Why are supporters of natural childbirth still being shamed ?
On August 12th this year, the day after my fourth grandchild was born, The Times ran a story on their front page with the headline 'Midwives back down on natural childbirth'.
The sub heading was, 'current policy makes women feel like failures.'
I'm sorry but I'm not buying that. The only person who can make you feel like a failure is you. We feel however we feel based on our own thoughts.
Let's say I had a baby by natural childbirth and you had a forceps delivery, is it rational that you should blame me for your feelings of failure?
No, any feelings of failure you may have are nothing to do with me, they are stories you tell yourself in your own head.
Let's spin it around, would it be rational of me to feel guilty that I had a natural birth and you had forceps?
And in any case, how can anyone, including the writer of the Times sub heading, make a statement as sweeping as:
'Current policy makes women feel like failures'?
What policy? What women? Is that all women? Where is your evidence? Does anyone have solid statistics based evidence to back up that claim or is it based on anecdotal evidence which, in other fields is usually discounted as being unscientific.
So how has it happened that an organisation supporting natural childbirth is being blamed for 'making women feel like failures'?
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) had been campaigning since 2005 to see a rise in the number of women giving birth 'normally'. That is, without Caesarean, induction, instruments or epidural.
(When I refer to a 'normal' birth from here on, I mean, a birth without any of the above interventions.)
The RCM's original campaign was called the "Normal Birth Campaign" but three years ago, that campaign was changed to the "Better Births Initiative".
Reading the Times article, you could be forgiven for thinking the Better Births Initiative had only just happened when in fact, this 'news' is actually three years old.
It goes without saying, medical intervention in childbirth is, for some women, an absolute necessity for the safety of themselves and their babies.
That is not up for dispute here - I am not against medical intervention in childbirth when it is genuinely needed.
What I do question is this - women who use induction and Caesarean by choice for convenience when there is no compelling medical reason to prevent them from experiencing natural childbirth. And more to the point, to stop the baby from experiencing natural childbirth.
Have we become so narcissistic now that we don't care to consider the impact of our decisions on others involved?
And if you aren't considering your baby's right to natural childbirth and his needs as he enters this world, how are you going to cope with his intense needs once he is here?
According to the Times article, only four in ten women give birth normally now as opposed to six in ten 30 years ago.
Natural childbirth versus a birth with some kind of intervention is an extremely emotive subject and it seems that their campaign for 'normal' births (which ended three years ago) has upset some people to the point where the RCM now 'backing down'.
Er - they 'backed down' three years ago. Why is this on the front page of the Times now and written as if it only just happened?
On page two of the Times, the article carries an analysis section in which the writer admits that 'The RCM may be right that no careful reading of its stance could justify pursuit of normal birth at any cost.'..
This is an important point and I wonder how many people who are now criticizing the RCM and playing the blame game have actually read its stance on the subject.
But an even more important point in the analysis is where it continues, '...yet it is hardly surprising that those who did not pay such close attention could conclude that the goal was to increase the number of normal births.'
There is a huge difference in what is contained in a policy and how much close attention the readers of that policy are paying to it.
Who is responsible if I don't read the Highway Code properly and I don't pay close attention to what road signs mean? If I kill someone because I didn't read a stop sign properly, who will end up in prison? It won't be the policy makers or the writers of the Highway Code.
If I fail my driving theory test, can I blame the writer of the manual for my lack of close enough attention to get it right?
The shaming of natural childbirth advocates has to stop - it has gone on for too long.
When I had my first baby 37 years ago in Canada, all this shaming and blaming nonsense was going on then. The natural childbirth movement was being painted as extreme and a bit 'dippy hippy'. I had to fight to get a natural birth and was very aware that I was seen by my doctor as a rebel against the system.
When I say I had to fight to get a natural birth, I mean I had to deflect a whole list of standard procedures that I did not want applied to me or my baby. It was a case of, if you don't tell us beforehand that you don't want these things, they are just going to be done as routine.
So maybe that is why women like me started to shun hospital births completely in order to avoid the fight not to be shaved, not to be given enemas, not to be offered drugs while extremely vulnerable, not to have have bright lights and noise, not to have fetal monitors attached intra-vaginally, not to be kept on our backs, not have interventions too soon, not to have the cord cut the until it stopped pulsating, not to have the baby washed, not to wrap baby up so he couldn't feel skin to skin contact, not to whisk him away to be weighed and measured before he'd been put to the breast and cuddled quietly under dimmed lights.
This is how it was in 1980 - we had to fight for those things and it was tiresome being looked at like some kind of weird alternative hippy type just for wanting a non-violent birth for your child.
Surely it would have been more sensible and safe for the medical establishment to listen to what the advocates of natural childbirth were saying and willingly co-operate so we had the best of both worlds.
We could have felt confident going into hospital knowing we would be left to labour and give birth however we wanted while being close to all the right equipment should things go wrong.
But no, hospitals, at the time, were places where those of us wanting to give natural childbirth a really good go had to be on our guard against unnecessary intervention at a time when we were at our most vulnerable.
I know of many women back then who were driven away from hospitals by the arrogant attitudes rife in the male dominated field of obstetrics at the time and who chose to have their second babies at home.
For every story of a death or injury caused by failure to use medical intervention during a birth there are stories of babies who have died or been severely injured during hospital births where instruments or scalpels have been used.
So why focus on the horrors of natural childbirth when it goes wrong? Both natural childbirth and medically assisted births have their horror stories. And both have success stories.
Should we have been blaming hospital policies in the 80s for driving pro-natural childbirth women away because we didn't feel safe around people wielding forceps?
Because make no mistake - forceps can and do injure babies. Women do die from complications during and after Caesareans. Babies are traumatised by bright lights and noise.
So the RCM, I believe, is quite right in campaigning for better births. What is so wrong with midwives trying to raise awareness regarding the benefits of natural childbirth and the dangers of medical intervention during childbirth when they are used unnecessarily?
Don't you, as a mother-to-be, want all the facts? Don't you want what is best for your baby's physical and emotional health? Because if you don't, you shouldn't be having a baby.
I still can't figure out why the Times printed this out of date 'story' three years after the RCM changed their campaign. Deeper inside the paper on page 27, there was more on this story under the title 'Born Free'.
The writer acknowledges that 'since the 60s, advocates of 'natural' childbirth have been pitted against defenders of medical intervention.'
Quite why they have placed the word natural in quote marks I do not know. Why not plain and simple, natural childbirth? If I were to write The Times is a national 'news' paper in the UK, what would I be inferring?
It is these kinds of thinly veiled prickles that have made the fight against the routine medicalisation of childbirth so long and tiring.
We shouldn't have had to fight this fight and it shouldn't still be going on.
Yes there are some compelling reasons around the risk of death or injury why some women can't give birth without intervention.
However, there are equally compelling reasons why healthy women, with straightforward pregnancies should try to avoid intervention and I sincerely hope the RCM will never be bullied into staying quiet about those reasons.
If you want the facts behind this 'story', you will find them on the Royal College of Midwives website.
I have nothing to do with the RCM - I have written this because I feel passionate about the subject and always have done. And it appeared in the paper the day after my fourth grandson was born, by emergency Caesarean that saved his life and possibly that of my daughter-in-law.
Some things cannot be planned for, such as baby deciding to try and leapt out feet first without anyone realising until the crucial moment.
Hospitals definitely have their place but so does natural childbirth and it is time we stopped shaming women who want to try and have one.
And it is time we stopped blaming pro-natural childbirth people for making women who don't manage to achieve natural childbirth 'feel like failures' - our thoughts are our own choice.
What has your experience with natural childbirth or medically assisted birth been? Please leave a comment at the very end of this post to let me know what your thoughts on natural childbirth, or otherwise, are.
Stour Woods - a place to be alone but not lonely.
Modern society can be a noisy, hostile, competitive place.
Narcissism seems to be on the rise 'out there' and at times, the collective effect can be too much.
There is a place, almost on my doorstep, where insects, birds, trees and wild flowers provide the perfect antidote to the demands
of daily life.
What are the three most intimate things you can do with another person? I’ll give you a clue - they all begin with S.
Any ideas what they are?
Ok, so the first one is obvious.
- Sex - this is probably the most intimate thing you will ever do with another human being. Although in my opinion, it does come a close second to number two on the list.
- Sleep - this is an extremely intimate thing to do with another person because it does take a massive amount of trust to be completely unconscious for eight hours in the presence of someone else.
So what is the third one?
In my opinion, doing this thing makes us pretty vulnerable and requires a lots of trust in the other people involved.
It is...ta da...
Blog Block - yeah, I just made that up.
If it's a thing, I have it. Not just with my own but with just about every blog in the world.
Am I alone with my blog block? Certainly feels that way.
I have no desire to read. I have no desire to write.
The only thing I have any desire for at the moment is to look at beautiful, natural things and get high on colour.
There is no problem with painting, making, taking pictures and staring at the sky when I have time to myself, I just don't want to write.
Blog block is becoming social media block too.
Time spent on social media unsettles me because it feels pointless and means I am not immersed in colour and everything coming to life now that it's March.
So I compromised and made this picture to put on my blog because it's how I feel right now. The words I put on it are all I can say about life as I deal with my aging family.
It is the only thing that comforts me since my much loved 96 year old Aunty left us back in February and my own parents are in the winter of their lives.
Emotions well up frequently at the moment and all I can say to myself is:
To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.
A time to be born, a time to die...
And its the time to die bit that is getting to me as I do all the things I have to do right now.
I know I am not alone in this. There are so many of us 'boomers' watching the same decline of the elderly in our families.
Blog block is the least of my worries I guess.
For the time being, I will be back here with a picture or two when the mood takes me and if it doesn't, well the tumble weed will be tumbling right through here until i get my blog mojo back.
But what if it doesn't come back?
Has blog block ever hit you and if so, what did you do?
Caring is surely one of the most natural things for a human being to do, unless your early years were so bad that you became a psychopath.
So why are we no longer caring for our babies and our elderly parents ourselves?
Why are we no longer caring for our own flesh and blood but instead, are paying others to do it for us?
Recently, my own parents needed caring for 24/7 during a health crisis.
My sister and I knew the crisis would probably pass, and it did.
However, during the seven weeks we spent taking turns living at their house, I lost count of the number of people who said to me:
“Gosh, you are good, I couldn't do that.”
Say what? You couldn't look after your own parents if they needed you?
The Apprentice is possibly my favourite TV show ever - but for all the wrong reasons.
The Apprentice is a show I have been watching for many years.
It is my weekly dose of Sugar. Alan Sugar is the only form of sugar I can take and not fall asleep half an hour later.
Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post about The Apprentice in which I was pretty scathing about the candidates.
I opened that post with these words:
'The Apprentice is back on our screens and already I am in despair over the glaring discrepancy between the candidates’ ludicrous self-puffery and their actual abilities.'
I went on to warn that if parents of tiny children insist on telling little Oscar how clever he is every single time he does the most mundane things, he will grow up to be like the most annoying candidates on the Apprentice.
Everywhere in life we encounter people who believe they can get by in life simply by banging on about how great they are at everything without actually being obviously great at anything.
The Apprentice still appears, in 2016, to be populated with people who don't understand the difference between being brilliant and telling people they are brilliant.
They big themselves up before a task, only to look completely baffled (and hurt!) in the board room when Lord Sugar bigs up their total incompetence, in simple tasks they have failed at by a million miles.
When I see the baffled looks, I think of all the witless parents I have seen praising their kids to high heaven for being able to draw a crappy 'circle' on a piece of paper.
If the 'circle' actually looks like a lopsided chicken, it is probably best that you don't start yelling, "clever boy! You made a circle!"
He may end up on the Apprentice one day believing that lopsided chickens are suitable substitutes for actual circles.
And he will look crestfallen when Lord Sugar ridicules his 'circle' and fires him.
It's much kinder to say, "well I can see you really tried with that and if you were going for a lopsided chicken, it's brilliant! But if you were thinking 'circle', little Jimmy, it's a bit shit. Try again and try harder."
We need to be careful and realistic with our praise of children's achievements otherwise it becomes meaningless.
As I said in my post from 2014, the Apprentice is, in my opinion, one of the most entertaining but disturbing shows on TV today.
Since I wrote it, I have watched last year's show and am halfway through the 2016 one and, my opinion has not changed at all.
To quote from my last article:
'Every year we see a bunch of youngsters bigging themselves up to bursting point. They all say the same stuff – “I’m passionate, I’m the best there is, I could sell ice to Eskimos, I’m like a young Lord Sugar” etc etc etc.'
And then they totally screw up the simplest of tasks.
It is deeply disturbing to me that out of all the candidates who applied to go on the show, these ones were chosen as the best of the bunch. Is this the kind of business talent our country has to offer?
Are these people Lord Sugar's best hope for turning his £250,000 investment into £250,000000? I hope not.
I hope that the producers, or whoever chooses the candidates, are selecting them based on how entertaining they will be rather than how astute they are in business.
There is rarely any substance to back up the grand claims these candidates make about themselves and I am still firmly behind my belief that people like this come from the "wow! Well done, clever you!" generation who fail to understand that what grandma has always said about your abilities may not be true.
Grandmas are biased.
I am very careful in my praise for my grandchildren, I make sure it is honest and encouraging. I don't tell them their 'circle' is brilliant if it looks like a lopsided chicken.
It is effort and tenacity that I praise and when the circle loses its chicken-like appearance, then I start to praise that too. We need our children to grow and persevere so that the self-belief they take into the world is realistic.
Last week, the Apprentice was slightly more encouraging to watch.
We saw 25 year old Frances Bishop lead Team Nebula to a spectacular victory in Episode 7, the boat show task.
However, the rare but glorious financial success achieved by Team Nebula on that task was counterbalanced by the spectacular fail brought home by Team Titan, lead by Karthick Nagesan.
Karthick, is now famous for an extremely disturbing quote about his abilities as a project manager. During the boat show task autopsy, prior to his unprecedented firing, before the final boardroom showdown, he tried to impress Lord Sugar with this:
“I even project managed the conception of my baby boy. I know the exact hotel room in the exact country on the exact day he was conceived. How many parents can give the gift of that information to their kids?”
Say what? At some point in his life, I can see Karthick's son with his fingers in his ears singing la la la la la. No-one wants that information from their parents. No-one.
So, thus far through the Apprentice 2016, I stand by the advice I gave parents about praise back in 2014.
Encourage your children by all means. Be supportive but don’t throw praise around like cheap confetti. Save the ‘wow well dones’ for genuine achievements to help them learn the difference between mediocrity and excellence and to give them something to aspire to.
If mummy jumps up and down and says “good boy! Clever boy! Look daddy, Oscar made a dot on the paper! Clever boy!”, then you aren’t going to develop your mark-making skills beyond the dot because the dot you did was obviously the best thing ever.
That is where, I believe, self-delusion begins, unless you have sensible parents or teachers who save the really lavish praise for achievements of substance.
Do you fancy yourself as a business partner to Lord Sugar?
Applications for the Apprentice 2017 are now open.
You can apply here.
And I beg you - if you have any genuine business acumen, creativity and common sense, please apply and make the Apprentice 2017 a year when we in the UK can say, wow, these people are our future.
Next year, I don't want to sit and cringe at the dreadful 'viral' video ideas that supposedly clever and creative young people are coming up with.
I want to feel confident that there are young people out there with common sense and abilities that could make this country prosperous (or failing that, just Lord Sugar).
Keep up with this year's programme here on Facebook.
What is your view on the Apprentice (either lead by Lord Sugar in the UK or President Trump in the US!)
Is there a version of the Apprentice in your country - what is it like?
Remembrance Day (Veteran's Day in the US I believe), is an emotional day for millions of people around the world.
There are many people who say we should forget the wars. They say we shouldn't keep looking back.
And maybe they are right, maybe we shouldn't dwell on past wars.
But one thing we must never forget is the untold misery, along with the devastation that wars have caused to ordinary people who lost their precious family members.
Three days ago, I was going through a small box of things with my mum and had a stark reminder that the pain of loss never really goes away.
Well, what do Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Jay Haughton have in common?
They got off their backsides, wrote books for children, had them published and therefore, earned the title of author.
Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl both sold millions of books that were loved by children the world over, whilst being heavily criticised by adults.
Both Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl are dead now but each has left a huge body of work that children still love to read. The work of both is still heavily criticised by the literati snobs and intelligentsia who seem to believe they know better than the billions of children who have enjoyed their books.
And Jay Haughton, author of children’s book Happy As Larry, has done what so many wannabe authors fail to do, he has followed through with his ideas and made them a reality. And really, good for him - he is head and shoulders above the rest of us who just talk about doing it.
Of course, there will be an army of people out there, ready to do to Jay, what was done to Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and many other controversial authors before and since.
False copyright infringement claims are a real problem for YouTubers, it seems.
How do I know this? Well I recently had false copyright infringement claims made against me and when I looked into it, I found thousands of people practically spitting blood about how copyright infringement claims are ruining their YouTube lives.
This post is about my fight with the online entity that tried to claim copyright on my work and, about the eventual outcome.