09 May 2009
New book tell women to bond with their 'bump'
I just came across this new book, Postcards from the Bump in which the authors claim:
"Pregnant women are often advised on what to eat and how to take care of their health to nurture their developing babies. But they are rarely encouraged to get to know their unborn baby's personality. But now comes Postcards from the Bump, a guide for expectant mothers who want to bond with their babies long before they're born."
"You've got double the reason to be happy and take care of yourself because if Mommy is happy, baby is happy," Beanland says."[We suggest] going on date with your bump [baby] and kind of checking out the playground or exploring the places you're going to take your baby to once he or she gets here."
I'm sorry but this makes me insanely angry. I'm all for pregnant women having access to books that are less prescriptive (less about telling you what to do) and more about enjoying pregnancy. At the same time, however, I find it very problematic that women are encouraged or expected to think about their 'bumps' as 'babies' from the moment they conceive. As many of you would already know from having your own children, pregnancy is not always fun and games. Many women don't actually feel pregnant until they feel movement or after having an ultrasound, and even then, the idea that the thing resising in your belly will be a child one day is an extremely abstract concept and even after feeling movement, a number of women in my study told me that they still had a hard time believing that the thing moving around inside was a baby.
While I'm sure the authors of the book have nothing but good intentions, I feel like the more we focus on the hummanness of foetuses and continue to construct them as 'babies' at earlier points in pregnancy, this can lead to a slippery slope in other areas of life particularly when it comes to the rights of mothers v. the rights of foetuses (or babies, depending on what you believe). One of the reasons that abortion is so contentious, aside from the religious points of contention, has to do with the fact that as we increasingly develop more sophisticated ways in which to view foetuses with ultrasound with extremely human-like features, this has set a new precedent for understanding when foetuses are actually 'babies' or 'human'. A book like this only contributes to the fact that women should feel as though they should be bonding to their foetuses at all times and does not account for the times when pregnancy is unwanted. Besides, encouraging women to think about the baby's personality outside of the womb is also problematic considering many births do not always end in happiness. Can you imagine a woman reading this book and having a stillbirth? I think the authors give too much credit to the imprinting that takes place in the womb and not enough credit to the influences of the outside world. Babies are not 'made' in the womb, their personalities are developed through interactions with the people in the world around them.
Anyone have any thoughts? How bonded did you feel to your baby/foetus during pregnancy? Am I totally wrong?