Baby News

Let Girls Be Girls; Labour; Day Care

Friday 3rd of May 2013  |  Category: Baby News  |  Written by: Leoarna Mathias

Letting girls be girls; understanding labour; and keeping quality at the heart of day care

A media storm has swirled around the head of Gwyneth Paltrow over the last few days. There she was, last week, looking radiant, and conducting herself with charm and aplomb on Graham Norton's chat show; this week, it's quite a different matter. We've had these kinds of media debates before, most notably when Primark withdrew a padded bikini from its range after similar adverse media attention, in 2011. That these products even make it on to the shelves probably says something about Western society that we're not keen to admit; that our young women and girls are subject to a barrage of over-sexualised media content and messages.

To me, it almost seems hypocritical of the media as a whole to be using the female form as a way of selling copy at the newspaper stand, to then criticise others who find themselves in similar territory. Mumsnet have been fighting a campaign on this front since 2010 and the Girl Guiding movement recently took up the cause by signing up to the 'No More Page 3' campaign. Young women themselves recognise what they are being subjected to, and are also, luckily, possessed of the intelligence to resist the most blatant use of such sexualised imagery to make the global marketplace go round. As parents, we do have a responsibility to think about the television our children see, the magazines they access, even the toys we buy, and consider whether we are truly enabling our little girls to be just that; little girls.

Dream Labours?

Mothers are frequently herded into groups and pitted against each other; breast feeders versus bottle feeders, natural birth-ers versus the 'too posh to push', you get the picture. I don't think these kinds of divisions are particularly helpful, as they belie the much greater levels of complexity that are part and parcel of every woman's decision making. So I was pleased to see that a new research project from Centre for Better Births at Liverpool Women's Hospital is taking a much more scientific look at predictors for the way in which individual women's labours might progress. It aims to establish whether it is possible to predict with a much greater degree of accuracy, from pre-labour factors, whether a woman is able to deliver naturally without medical intervention.

a girl at the seaside

We all of us know a mum who had 'dream labours', popping into the pool in the front room, breathing from the diaphragm and Bob's your new baby. And we also all know a mum who, whatever her heart was set on, ended up signing those emergency consent forms and seeing their child arrive over the top of a green sheet. During both my pregnancies I had high hopes of making it into the birthing pool at the hospital for delivery. I was thwarted both times, not only by circumstance (read: other women using them) but also because, both times, it became apparent that my labours were not progress in a way that would have enabled me to remain in the water to deliver. Despite being nine centimetres dilated with my second baby by the time I got the hospital, and drunk on TENS vibrations, I do remember feeling a laugh of irony pass over me as I realised that yet again, someone had got there before me. Chances are though, if this research had been completed prior to my pregnancies, that my eventual need of assistance in delivering our children would have been more predictable, and I might have been better prepared to adjust my vision of how it was going to go. I look forward to the research conclusions with great interest. And if you're currently writing your birth plan, take a look at our handy guide.

Caring for Day Care

And finally this week, and to return to a subject close to my heart, I noted this week that Mumsnet (two mentions in one blog!) and Netmums have joined in the debate around the ratios of adults to children in our day care settings, backing the various campaigns across the sector that are aiming to prevent Liz Truss proposals becoming law. There is a very significant level of feeling within both the early years and teaching professions about what they see as the undermining of quality care for the sake of trying to make the money go a bit further. Here on we've offered you some clear advice on finding a nursery or a childminder that is good enough to meet the needs of your child. If you can, do take the time to read more about why the sector is so animated in its response to Liz Truss' proposals, and if you feel sufficiently moved to act you might also sign the e-petition on rewinding ratios begun by the Pre-school Learning Alliance.

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