Pr*n: just say no

A friend of mine remarked on the Book of Farce the other day, that since liking a particular page, she now gets ads for pr*n* in her feed. This sparked me finally into action about something that’s been irritating me for quite some time now:

stop calling your stuff pr*n because pr*n hurts women and it’s not cute.

We have normalised pr*n and the harm it does to women and children by incorporating it into our lifestyles and lexicons as if it was a meaningless term. What you really mean is that you

something, not that you want it whipped, raped, enslaved, drugged up, suicidal or driven to despair. Back in the Dark Ages before pr*n was quite as successful as it currently is, we began this horrible trend so I apologise to you all for that. My generation called stuff ______ pr*n and then the next generation started calling things pimped, tricked and so on.

Why is Pimp My Ride ok? You want your car sold to men for rape? Or you’re fine with the idea of selling something for rape from which you financially benefit?

Pimp My Pram? As if paedophiles haven’t made that into a potentially revolting notion?

Trick My Truck? What the fuck?

Just like rape is rape and not when you get beaten in a game, pr*n is pr*n and it cannot be applied any longer to food, the English language, clothes, music or anything else into which we have uncritically let it dangle its tendrils.

If you haven’t yet read Nine Deuce’s admirable series on pr*n, you need to and bear this in mind: if your brain is reacting now with thoughts that I must be one of those meanies that Sex Positive Feminists don’t like. Trust me, the last thing I am is sex negative, I’m single, remember?

“And here comes the ergo: moral objections to morally objectionable things do not of necessity result from prudishness. And hence another ergo: arguing that radical feminists are opposed to pr*n and prostitution out of some form of prudishness is a straw man extraordinaire. I mean, really, how many radical feminist fundamentalist Christians do you know? Prudes are proud of their continence, prudes love it when people take notice of the fact that they never do anything fun, prudes revel in abstemiousness for its own sake, and their reasoning usually rests either on nothing or on a prideful adherence to the anachronistic and untenable prescriptions for living laid down by dudes who lived during a time when people had never even heard of burritos or synthesizers. Prudes, basically, are dumbasses — and usually arrogant ones at that. So don’t call me one or I’ll take away your birthday.”

My objection to our free marketing of pr*n and its subsidiaries is not prudish, any more than people protesting child slavery in chocolate manufacturing, are big ole meanies who want to deny children a feed and a roof. Doing the work of advertisers for free isn’t “edgy” it’s being duped in the most profound way by a disgusting international industry that harms people for entertainment. I’m just telling you, we have let our boundaries be over run by this foulness and I’m saying no to it in my space. I won’t do it, I won’t joke about it, I won’t pimp my blog. Will you?

* You’re looking at my reduction of That Word so it doesn’t net me a heap of hits from the people who are looking for it, ok?

Posted in feminism | 3 Comments

Happy New year 2014

My New Year wish for you is that you may lose your head before your footing.
May you find love in yourself and others.
May you sparkle like stars and roll like ocean.
May you breathe easy and dancer easier.
May you have enough sorrow to know joy when it lands on you. May you open your arms and your mind.
May you spread love in buttery layers wherever you go and find completion and wholeness in your own infinite beauty.
May you leave 2014 in better condition than you found it leaving only footprints and the whisper of your heart’s goodness as a sign of your presence.
With love.

If you haven’t joined me on Facebook yet, you can find me at FraserBlogs Janet Fraser

Posted in don't label me!, just for fun | 1 Comment

Homebirth in rural NT – against all odds.

This newly birthed woman has shared her story of trying to find a midwife to support her in birthing at home. In the current climate where the rhetoric tells us that the federal government expanded women’s choices, we can see we’re being badly duped. This woman was strong and determined and birthed at home. She really wanted a midwife but our governments don’t care to provide those in the hope that we will be scared and go to hospital.

They didn’t scare her. Congratulations on your new babe too!

I was attempting to have a hb for my first baby in rural NT (2.5 hours from Roy. Darwin Hospital).
I found out about the birthing options that were supported by the “system”:
- birth in hospital
- birth at hospital birth centre – after obstetric clearance (including all routine tests)
- birth with midwives from community homebirth centre at a location I have to arrange in Darwin (hotel, rental apartment) or at birthcentre (ob clearance requ.)

Antenatal care would be provided by local clinic midwife together with hb midwife in Darwin.

I signed up with the homebirth midwives and have been assigned a midwife (there were no options, they just tell you :”This is your mw”).

I was not convinced by the (health department run) service they offered, didnt really click with the mw and also wasnt convinced that a birth in a rental apartment would be the hb experience I was looking for (on top of this it is a very $$$ option, as they expect you to come to Darwin 2 weeks prior to EDD).

Desperately I was trying to work out how to arrange a “proper” hb, that is, a birth “AT HOME”.

Neither Community HB midwives nor local clinic mw did/ could support this (department policies). There were mws and student mws in NT who were wanting to support me, but couldnt as they risk losing their registration or getting in serious trouble with their university (There was still mental and emotional support from one lovely doula/ student mw which I highly appreciated). There are no IMs in NT.
I thought about flying in a mw, but the uncertainty of the actual due date and the cost associated with this ruled out this option.

Slowly making peace with not having the option of a hb with a midwife, I started to consider an unassisted hb.
I spoke to a couple of “real hb” midwives from interstate to discuss the option of having an unassisted hb and get a professional independent expert view on this. In the end, it was my first birth, I DO live far away from the hospital, and I would have loved expert support from a midwife.

Meanwhile, at 36 weeks, my hb mw from Darwin advised me that she has to go overseas and I will be assigned another mw.
The new mw then was uncomfortable with me birthing in any private set up (as I didnt travel to Darwin often enough to “get to know each other” and cut out the option of a hb in Darwin, and (at 38+ weeks) advised I can still have her support/ attendance at a birth in hospital or at the hospital attached birth centre. Starting to feel desperate, I probably would have considered the birth centre, but I didn’t want to see an OB or have scans (I didn’t have scans during my pregnancy, glucose tests, etc).

At that point I was over it and decided to prepare an unassisted hb. After all, I was well informed, healthy, fit throughout the pregnancy, felt great, and had a good gut feeling about it all. I did not want to go to the hospital, or the birthcentre with mws I didn’t really know. I surely did not appreciate being pushed around by the system like that, and my already strong concern about birthing anywhere near the medical system was once again reinforced.

Preparing mentally and emotionally for the arrival of my baby. The med system became worried, as I did not consent to any of their offered options. Repeatedly I was being made aware of the risks and irresponsibility of a homebirth, especially so far away from the hospital.
(Still the system rather took the risk of me birthing rural without a midwife rather than “allowing” me mw support…? )

Well, my precious baby boy was born 10 days ago, at home, into the arms of his loving father. I had support of a great friend, who is a nurse and hb mum of 5. And we did it!!!!!!

It was a 16 hour intense labour with a 6 hours second stage (we checked babys heart rate for reassurance). I had a great birth, and I’m very happy with my choices.
I would have loved a good hb mw at my birth, I believe the birth would have been easier. I also think that the pressure from the “system” was at the back of my mind (What if it didnt work out? What if I had to be evacuated by the system I was rebelling against? What if I chose wrong against all “expert” advice and there was something wrong with the baby?) and slowed down labor and made it more difficult for me to surrender.

I am happy and I loved birthing at home, I loved being at home after the birth, I loved every bit of it.
The local mw visited me at home for the first week after the birth, which I appreciated.

But I am a bit sad that the system/ society treats and expecting mother like a criminal, not considering her wishes, intuition, choices.

On the other hand, we made a point as of course our hb is the current local talk, and got a lot of people thinking. I believe babies should be born at home. I wish local indigenous people could keep their traditions alive and birth their babies at home as well.

Love and light x

Posted in careproviders, consumers' rights, midwives, midwifery, reproductive justice, who homebirths? | 5 Comments

The system that cried wolf or the emperor’s clothes are lost in transit. Permanently.

I am frequently bemused by the use of lies to support obstetrics when the truth is so easy to discover. Why are we so comfortable accepting at inquests that all the babies who die outside of hospitals would have lived in hospitals when hospitals are where more than 99% of our stillbirths take place? If hospitals had 100% survival rates of women and babies, they might have a leg to stand on. Why do we so readily accept the word of obstetricians that these babies would live in hospitals, when obstetricians routinely claim that almost every baby will die, in hospital, if you don’t follow their instructions? Why is it that when around 1 in 200 (Or 1 in 300, or 1 in 135, or 1 in …. We really don’t know and can’t agree on how to define stillbirth internationally.) babies die, thus proving obstetricians’ predictions of the apparent mass extinction of the human species wrong, we still believe their claims without question? Why is it considered inconceivable that women might consent before interventions and that only crazy selfish women believe they should have such a basic right in birth?

I find all this stuff very confusing based, as it is, in cognitive dissonance so powerful that nothing seems to break through it. It is pretty simple however that the equation we are sold that babies die because homebirth, is a total fabrication. To whit, and simply to give one year close to my heart:

Of babies born at home in 2009,99.8% were liveborn.

[Of babies born in hospitals] The perinatal death rate was 9.8 per 1,000 births in 2009, which comprised fetal and neonatal death rates of 7.8 per 1,000 births and 3.0 per 1,000 live births respectively.
What confuses me most however is that facts about this stuff are all readily available and yet journalists refuse to engage with them in any way and just go on repeating the same tired old lies about mortality in birth outside of hospitals.

Here’s another fact for you: there is a far higher likelihood that women will die during birth in hospitals than at home. It is also true that maternal death is under reported and under recorded in Australia. Shouldn’t we all be factoring that into our plans for a birth place? Maybe hospitals don’t tell women this easily researched fact? Do mothers for children not matter? Why aren’t journalists interested in this when I tell them about it? When I explain that we have no adequate sentinel reporting unlike other countries, that there is no real oversight body for maternal death?

And another fact: if your baby is sadly in the 6 or so who die every day in hospitals, you will be very very unlikely to achieve an inquest. The loss of not one, but two babies, in a Melbourne hospital, caused by the hospital, doesn’t need an inquest. Hundreds of women and babies affected, some deaths, countless injuries, barely rates a mention in the papers. Does not the double standard appear to anyone? I think I can safely say that many women simply feel if a searchlight is shone on so many births outside of hospital, which amounts to fewer than 1% in Australia, then why cannot a searchlight be shone where the vast majority of babies are born? Of course to apply the same rules to hospitals as homebirth would cause difficulty since doctors would be prevented from practicing immediately, their homes would be searched, their computers and telephones removed, police interviews over hours for everyone in the room (this could be 20 people in some hospitals), and their names would be made public along with any other deaths they attended so the system may need a little modifying?

Why are deaths in institutional settings, where we are told every life sustaining piece of equipment and personnel is available, the least likely to be publicly scrutinised? Most women, if questioned will say, after all, that they give birth in hospitals because they perceive them to be safer due to that very equipment. If we accept for a moment, the rancid illogicality that birthing outside of hospital is the most dangerous thing ever, then why are we so perturbed, offended and shocked by those deaths? Don’t we expect them? Why are we so resolutely facing away from the deaths which we are repeatedly told are all preventable when they occur outside of hospital, when they occur inside hospitals? Isn’t it more concerning that so many deaths occur in the presence of obstetricians and midwives in hospitals? Shouldn’t we be pulling each and every one of those deaths apart in an effort to see how our institutions are faring when a loss occurs? This is a remarkably unusual case and it is fascinating how little reportage there is around it when compared with deaths outside of hospital where causes are printed before postmortems are even performed. My baby was repeatedly declared dead by media due to heart attack before she was even cut, cut forcibly and without my consent, as is usual in homebirth stillbirths which attract the state’s attention. (Not all do. Isn’t that interesting too?)

Is it not possible that loss in pregnancy is normal in the human species and can be expected at every gestation? Given that miscarriage is very common, and stillbirth fairly common, and unchanged in several generations, maybe we can all start to see that using stillbirth as an excuse to condemn women’s birthing choices is a politically motivated action?

Those who speak out about the brutality women experience in hospitals are called fools, selfish unnatural bitches, murderers yet those inflicting the brutality are allowed to dodge their responsibility while pointing to a supposed body count due to normal physiological birth which doesn’t exist. Expecting to have human rights because you are human does not equate to not caring about whether your baby is alive or dead at the end of pregnancy. The cynical, misogynist lie of this is allowing obstetricians to pull the curtain over the damage they do to us and continuing the mythical supremacy of hospital as the safe place to birth. How much longer are we prepared to listen to lies like these?

More vital reading:

The mothers fighting back against birth intervention

What are human rights in childbirth?

Australia’s Mothers and Babies, 2009 and every other year you can find online.

Improving Birth

Healing after a traumatic birth

The assault on normal birth: The OB disinformation campaign

Mainstreaming midwives: the politics of change

“A further barrier to midwifery care has to do with the negative publicity that occurs almost every time there is a bad outcome at a home birth. Deaths in the hospital of baby or mother are rarely publicized because the hospital constitutes the cultural standard for safety, and physicians tend to protect their own from public view. Thus a death at home rings loud cultural bells, sounding the culturally ingrained message that home birth is an irresponsible choice for mothers, and that home birth midwives must be far less competent than hospital-based practitioners.”

Posted in bullshit, careproviders, consumers, consumers' rights, homebirth campaign, reproductive justice, surgical monopoly | 4 Comments

Think before you click

A little while ago on the internet, I was blithely clicking away on Facecrack when a pic zoomed up in my feed of a nearly middle aged man, poorly dressed, teeth missing, looking down at heel and holding a sign saying, roughly, “I want to find my mum, her name is XXX and I was born XX/XX/XXXX in Such and Such a Place. Please help!” Seeing him and my gut reaction to his visual appearance and thus my immediate (class ridden) impression of his circumstances, I clicked share. I clicked share on a few of those.

Then a friend posted under one of these pics and asked me if I had considered the woman involved. I stopped and thought, crikey, no other than a vague moment, I had responded to this fella, and the other men and women, because their immediate story spoke to me. I had, (you know, those vague moments when a human brain condenses a shit load of information into one second and you react rather than respond?) this instant feeling of “Well I guess they tried all the other ways to find their mums, exhausted those possibilities, probably live places legislation doesn’t allow more fact finding and now they’ve turned to Facecrack.” But was I really thinking?

My friend pointed out to me, very politely too given the subject matter, that I had completely ignored the right of a now middle aged woman to privacy. What if that woman is on Facecrack and suddenly someone in her family or friendship circle, said, “Hey, what a coincidence, isn’t that your name?” All the years of keeping a secret or simply keeping her life private as is her right, gone in an instant because a bunch of us clicked without thinking it through.

It got me to thinking about the times I stood outside parliament house in my early 20s holding right to choose literature because the appalling Fred Nile was yet again threatening the right of women to own their own bodies. Women in their 70s, 80s and even 90s came up to us young women, barely out in the world, weeping to tell us of the forced adoptions they’d endured because abortion was not available. Now some of these pics on Facecrack show us the face of that total lack of access to abortion for women in years gone by, some show women who birthed babies then passed them on and went back to their lives, they show a range of experiences I can’t possible put into a paragraph but which I must think on and respond rather than react.

I have a number of friends who conceived babies in their youth in countries where they could not access an abortion, and some of them would certainly have done that. Others would have raised their child had there been any social support and less stigma to being a sole parent considered a slut for having a child Out Of Wedlock – like all my babies since I’ve never married. In any case, each of those women has the right to privacy around that experience. She has the right to share her story in her own time or not at all. I know for some women the shame will still be present because it was so forcefully punched into them when they signed those babies over to other families.

And where does this leave the hapless Facecrack posters? Well that, my friends, seems to me to be part of our legacy of not allowing women free choice to decide their own destinies, of our communities’ social sanction against women who birth babies young and outside of marriage, of each individual story, many of which are shrouded in grief despite the years which have passed. We have done those women and those now adult children a terrible disservice. We have seen enough in the last few years around the (scant) acknowledgement of forced adoptions in this country to know that it is not unlikely those people were wanted by their mothers but the state intervened to punish young sluts having already failed to provide readily available contraception and access to abortion for those times a woman wishes to end a pregnancy.

I feel for the pain of those adult children. I feel for their mothers. I also feel that outing your mother on Facecrack might not be the best means to an end to finding a woman who hasn’t come forward and found you first. There is no easy answer to this except to remind me that women’s bodies are their own and the state must not interfere in the rights of women to control their own fertility which is, heaven knows, a fickle beast at best. And in the light of Fred Nile again attacking the rights of women to access abortion, I think it all the more important we put pressure on our politicians to remove abortion from Crime Acts across Australia because abortion is a right, a medical procedure and no one else’s goddam business but that of the woman involved.

If our society didn’t suck arse at supporting women and women’s access to healthcare and social support as needed, those people desperately searching for women who birthed them would not be desperately seeking. The folk who blithely recommend adoption as an easy out and a way to avoid bringing up unplanned children, should spend some time contemplating the pain of those forced to birth and those forced to grow up without the woman who birthed them. And they should get the hell out of other women’s bodies and decisions.

Posted in consumers' rights, feminism | 1 Comment

I am sorry for your loss.

Imagine this: you are being given an opportunity. When a woman tells you her child died, now is your chance to make a difference. A lot of the time, a woman whose child has died is ignored, sometimes shamed, sometimes punished for her loss but now you have a chance to make a difference. All you need to say is, “I am sorry for your loss.”. You don’t need to ask how, why, where her child died, you just need to express the sorrow you can imagine you’d feel if your child died, or a child close to you died, or someone else you love died and you missed them a lot.

She understands you find it confronting that she said her child died. She finds it confronting that her child died too and a lot more so than you who have only to look from the outside in this brief moment. But in this brief moment you can make a difference to that woman’s life by being kind and by acknowledging her loss. You don’t need to say, “Good thing you have other children!” if you think she does because children like snowflakes are unique unto themselves and like your partner wouldn’t be replaced or your loss healed by simply meeting another partner, neither is this woman’s loss healed by the existence now, or in the future, of other children. She lost that child, that irreplaceable being, that drop of water in the ocean of humanity who is never to be seen again.

You don’t need to offer a comparison. No, it is not the same as your experience of loss and that’s ok. It’s a moment about this woman and her dead child, at this time and all you need to do is be present in it with her. For a moment.

You don’t need to say silent because you are scared of saying the “wrong” thing. Authenticity and kindness are never wrong. But if you need a prompt, remember this from me and simply say: I am sorry for your loss. Because it might be the one time she hears that in a day, a week, a month or a year and you will be offering something kind like a little beacon in a world where we offer lip service to grief instead of acknowledging the howling gale of it in our lives and bodies.

Posted in Uncategorised | 8 Comments

But why beauty, at all?

But why beauty at all?
I see lots of images of women’s bodies with suggestions for reframing the changes that age and childbearing can make to our bodies like stretchmarks described as tiger stripes. Each one suggests that these are beautiful. Sometimes it’s headed ‘real women’ as if there are fake ones among us.

What puzzles me though is why we need to hitch our star to the beauty wagon?

If being looked at and judged is problematic, why simply shift the parameters of looking and judging?

Why do we need to be beautiful? Why take a label that reduces us to what we look like and apply it more widely? Why can’t we do away with needing to be anything and just be? Why can’t we stop worrying about beauty and accept the body we’re in, love the feel of the body next to us whatever the number of limbs or their mobility, revel in the capacity of human bodies to breathe, eat, digest, eliminate and procreate?

Aren’t all those things the real miracles of bodies, not what the outside looks like?

Posted in feminism | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Some Great Australians also happen to breastfeed, David

Not very discreet. Tsk tsk.

This is not about an opinion. This is about a law which says discrimination against women engaged in feeding little humans is wrong. How can this possibly be so contentious unless maybe, just maybe, it’s really not about that at all?

Can you imagine a week long raging national discussion, including newspaper polls, about fathering and how it is publicly performed? Can you imagine a week of pundits and folk of the broken spell check club (Hint: discrete. It does not mean what you think it means.) tossing around jokes about how much flesh men should reasonably show at public events? If you can’t imagine those then you can be pretty sure that a conversation about “the personal choice” to publicly provide normal nourishment to babies and children isn’t really about breastfeeding at all. It’s about the desire to control women’s performances as political entities in a western culture which is beyond obsessed with how women dispose of their own bodies. Plus there are a lot of people out here with boundary issues.

Western culture is based around the assigning of characteristics to women and men, called gender which is a performance based way of expressing to other people what we think we are, what we want them to think we are and hopefully letting them know what we think they are too. Bluntly, sheilas are sheilas and cobbers are cobbers and ne’er the twain shall meet. We police these boundaries an awful lot, possibly more than other English speaking places like, well, England, for instance.We could hypothesise that this is linked to the inherent instability of living in a (former) colony. In a colony, where the very surrounds of our society are moveable, impenetrable (ha!), dangerous and likely to swallow us up (please look up all those 19th century stories involving Lost Children in the bush.) it can become all the more vital to cling on to what we think we know: the identities we’ve attached to our genitals since those genitals are unlikely to alter despite this rough terrain. I sometimes suspect that we cottoned on to this early and have developed our public discourse into the blood letting sport it has become as a result. I have also watched the pornographying of the world in a remarkably short span of time since the early 90s and how that supports and promotes the belief system that women as public property can be discussed, defined, analysed, carved up and particularly importantly: never. right. no. matter. what.

When I read (reading seems rather too dignified for some of the worst baying and its attendant spelling) (Yes, I have issues with poor spelling and I have the freedom of speech to say so, so shut up.) the bizarre self righteous ramblings of those desperate to preserve something they call “freedom of speech” because a privileged white cobber earning a mere mill per day had his attention drawn to how he is encouraging those who break the law around anti discrimination policies, I find it the same sad, disconnected rambling attached to all the issues of the day. And when it first started, I found myself rather taken aback having only recently reconsidered Kochie in the wake of some fine stuff he wrote about asylum seekers and how poorly they are treated in Australia. You can read it here.

He also wrote this rather sweet piece personalising those who’ve come to Australia to live from other places. Nice. I’m going to borrow a little of it.

Perhaps it would be nice if it read like this:

The reality is that refugees mothers contribute a hell of a lot to our country, both economically and culturally. Not only is accepting them the compassionate thing to do, and the right thing to do. It’s the Australian thing to do. We have a great country built on multiculturalism acceptance of others. Why is everyone scared of a few hundred desperate people women running for their lives breastfeeding?

Let’s stop looking at refugees women as numbers objects. Lets start looking at refugees women as real people.

I so agree, David. Let’s stop looking at people as numbers and see them for who they really are. (Although the numbers around breastfeeding tell their own story about how poorly we support women in that too.) I could tell some utterly stand out stories about the women I know both personally and via community networks who spend many hours of their lives caring for not only their own babes and children but other women and their children too. Just quickly:

milk donors
milk donation facilitators
breastfeeding peer support
communities of women who breastfeed and share support informally
Women who donate milk to babies whose mothers have died or been incapacitated, or who are physically unable at this time to produce milk.
Women who staff, without pay, hotlines offering advice and support for breastfeeding.
Women who run groups like Human Milk 4 Human Babies.
Women who collect and drive milk to and from others at their own expense.
Women who express milk into a cup in the car to make sure a baby won’t go without.
Women who feed babies they didn’t birth to help families in crisis, give a mother a break, provide sustenance to a babe whose mother’s milk producing is compromised.

It is endless.

It is as endless as the stream of milk humanity is capable of providing to our young. And all those things women do for free. Because it’s needed. Because it’s right. And because our society can pay seemingly endless amounts of money to men who play sport (or host day time telly) but we place precisely no value whatsoever on the work of women who support other women. And even less on the feeding of the human infant.

And as boringly ordinary as the capacity of the mammal to produce milk might be, for some reason we still need laws to preserve the right of the human infant to take in sustenance wherever that mother/baby dyad might find themselves. So when someone in a public position, who earns a great deal of money and embodies a great deal of privilege makes comments as ignorant and damaging as those made by Kochie last week, it really really does matter and it really really isn’t just about an opinion. We are all entitled to opinions but we are not entitled to spout damaging nonsense which harms people. It does actual harm to actual people, not numbers, when we try to fashion the lives of others to our own prejudices. And discouraging women from breastfeeding when their baby needs it impacts supply leading to what we hear so often, “I ran out of milk.” We don’t run out of milk – rare physical issues or other crises aside – we fail to support the breastfeeding relationship adequately for it is a 24 hour a day contract and not to be timetabled. Oddly like babies and children.

I would hope that given the capacity of the Koch mind to open beyond the myths around asylum seekers, that the Koch mind would also realise criticising mothering, especially aspects of mothering with legal protection because of this kind of criticism, is of doubtful propriety and apologise. A really actual apology. A real “Jeepers, what was I thinking, I screwed up, I apologise unequivocally, here’s a donation of a day’s pay to the nearest women’s refuge.” kinda apology. Given that earning capacity and continued tv contracts seem to depend upon stirring up the beloved Kontroversy(!!!!) surely to have Kochie say, “Actually we’ve got it all wrong and breastfeeding is just normal.” would score more than the normal knee jerk dull railing about modesty, mummies and muslin. And I would really like to one day see a world where women’s bodies and actions are not considered fodder for entertainment because trying to fit into that iron maiden of classy and discreet laydeedom is like living in the midst of a lot of invisible electric fences. You know they’re there but you never know quite when they’re going to zap you when you think you’re minding your own business, at the pool, seeing that your baby has enough to eat.

Posted in breastfeeding, parenting | Tagged | 11 Comments

Petitioning for our human rights

Tanja Kahl has recently constructed a petition about the human rights abuses in Australian maternity hospitals. I urge you to read and consider signing.

In her own words, this is how the petition came about:

I guess my first birth experience in March 2011 at a private hospital near Melbourne where I was coerced into agreeing to one intervention which led to the typical cascade of interventions and which subsequently ended in a dis-empowering and traumatic forceps delivery which caused me to suffer from PTSD, is not very different to so many other first mums’ birth experience in this country.

I’m not so angry any longer about the way they completely disregarded my choice of a normal physiological birth, how they openly displayed my genitals to a whole congregation of students and doctors alike or how the OB “birth raped” me in the end – what makes me still angry these days is how they took away those precious moments between mum and baby straight after birth which they can never give back to me neither to my first born daughter.

Her sister was very lucky – she was born last year at home in a peaceful environment with the support of two very caring and supportive independent midwives to whom we are forever grateful.

I have written my petition to the Australian Parliament and the Health Minister on behalf of all women in this country who have been abused in one of Australia’s hospital labour wards, on behalf of all women who are going to give birth in Australia and the generations after us who all have a right to choose how, where and with whom they give birth!

Now is the time to unite and hopefully in the wake of the two great documentaries “face of birth” and “freedom for birth” we can get enough public support to bring on change.

You can see and sign the petition here.

Please sign my petition and join me in asking our maternity policy makers to put mums and their babies in front of the profits of large healthcare corporations and the obstetric industry. The extremely high intervention rates in Australia of low-risk births as confirmed by a recent study in NSW supports the need for an independent parliamentary review into maternity care policy. Let us ask the Australian Parliament to reverse the over-medicalisation of birth and to protect the choices and human rights of all women in pregnancy, labour and childbirth!
A maternity care model where women are denied their right to privacy, physical autonomy and informed consent and which encourages very high intervention rates in low-risk births of 85% in private and 65% in public maternity hospitals is clearly not reflecting women-centered, safe and high-quality care as the government states on their maternity health website.
Many new mothers are feeling deeply disappointed, cheated and even violated after they have been processed by the “baby production line” in one of Australia’s hospital labour wards. Research has concluded that 1.5-9% of those new mums are suffering post-traumatic stress as a direct result of the treatment they received during labour and the birth of their babies.
It is my belief that it is every woman’s basic human right to choose where, with whom and how she gives birth!
If we do not speak up now and resign to current government and hospital maternity policy dictating to us how, where and with whom we birth our babies – we, our daughters, granddaughters and generations after them may forever lose our “freedom for birth”.

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Dear Mary

Births, Deaths and Marriages

Sydney, NSW, 2000

Dear Mary,

as per your recent application to register a birth in the state of New South Wales.

I note receipt of your letter dated 26 December ????. Unfortunately BDM is unable to issue your requested certificate until you comply with the following pursuant to the Act in relation to registration of a birth in NSW:

1. ‘A stable’ is not a verifiable address. The alternative provided appears to read ‘under a date palm’ (?) and is likewise unverifiable. At the very least a street name and lot number is required.

2. I note that the father’s name is listed as ‘God’. Under the Act, parents are required to provide both first name and surname. These are usually the same as the husband’s name?

2a. Likewise ‘of Nazareth’ is not considered a suitable surname under NSW law. The alternative names you have provided require verification. A birth certificate plus documents providing evidence of a registered name change, a wedding certificate, current passport and drivers’ license will be sufficient. In answer to your question, we can only issue the certificate in one name so please choose whether it’s to be Mary, Miriam, Maryam or Theotokos. Titles are not usually allowed under the current legislation so we cannot support you in the use of Saint Mary, The Virgin Mary, Mother of God (isn’t he the father of the child? We’re confused.) or any of the alternatives.

3. Possible suitable witnesses to a birth can include registered doctors, midwives or paramedical staff such as ambulance officers. Statutory declarations from royalty arriving post-birth are not acceptable.

3a. Likewise, the statutory declarations signed The Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury, unless they were actually present at the birth, cannot be accepted.

3b. This department does not accept photographic nor painted images as proof of birth. Not even when painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

4. Claims of angels delivering messages to third parties, however fearful, cannot be accepted as proof of pregnancy. A blood test or ultrasound signed and dated by your doctor would be acceptable.

5. Please indicate more clearly the number of siblings. ‘The whole world’ is not recognised by our computer.

I look forward to being of further assistance to you. Merry Christmas.

Posted in homebirth campaign, just for fun | Tagged , , | 3 Comments