourage the acceptance of mothers feeding their babies in public. Each of the cut-outs has a sign that reads, "When breastfeeding is accepted, it won’t be noticed."

Now, I think this is a fantastic way to draw attention to the benefits of breast milk. On the other hand, the statement on the sign is a little problematic for me. I can appreciate that the MBC is trying to make people give a second-thought to preconceptions about public breastfeeding. But will it ever be possible to stop people from gawking at exposed breasts? Can we ever subtract associations with sex from breasts? Or can we reasonably expect that other people will not be genuinely interested and curious to look at a woman feeding a child?


27 January 2009

Jenna Jameson: goodbye porn, hello mummy

I've been waiting to see a photo of porn queen, Jenna Jameson pregnant (with twins, I might add). Well, here she is. She is leaving porn to pursue motherhood full-time.

Source: http://www.theinsider.com/news/1585500_Jenna_Jameson_s_Growing_Baby_Bump

23 January 2009

Epidurals are now safe for birth

According to a report from New Scientist, epidurals are safer than once thought. Previously. it was thought that the risk of lasting harm from an epidural during birth was 1 in 25,000. New research shows the risk to be closer to between 1 in 320,000 and 1 in 80,000. Women giving birth with an epidural are actually now thought to be at the lowest risk of lasting harm. The highest risk patients are the elderly (risk of 1 in 6,000 to 1 in 12,000).

Tim Cook, a consultant anaesthetist at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, who led the project, said: “What the project has shown is that many complications of epidurals occur after major surgery in elderly unhealthy patients. The risks must also be balanced against the generally accepted benefits of epidurals.”


21 January 2009

Lily Allen: depression following miscarriage

Poor Lily Allen.

She may come off as a boozy trash-talker (with a striking wardrobe, I might add) but nevertheless in People she recalls her difficult times following her miscarriage last year.

I wrote about how inappropriate the worldwide announcement of her pregnancy loss was at the time:

Nevertheless, she says she went to a 'nuthouse' following the miscarriage:

"I stayed there for three weeks. I was really depressed because of the miscarriage and I'd kind of lost the plot a bit. It was quite a nasty time," she says."Maybe if I had stayed pregnant and had the baby then things would have worked out between me and Ed," she says. "I don't know. You could drive yourself insane thinking about it."

Ah geez, girlfriend. If you have learned anything from the movies or Lifetime television for women, everyone knows you never have baby to keep a man. Look how well that worked out for Victoria Beckham?

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20253684,00.html

18 January 2009


Interesting. In an Australian first, surrogate mothers in NSW will be paid $10,000 for carrying another woman's child in a proposed change to existing laws. Although it is argued the commercial surrogacy will still remain illegal in Australia, the money is supposed to help surrogates cover lost wages while they are pregnant as well as medical costs.

The Opposition's spokeswoman on women, Pru Goward, says the planned changes are a good idea.

"The Opposition supports compensating women for the medical costs in the last couple of months and also the loss of earnings in the last couple of months because most pregnant women don't work in the last couple of months," she said.

"What the Opposition would not encourage is the commercial surrogacy, the hiring out of a woman's uterus."

John Morrissey from the Australian Family Association says "Commercial surrogacy amounts to rent-a-womb, obviously. But our concerns are with surrogacy in itself, that it commodifies a child," he said.

I tend to disagree. I think that just because women are helping other women to become mothers does not mean that pregnancy cannot also be a business transaction. I hate that as a result of this long-standing perception of women's bodies as 'natural' and being closer to nature, therefore, anything related to motherhood is automatically pure and uncommodified. If you think about it, everything about pregnancy today is totally commodified. From designer prams, boutique maternity clothing and expensive prenatal care, affluent women spend an enormous amount of money on pregnancy and their bodies during this 9 month period. No one seems to have a problem with this. It seems ridiculous to worry about the commodification of a child through surrogacy when foetuses are commodified through entertainment ultrasounds and through the purchase of baby clothing well before the baby is born. Pregnancy is commodified through IVF when couples pay to have their eggs fertilised and no one seems to have a problem with that!

I think this is a dangerous argument because it is just like saying that women who stay at home to be mothers don't 'work' because they are not being paid to stay at home. The only reason that SAHM are not paid to be mothers and to do housework is because it is too often assumed that women should selflessly do caring work; to ask for or to be offered compensation for nurturing/domestic tasks is antithetical to everything our culture believes to be associated with motherhood. This is the same situation with surrogacy. If a surrogate is being paid, it leaves an icky taste in many a mouth because it suggests that women can sell their wombs, in effect, taking the romance out of pregnancy and motherhood.

Any thoughts?

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/01/18/2468523.htm

17 January 2009

Miscarriage a normal part of pregnancy

A new Australian study takes the stigma out of miscarriage: according to research from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (following 12,000 women), miscarriage is much more common about younger women than previously expected. For every three women who have given birth by their early 30s, one has had a miscarriage. By their early 20s, 6 per cent of women had already had one, and by their early 30s it was 15 per cent.

As a result of using confidential questionnaires, women were more inclined to reveal their miscarriages (including those that never came to the attention of doctors).

Why is this important? Because the results suggest that miscarriage is a 'normal' part of pregnancy and that many more women experience them than previously suggested.

Source: http://www.theage.com.au/national/miscarriage-rates-revealed-20090116-7j77.html

15 January 2009

Lisa Marie: the joy of two

The first photos of Lisa Marie Presley and her twin girls, Finley and Harper, have arrived in a People exclusive. "I really wanted these babies," says Presley, 40, who tried for two years to get pregnant before conceiving the twins.

"My blood was too thick and would clot, which caused several miscarriages," she tells People. "The moment I took blood thinners, I got pregnant."

Although poor old Lisa Marie was chastised for looking 'too fat' when she was pregnant, she admits, "I was unable to see my toes by the fourth month, but I only gained 30 lbs. total. I worked out up until the seventh month."

There you have it. Elvis would be proud.

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20252307,00.html

14 January 2009

Cereal is not sex linked (duh!)

Back in April I blogged about a British study that suggested that women who ate lots of cereal when they were pregnant were more likely to have a boy:

According to a different research team from Cornell, this is..well..highly unlikely. Using a different statistical test, the authors think that the results from the first study were largely due to chance:" By our analysis, it looked like everything was random and there was nothing special about cereal," says Stan Young, assistant director for bioinformatics at the National Institution of Statistical Sciences.

Just by the nature of a large dataset, it is inevitable that the interaction of some variable will show statistical significance. Confirming my own suspicions at the time, the Cornell group further implores the tenuous link between nutrition and gender (if there is one at all).

So ladies, you can keep eating the Cap'n Crunch but just don't get your heart set on a growing a tiny pair of testicles in your womb.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/765psy

Naomi Watts has the weight sucked out of her

Naomi Watts, having given birth to her second son just one month ago, has the answer to post-baby weight loss: breastfeeding.

"I'm breast feeding and he's sucking it all out of me, it seems," Watts, 40, told People magazine on the red carpet when asked how she got back in shape so quickly.

"And when the baby comes out, it's a lot of weight right there."


Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4818347a1860.html

Carnie Wilson: blah blah blah

Famous for her struggles with weight loss and her very public experiences with gastric bypass surgery, Carnie Wilson (formerly of Wilson Phillips) is pregnant again and was talking about being a mum at 40 and gaining weight on The Bonnie Hunt Show yesterday.

Carnie reached her goal weight of 150lbs in October of 2008 and was featured in Ok! talking about her plans to get pregnant (which she did in Nov): http://www.okmagazine.com/news/view/8440

Oddly, however, in her chat with Bonnie Hunt, Wilson said:

"I am glad that I lost 50 lbs. before I got pregnant but honestly, I just push the big old pause button when I get pregnant."

Right. I hate to be the bearer of bad news here but isn't 'pushing the pause button' how you ended up being 208 lbs in the first place? That is not a comment intended to castigate people that are overweight. Rather, it annoys me that Carnie Wilson spends alot of time talking about eating healthfully and losing weight (in fact, she is probably more famous for her weight gain/losses than her singing career) and yet she throws that all by the wayside when she gets pregnant. She went to extraordinary lengths to lose weight in order to fall pregnant for the second time. According to Ok! she said her diet was quite strict:

"I’m not allowing myself anything that’s off my regimen: no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, no red meat, no flour of any kind. It’s really strict, but I like how it feels."

Pregnancy has clearly become an excuse for her to change her eating. She told Bonnie Hunt:

"I don't eat red meat anymore. Now I am just a cheese freak because of the pregnancy. I can't stop with the cheese. And bagels."

Rather than talking about what she is eating (or not eating) constantly, perhaps Wilson should just shut about it all and maybe people (like me!) wouldn't have to be annoyed with the flip-flopping between being the poster-girl for weight loss and the 'I-don't-care-give-me-another-block-of-cheese' pregnant woman. Honestly, if you are going to eat, eat. Stop justifying it to other people but on the other hand, stop pretending that it doesn't matter. Weight loss and weight gain so clearly do matter to Wilson. She's spent alot of time and money on surgery, diets and personal trainers.

Source: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20251996,00.html

13 January 2009

A story of (breast)milk

Fantastic article by Jill Lepore this week in The New Yorker about the history of breastfeeding and how it has come to pass that more American women are pumping their milk:

"Pumping is no fun—whether it’s more boring or more lonesome I find hard to say—but it has recently become so common that even some women who are home with their babies all day long express their milk and feed it in a bottle. Behind closed doors, the nation begins to look like a giant human dairy farm."

Check it out: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/01/19/090119fa_fact_lepore?currentPage=1

How many of you out there pump? Does your workplace have a room for expressing or nursing?

Two twins or no twins.

Oh the controversy! A British woman called Lisa has just been told that she is pregnant with twins...conjoined twins, that is. The babies share one body and have two heads. The babies are known as dicephalus twins, the rarest known type of Siamese twins. Doctors believe the babies have a 20% survival rate (no twins of this kind have suffered after birth in Britain).

Lisa and her husband Mike (both Catholic) have decided to continue with the pregnancy:

"Some people might look at me and say: 'You're going to give birth to a freak' – but I don't care because I feel blessed," she said.

"To me my twins were a gift from God and we're determined to give them a chance of life."

Of course, people are sensationalising this story, making the poor couple look like nutjobs (140 articles written about the story at the time of writing this post).

Any thoughts?

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4220334/Conjoined-twins-Woman-pregnant-with-twins-with-two-heads-and-single-body.html

12 January 2009

Be a part of my book!

Hello all.

I have opportunities to offer you.

As many of you know, I am writing a book about yummy mummies, baby bumps and body image.

I am looking for a few women to follow for the book through pregnancy and post-birth. I am in need of:

1) self-described 'yummy mummies'
2) a pregnant women in rural Australia
3) someone who is planning (or has done) a pregnancy spa retreat
4) someone who has done or is planning to go on a babymoon

For more details, email me: babybumpproject[at]yahoo.com.au


No hombirth for Sporty Spice

Charlotte Church, 22, gave birth to her second child, a boy, at home on Sunday. The young mum has spoken out a number of times this year about her positive homebirthing experiences.

There will be no homebirth for former Spice Girl Melanie Chisholm. Due in February, the singer is freaking out thanks to some not so supportive words by fellow bandmate Mel B (Scary Spice). "Mel B has been talking me through all the fine details of giving birth and has told me loads of horror stories," she said. "Well, she is Scary, isn't she? So I suppose it's her job to scare me a bit."

"I want to give birth in hospital, rather than at home, just in case something goes wrong - especially as it's my first," she says.

Sources: http://www.charlottechurch.com/

09 January 2009

Dati back at work and causing more firestorms

French Justice Minister, Rachida Dati has returned to work 5 days after having a caesarean section and giving birth to her first daughter...

And the 'French feminists' (sure, blame the femmos) are enraged and Dati for setting a poor example. French women are entitled to 16 weeks paid maternity leave.

"This is scandalous," said Maya Sturduts from the National Collective for the Rights of Women.

"Employers can now use this to put pressure on women", she said, especially during the current tough economic times when employers may be looking for excuses to cut staff.

Others are claiming that Dati 'had' to return to work, lest she lose her place in male-dominated political circles.

Not sure how I feel. Pregnancy is not an illness. Women shouldn't be judged for returning to work quickly. On the other hand, it would be so sad to think that this women, upon the joyous birth of her first child, felt she would lose her credibility as a politician if she took the maternity leave she is legally entitled to take.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/8mnhax

Totally Tori looks hot part 2

Tori Spelling is back in the news for finally kicking the 50lbs she gained in her second pregnancy. If you remember, she dropped the weight from her first pregnancy with Nutri-System in like 3 minutes flat:


Now, since Tori is like thisclose to signing on to a reprise her role on 90210, she is looking svelte once again. This time, however, her post-baby bounce back took 6 months. This time she was a bit more sensible and didn't try to lose the weight quickly and she didn't work out like a fanatic:

"Breakfast was yogurt, fruit and nuts. Lunch was homemade soup with a sweet potato or soy milk base. We'd snack on celery and peanut butter, and then I'd make lean protein with vegetables for dinner. For me to go to the gym and leave my kids doesn't make sense."

Good to see her setting a better example...

Source: http://www.fitsugar.com/2666512

Don't have a caesar before 39 weeks!

Just the way I like to start my morning...finding a reason to hate Victoria Beckham just a little bit more...

Turns out a new study has shown that scheduling a caesar earlier for reasons of convenience is bad for baby and for mum. In a group of 24,000 babies, those who were born at 37 weeks to mothers who had elective caesars were twice as likely to experience breathing problems and blood infections. Even though babies are considered 'full term' at this stage, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that women wait until at least 39 weeks. It is also argued that breastfeeding and bonding can be more difficult the earlier a baby is born.

On the other side of the coin, Michael F. Greene of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study said, "This paper, although it provides important information about risk, does not give us the whole story. It doesn't provide an accounting of how many babies may have died waiting to get to 39 weeks. You have to balance both sides of the ledger."

There you have it. Don't be like Posh and have your baby earlier if you don't need to.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/7eqee5

08 January 2009

Morning chicness makes me wanna hurl


Everytime I see a stupid, completely pointless product for pregnant women, mothers or children I always think that there could be nothing more ridiculous than the product I am looking at.

Until today.

Apparently, yummy mummies not only can have designer diaper bags, luxury prams and expensive maternity gear, they can also have 'stylish morning sickness vomit bags'. The bags come in an array of 'beautiful, trendy' designs with unbearably annoying names such as 'Labour of love', 'Tickled pink' and 'Bambooboo'. For $7.50 you can get a pack of 10 designer bags so you will no longer be embarrassed to carry around your vomit in public.

Right. So as inconvenient as pregnancy sickness may be, I would think that puking in public is pretty horrible as it is and it doesn't matter what receptacle you use. I mean who really cares if your barf bag has bamboo and love hearts on it as opposed to an rubbish bag. It's going in the flipping rubbish bin anyway. At least when pregnant women use old bags that they have lying around they are 'recycling' in some way...wasting more paper and spending more money on bags specifically designed for puke is silly.

I think I'm gonna hurl.

Source: http://www.morningchicnessbags.com/

Lisa Rinna: I look like a freak

An admission from Lisa Rinna appears on MomLogic, in which the former Melrose Place actress and mother of two comes clean about her plastic surgeries and regretting going a little too far. Asked about what surgeries she regrets she said:

"My cheeks. I had Juvederm put in my cheeks. That's what I overdid -- big time. I tried it because my girlfriends did it. I thought: I'll do it! I saw a photo and I was like, "Oh Jesus. That's no good. That's NOT good." What I learned is that I don't really need it. You get older and insecure and you think you need it and you don't. I learned less is more. Keep your skin good. But, I still like Botox. It's great! It doesn't change the shape of my face. When you change your face, you don't look like yourself. Looking fresher is one thing. I look like a freak! I always said I wouldn't change my face, but I did it. I can't not be honest about it. I'd look like a fool. It's so obvious. I don't believe in lying. I used to feel like it was nobody's business. But when this happened, I realized I couldn't hide it."

Hmm. Can't say I feel sorry for the woman. Um..injecting things in your face is never a good thing. I mean, hello...botox is a poison. Besides, if she didn't 'look like a freak' she never would have said anything in the first place!


06 January 2009

Maternity leave = fewer caesars and better breastfeeding

In case the Australian and US governments need another to institute paid maternity leave: two new studies have shown the health benefits of maternity leave for both mother and baby.

One of the reports found that women who started their maternity leave in the last month of their pregnancy were less likely to have caesarean deliveries, while the second found that new mothers were more likely to establish breast-feeding the longer they stayed out of work.

A report published in Women's Health Issues found women who took leave before they gave birth were almost four times less likely to have a primary caesarean section as women who worked through to delivery.

The second report published in Pediatrics found that women who took less than six weeks of maternity leave had a four-fold greater risk of failure to establish breastfeeding, while women who took six to 12 weeks of maternity leave had a two-fold greater risk of failing to establish breastfeeding.,

Source: http://tinyurl.com/89c5qk

Rebecca Romijn welcomes twins

Rebecca Romijn, 36, has given birth to twin girls, Dolly Rebecca Rose and Charlie Tamara Tulip.

Romijn has been on bed rest for the last few months. She told Page Six magazine in November that she was ready to give birth.

'I can't move anymore...I'm a beached whale!' she said. "I have not been without a bra this entire pregnancy. I refuse. I'm not taking any chances. I'm determined to keep the puppies up!"

Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/news/rebecca-romijn-jerry-o-connell-welcome-twin-girls

Self-induced abortion: life saver or health risk?

Today, a fascinating report from the New York Times describes a an unspoken tradition among Dominican women to perform their own 'abortion' using pills, herbal teas and other unconventional methods due to a wider cultural view of shame surrounding abortion, the use of condoms and denial about unplanned pregnancy.

A survey conducted by Planned Parenthood of 1200 Latinas in New York, San Francisco and Boston found "reports of women mixing malted beverages with aspirin, salt or nutmeg; throwing themselves down stairs or having people punch them in the stomach; and drinking teas of avocado leaf, pine wood, oak bark and mamon fruit peel." More recently, however, a number of Dominican women have been using misoprostol, an prescription drug that is approved for reducing gastric ulcers but induces miscarriage. Women often obtain the pills at pharmacies that are known to 'bend the rules' or from overseas. This is seen as the best available option to women who have no insurance, are not living in the country lawfully or who do not want to deal with the shame of pregnancy.

Women's health works, however, are concerned that women are not using these methods appropriately and might be risking their own health if using the traditional and over-the-counter methods incorrectly. Given the US abortion laws, some women are even being prosecuted for knowingly attempting to end their pregnancies. According to the NYT:

"In 2007 in Massachusetts, an 18-year-old Dominican immigrant named Amber Abreu took misoprostol in her 25th week of pregnancy and gave birth to a 1-pound baby girl who died four days later; a judge sentenced her in June to probation and ordered her into therapy. In South Carolina in February, a Mexican migrant farm worker, Gabriela Flores, pleaded guilty to illegally performing an abortion and was sentenced to 90 days in jail for taking misoprostol while four months pregnant in 2004..."

There seems to be widespread criticism of women who self-abort, mainly surrounding the idea that in causing themselves to 'miscarry' they turn abortion into a 'natural' process. I think we should be more concerned with helping women who can't afford to have an abortion with the appropriate tools to terminate a pregnancy rather than worrying about denial or what word is being used to describe such an experience. 'Miscarriage' or 'abortion', women should not have to continue with an unwanted pregnancy. In the case of these Dominican women, I think the consequences of having an unwanted child are more significant than the cost of having an abortion or 'miscarriage', etc.*

*This post is not intended to spark a heated debate as to the ethics of abortion. This is just my view and this is an old debate. Berating women who choose to have abortions is not productive and undermines the point of this post.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/nyregion/05abortion.html?pagewanted=2&em

05 January 2009

Angel gowns: when pregnancy ends in heartache

I came across a really interesting concept recently that made me think about an issue that I tend to forget as I rant about pregnancy, losing baby weight and the fatuous lives of celebrities. Dana, from Unique Christening Gowns in Melbourne, pointed me in the direction of her online store as a reminder that sometimes pregnancy ends in heartache. After all, according to the Bonnie Babies Foundation, one in every four pregnancies ends in a loss from miscarriage and stillbirth. Over 17,000 babies are born prematurely, many of them often struggling for life. The organisation provides free grief counseling for couples that have lost a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth or prematurity.

Dana creates beautiful gowns for parents to bury their babies, 'angel gowns', a product that is strangely non-existent in the mainstream market. As grief counselors tell grieving parents to find a way to connect with their babies' short lives, often having a proper funeral is an important way for parents to farewell their children meaningfully. I have heard over and over again from women who have miscarried how angry they are when friends and relatives respond to their grief with the statement that they can just 'try again', implying that a miscarriage is not the loss of an actual 'life' to many women. A number of women in my study told me that it took them months and even years to feel confident enough to try for another baby after so many previous disappointments.

Sources: http://uniquechristeninggowns.blogspot.com/search/label/angel%20gowns

Who's her baby daddy? Who cares!

French Justice Minister Rachida Dati, known for her stylish outfits that have allegedly raised the ire of lawyers and judges, has given birth to a baby girl, Zohra. Dati, however, much like Minnie Driver in the US, has been at the centre of a media frenzy given her tight-lippedness about the identity of her baby's father.

Some reporters have speculated Sarkozy's brother is the father and the child was registered under the name of her mother only in a private French clinic. While the British press has been trying to get the centre of this 'scandal', the French themsleves seem remarkably non-plussed about the situation and thankfully so. I find it interesting that no one has even considered that Dati, at the age of 43, might have had used an anonymous donor (although she couldn't have done so in France - French law allowed only couples to do so). It seems remarkable that people still worry about the 'father' as if powerful, clearly competent women were somehow rendered incapacitated without a man by their sides.

Nevertheless, the most interesting part of Dati pregnancy for me has been her urgency to return straight back to work. Not only did she book in for an elective caesarean, she is reportedly taking only one week of maternity leave in spite of the hefty 16 weeks offered to French women. She is clearly worried that her position is vulnerable given her 'complicated' personal life and some speculate that the birth of her first child is a golden opportunity for Sarkozy to get her out of the political spotlight.

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article5445131.ece

03 January 2009

Facebook breastfeeding ban here to stay

It looks as though Facebook isn't giving in to the pleas by thousands of FB mums who have been protesting the discriminatory policies of the social networking site in the deletion and censorship of their photographs of breastfeeding. The exposure of nipple is the reason for the deletions.

The New York Times reports Barry Schnitt, a spokesman for the company, said that banning nudity was a clear and consistent line to draw. “We think it’s a consistent policy,” said Mr. Schnitt. “Certainly we can agree that there is context where nudity is not obscene, but we are reviewing thousands of complaints a day. Whether it’s obscene, art or a natural act — we’d rather just leave it at nudity and draw the line there.”

Source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/02/breastfeeding-facebook-photos/?ref=technology

Orgasmic birth: an old (mid)wives tale?

Orgasmic Birth. That's the name of a new documentary in which women breathlessly recount their pleasure-filled childbirths and how much they enjoyed a really good push.

A scathing critique of the film appears in The Age: http://tinyurl.com/9yr9ek

I'm not going to comment on whether orgasms are possible during birth because I have no idea but I'm open to the idea. Has anyone experienced this? What do you think? An old (mid)wives tale?

Reborns: dolls the new babies?

Considering my last post about text messages that remind you when to knock boots, for those women who can't be bothered with sex, pregnancy, birth or losing weight postpartum, one enterprising company has created the product for you.

Enter Reborn Baby Dolls, dolls that are 'made to look and feel like real babies'.

Uh huh.

"To add extra realism some babies have:
Beating Hearts, Breathing Mechanisms, Magnetic Pacifier / Dummy, Magnetic hair bows, belly plates, clothing and more...."

The scary thing? Some women treat these dolls like real babies. They talk to them, change their nappies, and some even have birthday parties for the dolls (plastic) and invite real (human) people over. A fake party with fake friends for your fake baby.

According to the ABC website, Linda says she feels like a mom now that she has reborns.

"I take them out to the park, if I'm walking the dog, and maybe put it in its stroller, or put it in its sling, or hold it in a blanket, and people do think it's real."

She even buys her dolls real baby clothes.

What bothers me about this is that buying a doll that has no way of reciprocating emotion or being sick or grumpy only gives women the 'good' bits about 'motherhood': a commodified, highly santised version of looking after a newborn. Moreover, the babies never grow up.

Owner of 36 dolls, Lachelle Moore said that she still feels the need for babies who'll never grow up.

"What's so wonderful about reborns is that they're forever babies," she said. "They don't give you any trouble. There's no college tuition, no dirty diapers. … Just the good part of motherhood."

Linda says it's better than having a "crazy habit" such as "drinking, or something that's going to hurt you."

I hate to be judgemental but I think girlfriend has had a few cups of crazy if she thinks that a doll is any substitution for a 'real' baby.

Source: http://www.stillmomentsnursery.com/store/page_3.html

Text messages tell you when to get it on

For the busy professional trying to get pregnant, a new service from the folks at BabyCenter is arguably the most disturbing reminder of not only how technologised pre-conception, pregnancy and birth have become but also provides me with great pleasure in not having succumbed to the powers of a Blackberry.

Called Booty Caller, using information about your ovulation cycle, the service texts you when the time is right to make babies (3 texts per menstrual cycle). Sample messages include:

• "Your fertile window starts in 1 week. Find out if your chances of getting pregnant are better in the morning."

• "Your fertile window opens today and lasts 5 more days. Stress can get in the way of conception so relax and get a massage, meditate, or take a yoga class."

• "Today is your last fertile day! If you get pregnant during this cycle, your due date will be on or around 6.25.2009.”

Hmm, while the service ostensibly is providing 'helpful advice', it's hard not to think that such a service also serves as a pretty horrible reminder that if you don't get pregnant by the last text message, you have 'failed' at your mission.

Forget about 'Today is your last fertile day', why not just say 'You're 41. Are you kidding yourself?'

Besides, couples trying to get pregnant often complain that sex becomes like a chore when baby-making becomes the single-minded obsession of a woman who can hear her 'biological clock' ticking in the background. It's bad enough that most surveys say that sex dries up in many marriages without the added burden of trying to get pregnant. Why add a text message to an already stressful situation?


Choices in childbirth more complex in 2009

Welcome to 2009. What better way to celebrate the new year then to see new statistics from NSW that show a huge disparity between childbirth intervention rates in private and public hospitals. According to recent reports, here are some humbling statistics:

  • the caesarean rate is hovering close to 40% in private NSW hospitals
  • between 1/4 and 1/3 of women in private hospitals have an episiotomy compared to only 10 % in public hospitals
  • forceps and vacuum deliveries comprise nearly 15% of all private hospital births
  • in one NSW private hospital, only 4% of women go without any pain relief
Whereas American private hospitals have long been the 'bad guy' when it comes to intervention in childbirth (nearly 50% of women in some New York hospitals are induced), it looks like Australia's private health system is increasingly putting some women in danger of being subject to a similar cascade of intervention as the age of childbirth increases, more women are requesting elective caesareans and more middle-aged women have private health insurance and are increasingly concerned about any 'risk' to the health of their foetuses.

Although there are not any easy solutions to such a complex issue, particular when it comes to the role of choice and power in hospitals, it seems that some things can be addressed quite easily. For instance, midwives often encourage women to give birth standing up or in other positions that progress labour more quickly and effectively. When women have epidurals, standing is not possible.

Any Aussies out there who feel they were forced to 'choose' intervention during birth?

Source: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/the-painful-truth-about-childbirth/2009/01/02/1230681748836.html

Kate Winslet: how doth you annoyeth me

Kate Winslet is back in the news again for her 'sexy new shape' and again, banging on about how she doesn't exercise (much).

"I don't go the gym because I don't have time," Winslet says in the February issue of UK Elle. "But I do Pilates workout DVDs for 20 minutes or more every day at home."

She reckons she has maintained her size 6 (US) figure for the last five years by not 'stuffing down chocolate biscuits'. Uh huh.

While I applaud Kate for making openly admitting she has cellulite, let's be for reals here..I do Pilates and yoga and while both of them kick my arse more than you could ever imagine, it's not cardio and everyone knows that it's cardio that kicks off the kilos.

Kate: enough with the boring 'I don't care about my weight' platitudes. Just admit you have a trainer like every other actress in Hollywood.

Source: http://www.usmagazine.com/news/kate-winslet-workout-plan-20-minute-pilates-dvds
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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.