30 April 2009

SJP is having twins!


Apparently, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick have just announced that they are expecting twin girls through a surrogate this summer. This is crazy!

How interesting! No details have been released surrounded the circumstances of the surrogacy arrangement however, considering SJP is 44 and currently working on the SATC sequel and has 3 other films in pre-production, my guess is that she decided she didn't have the time to be pregnant. I think this is truly a defining moment in the problematics surrounding work/life balance for women in the new millennium. I doubt that SJP thought that she was 'too old' to get pregnant because why then, would she consider having twins at the age of 44. Considering her body is such a defining feature of her work and she clearly works constantly, it again, makes me a little sad if she thought she didn't have enough time to have another baby (or babies) because of her career. Surely, she has enough industry power to stop and start her career whenever she chooses?! Forget IVF. Is surrogacy the answer to the women's movement?


28 April 2009

Pill popping/Milk stopping

Just when we thought we were making in roads in convincing women that breastfeeding is by and large very good for babies, the Daily Mail has announced that some mothers in the UK have been resorting to the HIV drug called Cabergoline, which is marketed as Dostinex, in order to stop lactation. This drug is specifically made for women who have HIV so that they quite sensibly won't risk passing on the virus to their babies through breastmilk. Nevertheless, the off-market uses are interesting. Cabergoline is used by women who don't want to breastfeed for whatever reason (because it is painful) or because they don't want to wait until their milk dries up naturally. Some of the important off-market uses of the drug are also for women who have traumatic first births or for women who have still born babies and quite legitimately don't want to be reminded of their trauma.Women are also using it for 'social reasons': some women are taking the drug because they are worried that breastfeeding changing the shape of their breasts (which pregnancy does anyway). The drug takes effect very quickly (just 2 doses over 12 hours) and some obstetricians freely administer the drug to women who ask for it. Kevin Harrington, an obstetrician with a private practice at London's Portland Hospital, said that he offered cabergoline to women who could not or did not want to breastfeed.

'The breastfeeding police frown on the use of cabergoline. But for some women their breasts are an important part of their sexuality and they don't want to use them to provide milk. There is not enough difference between breast milk and infant formula to make a fuss about it.'

I don't know how I feel about this. I know that breast isn't best for everyone but it makes me a bit sad to think that women wouldn't breastfeed solely because they have been misled to think that breastfeeding is bad for your breasts. It also makes me sad to remember that we live in a world where women's breasts have solely become the play things for men.

27 April 2009

Birth on Fifth

Incredible footage from a surveillance camera of a 33 week pregnant woman giving birth in an SUV in Fifth Avenue yesterday. She nearly made it to Mt. Sinai hospital until the baby started crowning about a block away. She went delivered one baby across from Central Park after a cavalcade of doctors and nurses came out to help her. Turns out she was pregnant with twins so they got her inside just before baby number 2 was born.

25 April 2009

Heidi Klum: on growing the 4th spawn

Heidi Klum dishes on her fourth baby with Us magazine this week. Highlights below:

Did you sense you were pregnant?
“Yeah, I kind of knew. You feel your body change and I’ve done it three times before. Then I got the proof from the doctor and it was wonderful.* Seal had the biggest smile. He said, ‘Here we go, one more time!’ Because all this time, we’ve said, ‘Okay, one more and that’s it.’ We said that after Leni and Henry. When Johan was born, I still didn’t feel like I was done. When we looked around the table, it was like one person was missing. So we’ve been, you know, having fun as a couple. And that’s how No. 4 came about. But that will be it.

*I find this interesting...why is it that when women know that they are pregnant, they insist on having a test from the doctor? Why isn't experience proof enough?

Do you like being pregnant?
“I do. It’s the most wonderful thing that your body goes through. It’s producing another human being! What a miracle. It’s never boring. Not old hat like, ‘Oh, I’ve done it three times.’ Every time is a new first time and I love it. Then the birth is just an amazing experience.”

What about losing the baby weight?“I honestly don’t think, ‘Oh, my God, when I get bigger, what am I going to do with the weight after?’ People write crazy things about me, like I put vinegar on salad leaves so I have no appetite. It’s not true! I trust my body. My stomach can stretch out to the most enormous place, then it goes back with exercise and eating right. I have good eating habits. Being a model, I had to learn and change my lifestyle. In Germany, a lot of the food that we ate wasn’t healthy. A lot of things are fried with creamy sauces. But I’ve been very healthy over the last 12, 13 years. Besides, my husband always says that I’m sexy as I am. That’s what I care most about.”

Will you return to the Victoria’s Secret Runway? “I don’t know. The birth will be very, very close to when the show is [in November]. I don’t know if I’ll be able to walk in my underwear quite that fast! We’ll see.”

Do you have help?
“We do have three nannies, two on at a time.* They are a part of our family. It’s not like the staff is in a different place and we can’t be seen together! We eat together and watch TV together.

*Of course.......

24 April 2009

Seeing embryos

I've just come upon a fascinating online exhibition from Cambridge University tracing the ways in which embryos and foetuses have been visualised through history. This is what I wrote my Master's thesis about, particularly trying to understand what it means to look at foetuses in 3D today.

Also have a look at A Short History of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology if you're keen!

Anyone out there looking to have a 3D ultrasound? Had one already?

21 April 2009

Totally Tori: dieting sucks (duh!)

Tori, seriously. You are taking over my life!

In one of her typical moments of profundity, Tori had an epiphany at the offices of Us Magazine, realising like every other woman in the developed world that 'It sucks to diet and exercise'.

My god. And she's also a raging hypocrite: "I read all the magazines -- I know how all the actresses look great weeks after having a baby, and that doesn't happen [to me].

Um, Tor? Did you forget that you lost 22lbs (10kg) 4 months after your first birth and then lost all of the baby weight by 7 months (40lbs)?

So you say there was less pressure with your second baby? "The pressure came off. The weight came off a lot quicker when I wasn't like, 'Oh, I have to follow this diet regime!' It was just easier doing it the natural way," continued Spelling.

Um, Tor? Did you forget that you stopped breastfeeding Stella 3.5 months after she was born so you could start to diet? Since when is denying your baby the boob so you can lose weight 'natural'?

For shame.

20 April 2009

Standing up is better for labour

"A review of 21 studies involving almost 4,000 women concludes there is no risk to pregnant women from standing up when they start the delivery process and it may actually be harmful to lie flat."

Duh! Midwives and homebirthers have been saying this forever. The only reason women have been encouraged to lie down with their legs up (the lithotomy position) historically is because doctors it helped early obstetricians to see women's bits. Laying down works against gravity whereas walking around, squatting and standing help move things along. If you have an epidural, obviously, you have to lie down but it also raises your risk of having a caesar.

Read more: Taking a stand

Pryor Parenthood

Hey, just found Rain Pryor's (Richard Pryor's daughter/comedienne/actress) blog about motherhood. She talks about her experiences with miscarriage, pregnancy and breastfeeding. Rain even watched her own caesar:

"I decided to look up, I could see the entire surgery in the light. I kid you not. There were my insides being taking out and moved this way and that. Lots of blood. I was in total disconnect. I knew it was me but, due to the numbing sensation I really couldn't connect. I was just laying there watching every thing as if I was in a hospital viewing booth."

Read more: Pryor Parenthood

17 April 2009

Nancy O'Dell: you make me want to hurl

I was avoiding writing about Nancy O'Dell's (co-anchor of Access Hollywood) new pregnancy tome, Full of Life Mom-to-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant, because I think in general, she warrants as little thought as possible. I keep reading articles about her press tour for the book and it has now caused me to want to rant. Since when does being a celebrity qualify you to be an author? Seriously. Just because you had a baby, doesn't mean you need to write a book about it.

16 April 2009

Octomom strikes again

Could Crazy get any crazier?

Octomom is now trying to trademark 'Octomom'. Nadya Suleman supposedly didn't like the name (fair enough) but now likes it if she is going to make money off of it. Another Houston company put in an application to trademark the name more than a month ago but Suleman's lawyer says that the company has no legal rights to the word anyway.

Read more: Suleman seeks trademark

15 April 2009

Tori, you should be ashamed of yourself.

I thought my worst nightmare was the Peekaru. I think I'll take that back and instead say that the thought of Tori Spelling as a 'bestselling author' is far more frightening. Nevertheless, NoTORIous Spelling's new book is called Mommywood and I've just read an excerpt and it ain't pretty. In what I think is supposed to be cute, funny sTORItelling about the trials and tribulations of being a celeb mum, is actually a self-indulgent, slightly appalling rant about having an ultrasound and thinking her baby's nose was too big in the 3D images:

"Inside my head I was screaming, Oh my God, does he have a huge nose? Just tell me! but I was having trouble asking it directly. I knew it was wrong to care, but I did. So I tried to put it as delicately as I could: “Does his nose look . . . normal?” The doctor nodded. “Of course, of course,” he muttered. Hmm. That still wasn’t really satisfying".

Thankfully, Tori's other half Dean called her on being shallow but Tori puts it down to having to live with unrealistic expectations as a Hollywood mum:

"Hollywood is a glittering, glamorous, superficial land of dreamers, wannabes, and stars. Mommywood takes place on the same set—the palm trees and eternal sunshine of Los Angeles."

Um no, Tor. You actually are just shallow and you are dumb enough to confirm it by putting it in print.

I love one readers review of the book on Amazon:

"What a rip-off. I wanted to know about kids, and all I learned about is that she loves to be photographed, have her kids photographed, sell images of her kids, be self-important, insult people and be in never-never land. The stuff about her mother is such old news. Pick up the phone, Tori. Call her. She shouldn't have to call your nanny. So much ego, so little substance. She said she wanted a "normal" family, and then parades her kids before the paparazzi to get attention for her tv show. Enough."

There you have it.

14 April 2009

Peekaru? Peek-a-I-don't-think-so

This is seriously the most ridiculous looking baby snuggie I've ever seen. Would you wear this?? It's called a Peekaru and the designer thought she was channeling a kangaroo pouch when she thought this hideous thing up.

Teen pregnancy: makes you fat

Is anyone else disturbed by this headline?

Teen pregnancy boosts girls' risk of getting fat

Um, last time I checked, teen girls who get pregnant have a few other things to worry about becoming obese. You know, things like trying to not drop out of school.

13 April 2009

Dress your bump in nothing at all

Because I know what you're going to be wearing in your third trimester.....the folks at San Diego's Rock 105.3 think you should proudly show everyone?

Considering most women in their third trimester have enough trouble just trying to find shoes that actually fit, I guess a bikini contest eliminates all the hassle of dressing at all.

Read more and photos: Pregnant Bikini Contest

11 April 2009

OctoMom and her brood on the tube

'OctoMom', Nadya Suleman is in the process of negotiating a reality tv series following she and her brood of 14 around as a way to pay her ever-growing bills (allegedly her formula bill is $2000 per month). Considering Crazy has already fired the free help she was generously provided with and is receiving donations on her website, the fact that she is now trying to sell herself and her children for her own poor decisions is pretty appalling. I don't know about you, but I have no interest in seeing Octo "dating, taking the kids to birthday parties, learning how to drive a 14-person van" as her lawyer has explained in defense of the reality tv bid.

Babies need to be looked after. They don't need to be on television.

Read more: Octo mom reality tv deal

07 April 2009

Homebirth and freebirth are not the same

For those of you that read this blog, you will know that homebirth in Australia is now a topic of heated discussion. With state maternity systems on the brink of collapse, overwhelmed by birthing mothers, unstaffed and underfunded, having a baby is now a political issue. Most recently, midwives have been lobbying to have a more broadly defined role (such as writing prescriptions) in order to alleviate the pressure on the country's OBs. Nevertheless, homebirth is back in the news again today particularly due to uninformed media releases announcing the women are so 'desperate' that they are having dangerous homebirths because women aren't getting treated in hospital. According to the stats cited in one Daily Telegraph report, 4 babies have died in the last 9 months because their irresponsible mothers decided to give birth at home. This statistic is intended to show that women are now using homebirth as a last resort and not as a legitimate and largely safe choice.

One of these deaths, however, was a result of a freebirth and quite sadly was the baby of Janet Fraser, founder of Joyous Birth, an online forum that initially began as a place for women to talk about traumatic experiences of birth. Over the years, the site has become increasingly 'radical' and is now known to be one of the more popular freebirthing sites. Fraser claims that the site is really just about women being in control of their births, however, if I can be honest, one of the reasons why I initially distanced myself from writing for the site was because I felt that there was an overwhelming assumption that all hospital birth is bad and that women are inevitably the victims of evil doctors. It has been reported that Fraser was giving birth at home with her partner unassisted. In fact, I recently came across an interview with Fraser from The Age which begins with her in labour with the child that did not survive.

The media has failed to differentiate between freebirth or unassisted birth (no midwife or doctor) and homebirth (a birth at home, usually with a midwife or homebirth doctor). For the most part, for low-risk births that are attended properly, homebirth has been proven to be a safe alternative to hospital birth. Freebirthing is significantly more risky (sorry, I'm a supporter but also a realist). It is essential to make this differentiation. Now that homebirth is on the precipice of being banned given that independent midwives are likely going to be denied indemnity insurance from next year, the suggestion that all women who homebirth are crazy radicals or that homebirth represents the majority of birthing women in Australia (only about 2%) is ridiculous. If anything, midwives and their ability to attend homebirths will be the saving grace of the Australian maternity system. Rather than convincing the small proportion of women who avoid a medicalised birth, why not support these women in their choices by making homebirth safe and easy?

The new 'natural' caesarean

Maybe I'm missing something but does the idea of a 'natural' caesarean sound a little ridiculous to anyone else?

Thanks to an enterprising OB, Professor Nicholas Fisk, some women in the UK are experiencing slower, more pleasant caesarean births with the lights dimmed low, the opportunity to see their baby emerging from the womb and immediate skin-to-skin contact. The idea is to make a caesar more like vaginal birth.

"It struck me that all the effort was going into changing normal childbirth but that Caesarean section was still steeped in old surgical rituals,” says Fisk. “In some cases I was horrified; the baby would be dragged out like a tumour and passed to several medical staff before the mother. It was ripe for reform.”

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a fabulous and timely intervention, but perhaps the word 'natural' is somewhat ill-placed in describing this updated version of a caesar. I'm all for women feeling comfortable and having every opportunity to bond with their babies during surgical birth but let's not kid ourselves here. Surgical birth is surgical. Vaginal birth is vaginal. While both types of birth can be joyous experiences, dim lights and a dropped surgical drape do not change the fact that too many women in the western world are having caesars. Making caesars a little more pretty and a little less scary is good in the short-term but I bristle at the idea that a happier, healthier caesar will only encourage more women to think that a caesar is preferable.

Read more: The new 'natural' caesarean

03 April 2009

NoTORIous Spelling looking a little lean

Totally Tori is back in the news again, apparently slamming anorexia allegations given her increasingly shrinking body. Only 9 months since giving birth to her second child, Tori is beating back rumours from Star magazine that claim she is only 98 pounds. Her rep says she is definitely not that thin.

Read more: Tori slams anorexic accuasations

02 April 2009

Le baby bumps and le smoking = le modern motherhood

Who would have thought pregnancy would feature in the fashion pages of the April edition of French Vogue?

In a send-up of contemporary motherhood, editor Caroline Roitfeld chose uber-thin model Lily Donaldson to wear a pregnancy bump, smoke cigarettes and lounge around in Chanel.

A response to the latest cog in the First Reponse fertility machine

As if women needed another reminder that fertility is kind of like a loaf of bread: if you leave it too long it all goes a bit mouldy and horrible.

Welcome to the latest in pharmaceutical fertility propaganda. First Response, the queen of pregnancy testing in the US and abroad, has just released the Easy Read Ovulation Kit

The purpose of the kit, according to the manufacturer is that it allows you to 'get pregnant sooner' by detecting your LH (luteinising hormone) surges or when you are ovulating. According to First Response, the new product now completes an entire 'system' devoted to reproduction. The new print ads feature all three First Response products, asking “Am I ...” followed by “fertile?” “ovulating?” and “pregnant?” to highlight each test.

Kim Hahn of Conceive magazine said, "They’re going to help a category that is underserved and increase the dialogue about reproduction and women’s fertility health". I totally disagree. This is just another reminder that women should be taking notice of their fertility and if they don't they will start to 'dry up' and only reinforce the idea that if women remain childless they are less valued as women.

On the other hand, as Karen Hammond, a gynecologist, told the NYT, the new test is not an unequivocal indication of fertility. "“If somebody 37 or older has their F.S.H. test come back normal, they’re still their age,” Ms. Hammond said. “It bothers me a bit that these older women might get a false sense of security by getting a normal reading and they’d put off their childbearing because they have a false sense of security.”

Hmm. This is pretty horrible too. False sense of secturity. In essence, she is reinforcing the same horrible claim about being fit enough for motherhood but couched in medical language. It's sort of like she's saying that 'older' women get lulled into thinking that pregnancy is always possible and then SNAP! one day your ovaries become completely useless. In fact, the packaging on the test actually says, “Are You Able to Get Pregnant?*” with an asterisk leading to miniscule type stating that the product will not really answer that question: “This test detects F.S.H. This test does not detect all fertility issues.”

Seriously, how is that supposed to make a woman feel? Are you able to get pregnant? Well, what if the answer is no. First Reponse wants to make sure that women have all of their fertility answers, yet, their own disclaimer tells women directly that the test isn't really a sure thing. What about a male fertility test? Why is it that the viability of sperm seems to be totally left out of the fertility equation? Why aren't more men running out to the chemist to test the quality of their sperm?

01 April 2009

Don't drink lagers in Sussex while pregnant

We have seen the future and it is not good:

Caroline Williams, 23 week pregnant, was ordered out of a Sussex pub after bar staff noticed she had drunk a pint of lager and her friend attempted to purchase her one more half pint. Williams said, “I was on a rare night out with some friends. I had a pint of lager and a friend offered to get me another half that was going to be my limit." Her friend was refused service and the whole group was asked to leave the pub.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says there is no evidence that a couple of units, equivalent to a pint of beer, once or twice a week will harm a baby.

Read more: Mum-to-be ordered out of pub
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