What a whirlwind, amazing conference in Nashville! So inspirational to be among many with the same ideals, goals, and hopes for women and for midwifery. I am still catching up on sleep, deadlines, to-do lists, thank-yous, sending out FeministMidwife bags, and endless ideas for blog posts. For now, here is what I was able to stay up on over the past few weeks, with my favorites highlighted below.
Which one do you absolutely have to read? Finnish babies sleeping in cardboard boxes. No, wait: How-to guide on getting privacy while on your parent’s health insurance. Scratch that: ethically feminist porn. Hmm, but then there’s the menstruation comic, anorexia from a lesbian feminist perspective, and evidence-basis for types of birth for big babies… Read it all! It’s Sunday, folks. If I can find time to put together the list (twice now, due to technical difficulties), you can read it. I believe in you!
“…Perhaps most importantly, when a big baby is suspected, women are more likely to experience aharmful change in how their care providers see and manage labor and delivery. This leads to ahigher C-section rate and a higher rate of women inaccurately being told that labor is taking too long or the baby does not “fit.”In fact, research has consistently shown that the care provider’s perception that a baby is big is more harmful than an actual big baby by itself. In a very important study, researchers what happened to women who were suspected of having a big baby (>8 lbs 13 oz) to what happened to women who were not suspected of having a big baby—but who ended up having one (Sadeh-Mestechkin et al. 2008). The end results were astonishing. Women who were suspected of having a big baby (and actually ended up having one) had a triple in the induction rate; more than triple the C-section rate, and a quadrupling of the maternal complication rate, compared to women who were not suspected of having a big baby but who had one anyways.
Complications were most often due to C-sections and included bleeding (hemorrhage), wound infection, wound separation, fever, and need for antibiotics. There were no differences in shoulder dystocia between the 2 groups. In other words, when a care provider “suspected” a big baby (as compared to not knowing the baby was going to be big), this tripled the C-section rates and made mothers more likely to experience complications, without improving the health of babies (Sadeh-Mestechkin et al. 2008).Other researchers have found that when a first-time mom is incorrectly suspected of having a big baby, that care providers have less patience with labor and are more likely to recommend a C-section for stalled labor. In this study, researchers followed 340 first-time moms who were all induced at term. They compared the ultrasound estimate of the baby’s weight with the actual birth weight. When the ultrasound falsely said the baby was going to weigh more than 15% higher than it ended up weighing, physicians were more than twice as likely to diagnose “stalled labor” and perform a C-section for that reason (35%) than if there was no overestimation of weight (13%) (Blackwell et al. 2009b).
“…EOBs are the documents your insurance company sends out that show the basic information about anything your plan helped cover during that statement period, from prescription costs to hospital payments. For those without a health policy background, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is designed to protect an individual’s health privacy, but HIPAA rules allow EOBs to go to the “primary enrollee” of an insurance plan (a.k.a. parents, in my case) for billing purposes—as long as only necessary information is included. Different insurance companies have different interpretations of exactly what information is necessary, so EOBs vary in detail from one company to the next.Having any charges or visits related to my sexual health visible to my parents wasn’t something I was comfortable with, so I took action. I called up my insurance company one afternoon and asked them to send my EOBs directly to me. The representative handling my call was incrediblyhelpful (tip of the hat to Humana!) and immediately changed my contact information and stipulated on the account that only I would be able to see my information, unless I chose to release it to my parents. Now I can take full advantage of the benefits of health insurance (like no co-pays for birth control under the Affordable Care Act) and make healthcare decisions that are best for me without worrying about my privacy…”
“…For 75 years, Finland’s expectant mothers have been given a box by the state. It’s like a starter kit of clothes, sheets and toys that can even be used as a bed. And some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.It’s a tradition that dates back to the 1930s and it’s designed to give all children in Finland, no matter what background they’re from, an equal start in life.
The maternity package – a gift from the government – is available to all expectant mothers.
It contains bodysuits, a sleeping bag, outdoor gear, bathing products for the baby, as well as nappies, bedding and a small mattress.
With the mattress in the bottom, the box becomes a baby’s first bed. Many children, from all social backgrounds, have their first naps within the safety of the box’s four cardboard walls.
Mothers have a choice between taking the box, or a cash grant, currently set at 140 euros, but 95% opt for the box as it’s worth much more.
The tradition dates back to 1938. To begin with, the scheme was only available to families on low incomes, but that changed in 1949…”
“…Years later, I still carry these scars, but most of all, I still carry the thought patterns. If I’m upset, I’ll start thinking it’s because I’m fat; if I’m anxious or overwhelmed, I feel unable to eat, starving my feelings and taking comfort from the hunger; if I feel down, I focus on my appearance. Realizing that these thoughts are still with me has been really hard.
I now work in an academic context focusing on gender studies and am a committed feminist. I’ve done the reading and the thinking; I understand the pernicious nature of the media and advertising promoting one image of women; I don’t read women’s magazines with their excessive focus on weight and appearance. So why, when I look in the mirror, do I still focus on weight and appearance?
Eighteen months ago, having endured a relapse, I was involved in a group for women with disordered eating. Part of it was dedicated to looking at external influences on our thoughts and feelings and how these affected us. I had never felt so alien to a group as during this moment. The only feminist, the only lesbian, and the only person coming from a gender studies context, I represented an anomaly within the group. The gap was almost unbreachable. And I think unbreachable is a good term to describe how the conflict between the feminist and the anorexic in me can feel.
I feel like I should be beyond this eating disorder mindset, precisely because of my understanding of feminism and gender studies. In reality, however, it seems to present a myriad difficulties. As a feminist, I don’t prescribe to Cartesian dualism, but as an anorexic, I feel disassociated from my body. As a feminist, I scrutinize the objectification of the female body, yet through the anorexic voice I scrutinize myself as an object. As a feminist, I think that appearance does not matter, but the anorexic part of my mind continuously obsesses over my appearance. These conflicts can feel like I’m always arguing with my own mind…”
“…In a new post-2015 development agenda, we must build on the achievements of the MDGs while avoiding their shortcomings. Everyone agrees that the goals have galvanised progress to reduce poverty and discrimination, and promote education, gender equality, health and safe drinking water and sanitation.
The goal on gender equality and women’s empowerment tracked progress on school enrolment, women’s share of paid work, and women’s participation in parliament. It triggered global attention and action. It served to hold governments accountable, mobilize much-needed resources, and stimulate new laws, policies, programmes and data.
But there are glaring omissions. Noticeably absent is any reference to ending violence against women and girls. Also missing are other fundamental issues, such as women’s right to own property and the unequal division of household and care responsibilities.
By failing to address the structural causes of discrimination and violence against women and girls, progress towards equality has been stalled. Of all the MDGs, the least progress has been made on MDG5, to reduce maternal mortality. The fact that this has been the hardest goal to reach testifies to the depth and scope of gender inequality…”
New Dad Survival Guide – 8 Essential Tips – The Pregnant Chicken
“…1. If you’re going to be late coming home don’t wait until the last minute to tell her.Remember when you’d have to do chin ups and you knew you had to do 20? You’d get to 18 and think “I only have two more to go, I can make it” then some asshat comes along and says “Gimme 10 more”. How much do you like that guy? Not so much.
2. Come home and get in the house. When you get home this is not the time to chit chat with the neighbour over the fence about how it’s going with the new baby. Assume that it is always Lord of the Rings orc war in the house and get inside to relieve the day shift because your wife has probably been walking around with that baby thinking “I only have to hang in there 30 more minutes….29…..28.” (see point above).
3. Get excited about the baby. I know, I know, you love that little weeble more that anything, but most new mothers are wired with this demented sense of responsibility so even if their baby is screaming like a rabid howler monkey they don’t want to leave it. So if you go in and say something like “take a shower, I’ve missed him all day and I can’t wait to hold him” she will be more willing to go bathe, eat or generally reset to be less crazy. It’s win-win….”
New Survey Details Experiences, Problems with Hospital-Based Birth – Rachel at Our Bodies, Ourselves
“…The 2,400 women who completed the online survey were 18-45 years of age, gave birth in a U.S. hospital to a surviving single baby at some point between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, and could participate in English. The research firm Harris Interactive collected the data.
Among the findings, the number one factor driving a woman’s choice of maternity care provider and hospital was acceptance of her health insurance plan. Insurance compatibility ranked higher than recommendation by a provider, friend or family member, and higher than familiarity due to a previous birth.
Only about half of the women ever saw information that allowed them to compare the quality of potential providers and hospitals, but when they did have that information, 80 percent used it as a factor in their decision.
Pregnant women reported difficulty communicating with their providers at times — 30 percent said that at least once they had let a question go unasked because their provider seemed rushed, and 15 percent reported that their prenatal care provider “always” or “usually” used medical words they did not understand….”
Mortality among poorly educated women – Bill Gardner at The Incidental Economist
“…So why is life expectancy declining among poorly-educated white women when it is increasing among similar minority women? I don’t know and I don’t sense that the researchers in this field know either. I will remark that whereas well-educated white women are pulling away from poorly-educated white women, poorly-educated minority women are catching up. There is every reason to expect that the lack of education, unemployment, and hard persistent poverty harm poorly-educated minority women. However, minority women are still reaping the benefits of increasing access to education and employment resulting from the civil rights revolution, hence the catch-up.
My point is simple. Women are not pulling ahead. Well-educated women are pulling ahead and more power to them. However, poorly-educated US women are falling behind.
That life expectancy would decline for a large subpopulation in a developed country in the absence of war or plague is shocking. Steady improvement in life expectancy has been the norm across developed countries since the beginning of the 20th century. Poorly-educated white women may be the canaries in the coal mine of increasing US inequality. Our health and employment policies must give priority to the well-being of poorly-educated members of both genders…”
Outlawed in Pakistan – PBS Frontline