What The Fuck?

This article I present with almost no comment, because… WTF?! Pertinent quotes below:

“The Lancet said mothers-to-be should not be able to opt for [home births] if they put their babies at risk – under UK law women can override medical advice…

The editorial was written following the publication of a study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology….

The relevance of the US study to the UK was questioned by medical bodies as midwives in the NHS are said to have better training in resuscitating babies in home birth situations.

The Lancet said: “Women have the right to chose how and where to give birth, but they do not have the right to put their baby at risk.””

Except… we do, actually. It’s not illegal to drink, smoke or take drugs during pregnancy. Not that I’d be surprised if it became illegal in the near future. Anyway, I leave you with the last paragraph of the article, a quote from Mary Newburn from the National Childbirth Trust:

“Pregnant women have the same rights as other adults.”

You wouldn’t think so, sometimes, would you?

Advertisements

Entirely Unsurprising

Hey, guess what? Pregnant women are doing it wrong again! I’ve transcribed the interview between John Humphrys and Mike Kelly that forms part of this article, because I actually couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I would say “enjoy”, but, well… you probably won’t.

JH: Eating for two is dangerous. Women have been for generations – forever perhaps – that that’s what they should do when they’re pregnant, but National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence says they shouldn’t. Professor Mike Kelly is the institute’s public heath director, good morning to you. Um, why not?

MK: Because if they do, they’re likely to put on more weight than they need to and um produce an obese, er, an obese pregnancy, and that’s very bad for them and very bad for their baby.

JH: But haven’t you got to eat a bit more if there’s another little person inside you munching away as well?

MK: In the third trimester, in the last three months of pregnancy, the woman should be eating about 200 calories a day extra, that amounts to about two pieces of toast and a milky drink, that’s all.

JH: I see. I have this image of pregnant women, who goodness knows have enough problems – some of them anyway, not all of course – but thinking, the one thing I *can* do is a little bit of comfort eating – is it really going to hurt them that much?

MK: Yes it is, the – um. Well, first off, around about 40% of women of childbearing age are already overweight or obese and presenting at our –

JH: [interrupting] – Are they 40% of –
MK: – That’s –
JH: [incredulously] – of women of childbearing age are *obese*?

MK: Overweight and obese.

JH: [skeptically] Mmm, yeah, there is a big difference, isn’t there.

MK: Overweight is a body mass index over 25, and obese over 30.

JH: But I mean, can we put it into very simple terms – if you look at somebody who is, as you say, overweight, do you say “oh my word, that’s a fat person”?

MK: Not necessarily.

JH: Right. So therefore aren’t we getting this a bit out of proportion?

MK: No, not at all. Because it’s um, a direct, um, line, if you like, a ratio, as with each pound that’s put on, the risks increase.

JH: [surprised] Really?

MK: Yes, indeed. And the risks that we need to get people to understand range from miscarriage, subsequently, pre-eclampsia, thromboembolism, gestational diabetes – and that’s very important because the diabetes often continues post-pregnancy, so the woman is becoming diabetic for life potentially. During delivery more pain relief is required, slower wound healing, potential miscarriage, foetal death. The risks are enormous. This is not a minor minor problem, this is a major difficulty. It also of course adds cost because if a woman has to have a caesarian as a consequence of having a larger baby, that’s an additional around about £2000 per delivery. [Emphasis mine, because… wow.]

JH: But I come back to this difference between being obese and overweight. I mean, *clearly*, if somebody is grotesquely overweight, then there are going to be – we can all see that, that’s blindingly obvious, but aren’t we in danger of *scaring* women into thinking “oh my god, I can’t have that extra piece of toast or bar of chocolate or something because I’m gonna put my baby or me at risk”?

MK: What we should be doing is explaining that the amount of extra calories that are required, they’re very small amount and they’re only in the last three months of pregnancy, and that’s why this business of eating for two has to be knocked on the head. What we need to do is make clear that a healthy diet – this is the diet that you or I needs to stay in reasonable shape based on starchy foods, avoiding sugary drinks, drinking plenty of water, avoiding fatty food, all that sort of thing, that’s a healthy diet and that’s what a pregnant woman should eat, that’s what a woman before she gets pregnant should eat and that’s what she should eat afterwards. It’s the standard advice on diet and nutrition that we’ve been giving for forty or thir- forty years or so. Nothing in that regard has changed. The myth about eating for two is one that needs to be knocked on the head, as is the idea that they need to do the same when they’re breasfeeding – they *don’t* – a small amount of extra calories during breastfeeding, the natural bodily processes will take care of it. We need to alert health professionals as much as anybody that this is a significant problem.

JH: Professor Kelly, thank you very much indeed.

I’m a skeptical soul, but I’m also running a temperature, so I’m not about to do any sums for you. Not even to prove how awesome I am. I have, however, found the guidance from NICE, which contained the statistics that Mike Kelly was quoting:

“At the start of pregnancy, 15.6% of women in England are obese (Heslehurst et al. 2010).”

“About half of women of childbearing age are either overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m²) or obese (BMI greater than or equal to 30 kg/m²) (The NHS Information Centre 2008).”

Personally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that women who are “obese” have a higher risk of having a caesarian delivery in part because their doctors think they ought to have one because they’re “obese”. Not because they actually needed one.


In Which I Have A Fucked-Off Ramble

For a little while now, I’ve found my feminist focus shifting. After a while, I felt like I’d got a permanent sense of deja vu with the big blogs and their interminable blogwars and even more interminable US-centrism. So I stopped reading most of them. (I’m also quite sensitive to blog layouts, for some reason, and it’s no coincidence that the ones that I stopped reading first were the ones I found difficult to look at. Womanist Musings is a good example of this, as are Pam’s House Blend and Pandagon.)

To fill in the gap, I headed down under. Hoyden About Town is a long-term favourite of mine, although they too did some very strange things with their layout recently. Luckily for me, they give the option of reading HAT in the old, simple blog format, or I’d’ve had to stop reading them, too. Anyway, I also started following Blue Milk. And Spilt Milk. And so, despite not being a parent, I kind of got suckered into reading about feminist parenting. I love it. I think of it as gentle feminism, the kind that’s part of a nice chat about your day. I also would like to have kids one day – I don’t mind how. (My parents were seriously considering fostering before Mum unexpectedly got pregnant with my brother when I was 12. If pregnancy doesn’t happen for me, I’d do that. At least, I think I would.) So it’s nice to read about people who are just a bit ahead of me in life. And because I spent my teenage years in a house full of nappies and lego, and being woken up at 2am for a surprise bonus cuddle, I can already relate to a lot of it.

So, it’s been nice. Gentle. Easy reading, if you like. And I do like – that’s why I read them, and that’s why I write for Teaspoon of Sugar, the whole point of which is to be nice and gentle and easy.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the blogwars came to Blue Milk! Well, not quite – she’s steering clear of the threads of doom, and I don’t blame her one little bit. I thought I’d seen all of the blogwars, but this kids-in-public-spaces meltdown must have passed me by last time it rolled round.

It just seems ridiculous to me. Ridiculous and unnecessary. Arguing about whether kids should be in bars or watching late-night films is just daft (age ratings and the discretion of the management: it turns out we have them). I hate those kinds of discussions anyway. They seem no different to the arguments I’ve had with men about street harassment, who try to “win” by pulling ever more stupid arguments out their arses – you know, the “but what if a woman was walking down the road in nipple tassels and a tutu, *then* could I stare at her?” arguments. For the kids debate, you get “but what if a parent took their kid to a BDSM club, *then* could I say that kids don’t belong in public?”.

To the people who make those arguments, I say now: fuck you all.

Children are people too – and by that, I don’t mean that children are defective adults, just like I am not a defective white person, or straight person, or man. I mean that children are people, and therefore not animals, not dolls, not burdens. People. Some children can’t communicate verbally. Well, and nor can some adults. Some children display behaviours inappropriate to the situation they are in. So do some adults. Part of living in society is understanding that not everybody is just like you, and not everybody can behave the way you want them to. This is basic stuff.

But even more basic is this: I didn’t sign up to feminism to have other feminists police my moral standards, whether that’s to do with what kind of period control I use, or where I take my imaginary child. Well, ok, I didn’t sign up to feminism at all – there’s no membership card, no joining fee, no contract. Which is just as well, because right now I feel like asking for my money back. Reproductive rights are a feminist issue. Not just birth control, not just abortions, not even just parental leave issues, but also real children. The children that a lot of the feminists in the thread’o’doom don’t ever want to see, hear or interact with in any way. Thanks a lot, ladies. I’m really feeling that supportive sisterhood I’ve heard so much about.

In more hopeful news, I see that Tigtog from HAT and Chally from Zero At The Bone are now moderating the thread’o’doom, which might mean a bit less shit gets hurled. Even so, I think I’ll be sticking to the nice, quiet, parenting blogs for a while.


The Exquisite Irony Is Not Lost On Me

The problem with having a hotmail account is, simply put, MSN. Usually it makes me angry; today I just rolled my eyes so hard I fear I may have lost an eyeball.

Screenshot of MSN main site, which has a link entitled "why do women hate their bodies?" next to another link, "how to avoid gaining weight on holiday"

Description: Picture shows part of a screen shot of MSN’s uk website from Tuesday 27th July 2010. A picture of a racially ambiguous woman with brown eyes and straight brown hair fills most of the screen. She is shown from the shoulders up, wearing a white strappy top (I assume) and a white headband, using a hair straightener. To the right is a headline: “Look slimmer instantly” with the tagline “2o ways to look like you’ve lost weight – without diet or exercise“. Underneath are two links, in this order:

  • Why do women hate their bodies?
  • How to avoid gaining weight on holiday

Oh, MSN. You’re practically a bingo card all by yourself.

(Incidentally, I clicked on the link, so that you didn’t have to go looking for it, and it turns out that the dude who wrote the opinion piece – there go my eyes again! – has begun to see where the problem might lie, which kind of makes it worse:

Marketers tell men to be fit and strong. They tell women to be beautiful. And when the essence of beauty is an unhealthily skinny supermodel whose wrinkles have been airbrushed away, that’s an impossible ask.

So my advice – and I know it’s easy for me to say – is to ignore them.

Why, thank you, Captain Obvious. Now, moving on: why do smokers hate their lungs? 870 words later, I have concluded that smokers should just pack in the smoking! Because it’s just that simple!)


This Morning I…

Wake up at 7am. Get up at 7:30 ish, once radio 4 has finished telling me what’s going on in the world. Drink a cup of tea and be ready to go supermarket shopping by 8, because J hired a car this weekend and I’m damned if I’ll let him take it back before we’ve used it for something helpful. And on the short drive to the shop I feel:

overheated; nauseous; faint; angry; tired; shaky; tearful.

Why? Because I’ve been awake for over an hour and haven’t eaten.*

This happens every time I don’t eat within half an hour of waking, and I’ve got so used to it that I forget this isn’t what most people experience. I’ve been avoiding going to see a doctor about my eating habits, because a now not-so-secret fear of mine is that I’ll end up with an eating disorder and not be able to enjoy food ever again. But I think I might have reached a point where seeing a doctor might be helpful.


*Dear anybody who ever stays in my house,

If I’m surprised that you don’t immediately raid my fridge, freezer and cupboards in search of breakfast foods when you wake up, this is why. Oh – and this is why I give guests the living room (also the kitchen) to sleep in. Just in case they get peckish.

xxx r.


I Can Access Printer

I live in the tiniest flat in the world. Seriously. I’m not very good with house measurements – I find it difficult to visualise, which sometimes leads to me lying down flat on the floor to work out whether the room is wider than 5’6″ – but for the internet, I tried. Our flat is indeed wider than 5’6″. But not by much. My bedroom (which I share with J, remember) is 7′ by 10′. The whole entire flat is probably 20′ by 30′.

This is fine, really. Well, mostly. Well, sometimes. Look, the problem is that my bedroom is surrounded by other rooms, effectively. On one side, we’re right up against the bedroom wall of the flat next door. And to my neighbours, I’d like to say: it’s ok, we weren’t throwing a toddler at the wall the other night. I’m sorry. That thud you may have heard, and that yelp of pain, that was me. I was trying to steal back the covers because J likes to try to gnaw them to shreds in the night, and then because I failed, I flounced over and hit my knee on the wall. One of the walls is an outside wall. We have a window and everything, although due to some fluke of nature, it doesn’t open at the moment. We share one wall with our kitchen, and the last with the bathroom. I’m hoping my neighbours didn’t hear me thudding against their wall, because according to the maintainance manual, that wall is fairly heavily sound- and fire-proofed.

But the “internal” walls – they’re not soundproofed. Not even a little bit. So from our room, you can hear the shower go. You can, if you’re really lucky, hear Flatmate singing in the shower. You can hear anything that involves the kitchen sink or the dishwasher, because they’re right up against the shared wall.

All of this is just a prelude to say that last night, J was trying to “fix” the printer. There was nothing wrong with the printer until he tried to make it wireless, and it clearly just didn’t want to lose the comfort of being connected to my laptop by a cable. So the printer basically went “well, go on then, MAKE ME PRINT!” And then it sulked. And after trying all the options there are in every combination until half past 11, J sulked too. So I demanded that we just go to bed and ignore the sulky printer.

No sooner had we fought for the bathroom, tripped over each others’ discarded books and clambered over the mountain of my knitting to get into bed, than we heard Flatmate cleaning the kitchen. At midnight. I don’t know what posessed him. Only two nights ago, I asked him not to run the dishwasher after 11. Only one night ago, I sent J out at 11:45 to ask Flatmate not to clean the kitchen because we could hear him. Did he forget? Again? Did he think that the annoyance of him doing the cleaning at midnight was less than the annoyance of him not doing the cleaning and then running away for the weekend? Or was he just being really passive-agressive? I have no idea. We could hear things clanking, and him singing, and because I was so tired, I didn’t even get angry, I just got the giggles.

Eventually I fell asleep – only to wake up at 6 in the morning with J draping himself over me and headbutting my neck. I don’t know why he thinks this is endearing.

Me: J, what are you doing? It’s really early!

J: Noooooooo, we have to get up! It’s getting-up time! I heard an alarm!

Me: [sits up to look at clock] No you didn’t. It’s 6 in the morning. We don’t have to be up til 8. You don’t start work til 11. Stop it.

J: Oh.

And he rolled over and fell back to sleep. Thanks, J. To add insult to injury, when we actually did get up, J had no knowledge of what he’d done. So that was fun. And as he was heading out the door to go to work, he said “oh, I sent you an email this morning with that thing I needed printing. Can you go to uni and do it?”

No. No I could not. Instead, I went to the market and bought many jars of pickle, and some limes, and an aubergine, and Moroccan mint tea, and smoked mackerel. And then I came back home and uninstalled the printer. And then I reinstalled the printer, and this time I was really kind and understanding and let it keep its USB umbillical cord, because it clearly just wasn’t ready to be its own independent device. And now the printer works. So there. I may not be able to get a full nights’ sleep ever, and I may not be able to make Flatmate learn that the middle of the night is not an appropriate time to do housework. But I can access printer.


Helpful Rachel Is Helpful

Last night, I was chatting to Flatmate about life. Work, routine, boredom – you know the drill. He’s got a job that he can do, and do well, without actually ever needing to think. So he’s got a hell of a lot of untapped brain-space, and is in consequence going out of his tiny little mind with boredom.

Because I’m helpful that way, I decided unsolicited suggestions were the order of the day. Plus, you know, I like to think that if I had the balance of money/free time that he does, I’d be doing So! Much! Stuff!! Really, this is probably a lie, like the way new mothers think that they’re totally going to be able to do everything perfectly, and also their new offspring will only shit rainbows. And then they discover what infant poo smells and feels like. The equivalent of this will be me starting to work full time again around this time next year, and then going “I am a work zombie. Aaaaaaaaaah. No art galleries for me until I find an antidote, or possibly gnaw somebody’s head off!”

Anyway, anyway. So we were looking through the helpful leaflets I keep getting (this is a character trait of my mother. It’s only a matter of time before we become one being) and guess what? I’ve found sod all that Flatmate is interested in, which is a shame, but what I have found is… something that I want to do! For free! Hooray!

So today (and every Friday until 27 August) I can walk 15 minutes up the road, learn how to paint with watercolours, be sociable for 3 hours, and not pay anything for the privilege! If I remember, I shall blog again to tell the internet just how well I’ve done at pretending to be a sociable person!