Breastfeeding in public just got a major, holy, endorsement. Pope Francis recently told mothers that they could breastfeed in the Sistine Chapel. While presiding over the baptism of 33 babies, the leader of the Catholic church said, “You mothers give your children milk and even now, if they cry because they are hungry, breastfeed them, don’t worry.” Later, during the mass, he urged the congregation to think of impoverished women struggling to feed their children.
So, what’s the big deal? Why are people getting all excited by this? I mean, it’s not like the Sistine Chapel doesn’t already have its fair share of boobs all over the place. Artwork notwithstanding, this vocal support for nursing in public by the Pope is rather significant, particularly as mothers in the U.S. are still being hassled for doing so, regardless of their legal rights. Just recently, mother Alanna Panas was kicked out of a Maryland casino for breastfeeding her infant in an empty lobby. Ocean Downs Casino security told Panas that her daughter Lilly was a “security threat,” and told her to leave, despite the fact that Panas was nowhere near the casino floor (where those under 21 are not allowed). The casino eventually reached out with a half-hearted apology, but one that certainly did not make up for the harassment Panas felt. And unfortunately, she’s not alone. Keep reading »
In the latest issue of Porter magazine, actress Emily Blunt discusses motherhood — she and her husband, John Krasinski, are the parents of 10-month-old Hazel — stating that raising children “…is such a fear-based industry.” She goes on to clarify that “there used to be one book that everyone read, now there’s How to Raise a Gluten-free Baby, How to Raise a Scientific Baby… It’s insanity! So I haven’t read anything, I’m just letting her do her own thing.”
Yes, Emily Blunt, YES! I totally agree with her that there is a culture of fear being pushed around parenting, and much if it has to do with the unrealistic expectations that are pushed on moms and dads. The idea of perfection (thanks: Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc…) in parenting is everywhere you look, causing parents to scramble to be the best in every aspect, despite living in a society that is not set up to support families in the ways that they need. Couple this notion of perfection with the idea that if you fail in any regard — nutrition, education, extra-curricular activities, etc. — your children will fail, and the fear becomes very real. Add to all of that a market that makes money off this fear and it’s a near recipe for disaster. Keep reading »
The media loves a good “mom story.” Flip through the TV or hop on a news website and there will invariably be some sort of story with a mom at the center. Whether it’s celeb-based or breaking news, moms make good media. Why? Because everyone can connect to them — whether they are one or not — and because the shaming/belittling/exploitation of women always sells, unfortunately. While occasionally there are some gems among the sludge, many mom-centric stories are all about outrage and impact, regardless of whether it’s beneficial or not.
Just days into 2015, I thought it would be helpful to offer suggestions of what I’d love to see covered when it comes to moms this year… Keep reading »
Earlier this month, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), a U.K. organization that provides national health care advice and guidance, released a report on the care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth. The report stated that low-risk women would actually be safer delivering with a midwife — either at a birth center or at home — than with a physician at a hospital.
Ever since the report came out, there has been a lot of discussion as to how it might impact birth here in the United States. In fact, this week, The New York Times published a statement from their Editorial board, asking “Are Midwives Safer Than Doctors?”, and suggesting that many women would benefit from midwifery care. Like the Times, I too hope that NICE’s report will have an impact on the care received by those who are pregnant. I should note that I have a double stake in this issue. I’m currently working on my second book, this one delving into the concept of the “Perfect Birth.” I’m curious about the way we think about, talk about, and experience birth. I’ve teamed up with Deborah Wage, a Certified Nurse Midwife currently practicing at a university hospital. Together we’re looking at the research and data already out there on birth in this country as well as gathering our own, along with the stories of those giving birth to see how it all weaves together. The stories I have heard so far that span the spectrum of birth experiences is overwhelming. The way we treat women in this country is only magnified during the birth experience, where any semblance of control and autonomy is ignored, and marginalized women are treated poorly, resulting in poor birth outcomes for themselves and their babies. Just look at the basic facts and you can’t help but understand we have a problem. The U.S. spends the most when it comes to birth in the world, despite the fact that we’re the only developed nation whose maternal mortality rates continue to rise. Clearly, there is a systemic issue that needs to change.
But my interest in this is also personal. Keep reading »
I used to watch TLC’s “Sister Wives” — a reality show about a Mormon household with one husband, four wives, and a combined 17 children =- with a mix of shame, incredulity, and, dare I say it, jealousy. While I couldn’t imagine sharing my husband like that, there was something appealing about the way the Brown family came together to support each other, living out the concept of “it takes a village,” and redefining what family means. Push aside the inherently sexist concept of religious male-centric polygamy for a second, and there is something really beautiful about a group of adults coming together to help raise a family. Keep reading »