Miranda Kerr, competitive birthing, the Daily Mail and a big mirror on a stick.Posted: July 6, 2012
My attention was briefly drawn today to this article. Now, I know what you are thinking, it’s the Daily Mail, therefore it is cobblers. Yes, I agree, more of that later.
It’s yet another example of not only that newspaper’s penchant for setting women at each other’s throats but also of promoting the notion of competitive birthing, competitive motherhood and so it continues. So, Miranda Kerr says that she didn’t have an epidural because she didn’t want her baby to be affected by the drugs. Cue over 450 comments on this article from women calling her smug and annoying. Firstly, I think we should give her the benefit of the doubt, this is the Daily Mail after all and their standard of factual journalism is appalling. Secondly, I don’t believe that medically, an epidural does affect the baby (perhaps someone can tell me otherwise?). If anything, it would do so in a positive way as the mother would be more relaxed and better able (in theory) to progress through labour. The whole process of birthing is such a personal thing, every woman is different and it doesn’t matter what you write on your birth plan, when it comes down to it you are on a wing and a prayer. I don’t understand why it so often turns into a competition. Does one woman become more so because she had a longer/more painful/worse/scarier birth? Is a woman who has every drug going less brave than one who does it without anything? Why is it a competition? Is Usain Bolt less of an athlete than Martin Lel because one runs 100 metres and one runs 26.2 miles? (see what I did, shoe-horning an Olympic reference in there…)
For the record, I didn’t have any pain relief, not even gas and air. Does this make me tough as old boots? Harder than you? No. I don’t think it does. It was just my circumstance, my baby, my body, my womb and let’s face it, a 7 hour labour that did it. I went into labour planning not to have any pain relief and that’s what happened. But, the truth is, I hit a point in my labour when, had someone walked into my house with a shotgun, I would have begged them to kill me there and then just to end the pain. Had I been in hospital, had it gone on for double that length of time, I would without doubt have had all the drugs. It is tremendously painful. You just do what you do to get through it, ideally with baby and yourself in one piece. This competitive nonsense is infuriating. Labour takes you to a different place in your head, it is an all-consuming, mind altering experience. So, to be honest, to hell with what anyone thinks is right or wrong at the time. A great example of this loss of being quite ‘with it’ was my total lack of care who saw what during my labour. I categorically said that I didn’t want my husband at the business end. Then I found myself in the full throes of labour, absolutely off the planet in pain and with an implement underneath me (you know those things that they use to put under a car and check for explosives? A big mirror on a stick?). I could not have cared any less. Somebody told me that to let your husband see it all happen is like letting him see his favourite pub burn down. Care factor?? ZERO!
And so to the post-birth stuff. The Daily Mail features articles every day on who’s pregnant, who’s not, who’s about to drop, who’s fighting the post-baby bulge, who’s ‘snapped back’. Competition! Give me strength. Good old Miranda appears in this often as she did ‘snap back’ and looks spectacular. Her baby is the same age as mine. She looks quite different to me. But, she did beforehand. She’s a Victoria Secret model. I worked in travel. Do I give a monkeys? NO! Good on her.
The pressure on women to get their figure back is immense. Not something you need when your entire existence is turned on its arse. Your relationship, money, confidence, body, friendships, family, image, look…the whole package. The media are full of women who have bodies like that of a teenage boy about 20 minutes after giving birth. Then you’ll see the odd one who has a bit of a tum a couple of months in and it’s like she’s cured cancer or found the missing link. “Oh, she’s a hero, she’s a real woman”. For god’s sake, no she’s not, she’s not making a statement, she’s just built differently.
I was pretty lucky, thanks to 10 months of breastfeeding (which is another competitive mothering minefield in itself) and about a 1000 miles walked in quite a hilly hometown (just because she wouldn’t stop crying), I felt pretty ok with my post-baby body. In fact, going from sitting at a desk stuffing my face with Pret sandwiches to being up and busy 24/7 made a difference in itself, baby or no baby. Some people struggle, some find it a doddle. I was in the middle somewhere. As long as you are healthy and feel good then I think it’s up to you. All of this is superficial. What matters at that time is your baby, you, the Daddy, your friends, your family.
The ladies that I look up to are those that I met through my NCT classes. 8 of us, real women, no Victoria’s Secret models. We have all, at some point, sobbed in front of each other, sat in a room together with boobs out (breastfeeding, before you pervs think anything else), we have laughed and cried together. We have all had our disasters and triumphs. Every one of the babies arrived in a different way, we all have our story. We have all completely cocked up parenting at some point. Our relationships have gone through the mill and our bodies too. These are the people who are important. The real mums.
(For the record, today I retired as a reader of the Daily Mail’s showbiz* pages. I’m fed up of competitive mothering. Today was my last read. Thanks for the gossip DM, but enough’s enough.)
*I never read the ‘news’ part, they just did good showbiz. The news part of this rag is a whole new topic in itself…..