Monthly Archives: August 2011

the devious commercialisation of public health

I have been quite surprised before, but now I’m pregnant again, it struck me once more: what is it with Bounty, a ‘parenting club’, and the NHS?

The folders and information you are given when you are pregnant by the midwives and in the hospital are from Bounty, and I remember well how when r. was born the bounty lady just came in my room with the authority  of a midwife or doctor and gave me a bag full of stuff such as samples of disposable nappies, laundry powder, wipes, but also important documents related to getting child tax credits. I found this collusion quite perplexing, and the intrusion of this woman uncomfortable. She offered to take pictures of r., and did it, but it was all a bit strange for me, I did not really understand if it was a public or private thing …especially because I am not from the UK, and those first few days after birth, with the worry and anxiety of those first days as r. was born tiny and I could not manage to breastfeed, my milk was coming in and hormones were flowing in turmoil, and sleep deprivation made everything more hazy.

Now, again  I faced this quite tight weaving of comercial interests with public healthcare. Again the dutiful Bounty folder, and on my first scan, I was given a Bounty bag full of stuff and was told by the receptionist of the hospital that I had to fill a form. I looked and looked and the only form I could find was the Bounty form to give my details to Bounty, and thus, to different companies. I looked at the contents of the bag and found disposable nappies, laundry powder, etc – luckily not formula milk!- but these were things I did not want. So I went and asked the receptionist which form did she meant, thinking it would be something official, since I ‘had’ to fill it in. No, she explained, it was the Bounty form. When I said I did not want to fill it in, she looked at me sourly and told me curtly to give back the bag then. I found this outrageous, why did they make you think it was an official ‘public’ form, why did I HAVE to sign it? She got her bag back.

Recently, this article in The Guardian shows that I am not the only one worried about this, and gives more details of what is involved, which sure enough is, guess what? money. As this article states

The Independent today reports the National Childbirth Trust’s (NCT) findings that “parenting club” companies are paying maternity units £5,000 for the right to access their wards, approach their patients and sell their wares. These generally constitute sets of pictures of your newborn for around £20 a print, and in some cases – notably by the largest of these companies, Bounty – the right to distribute “new mother” packs, which contain free samples of baby-related commercial brands, along with promotional literature and some discount vouchers.’

The article concludes with the following:

‘That maternity units are struggling and need all the money they can get is a major cause for concern, but by allowing them to be subsidised in this way the NHS is colluding with private companies exploiting people at their most vulnerable.’ 

I think this sums  up nicely what I felt then, but more so now, as I understand the system better… I’m glad someone is digging into this. The NCT is looking to ban this practice, and I, as the author of the article also states, would gladly add my name to that petition.



Great minds think alike, or the power of coincidence

Hello there, hope some of you are still with us, in spite of our very patchy appearance.

What’s the likelihood of two friends getting pregnant at the same time?? quite remote, but here we are. Natalia, who has been much better at organising her time and energy than me, has already told you her news, I wanted to share mine with you too, though I’m sorry it’s a bit late: I’m pregnant, 5 months now…one week ahead of Natalia to be exact!

This is one of the reasons for my absence here in this space. The first three months were just a bare survival in terms of energy, I couldn’t get my body to do and go along with all my plans. My body did not budge: ‘sleep when you can’, was it’s motto. And that’s what I had to do, even if I had a hard time accepting it (and still am!). Also, all I could think those first months apart from sleep was pregnancy and baby related daydreaming…some good, some wondering how the hell I was to cope with two, if I could barely cope with one…There is something about not being able to talk about something that shuts the door for talking about other things…it was as if I was blocked or something.

After those months, house moving suddenly got very near and a holiday break in between with no internet access – apart from a dark cyber cafe- made contributing here very hard. So I apologise for that! and to myself, because I miss this space, I miss it a lot. Now, one week in the new house, I feel today – unlike yesterday!- that things are starting to shape up a bit in our smaller house: in trying to control the overload of THINGS, in finding ways to accomodate different needs, and especially a little one who has been brilliant with all these changes – baby on the way, move, saying goodbye to the nanny, loads of visits from grandparents – but who needs extra re-assurance – running into our bed in the middle of the night, going to bed late because she needs us to stay with her for a loooong time, and who has quite a few unleashings of what looks like madness over little things, but which are obviously her way of taking some steam out…but in the midst of it all, here I am am. I’m back.



Going for holidays for two weeks

I will be in France on holidays for two weeks with no internet connection. I hope I can survive 🙂

See you soon,


What I want from a job

 I’m currently in the Basque Country where the weather has been crap for two weeks. However, thanks to Susana I can have three hours of computer-reading work every day, unless I need to collapse on my sofa for an hour or so before E. returns from the park full of energy and joy.

 Apart from getting back to writing, reading and doing some other admin work for the university, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about my job. This morning, navigating through my usual feminist blogs I found Rachel’s post “More than enough” in which she wonders “Do I need my paid work to be personally fulfilling?” Her answer is no, and that really made me think. Rachel says:

 “Right now my answer to this question is No. A couple of the gigs that are on the table for me at the moment do sound like creative, fun jobs — but do I need every job (or even most jobs) to be creative and fun? Right now, no. Right now my writing is personally fulfilling (OK, and agonizing, too), and taking care of my family is personally fulfilling, and that’s enough — more than enough, really. Meanwhile, all that I ask of my paid work is that it be satisfactory, worthwhile, and compensated decently.”

 You might think that I’m naïve, but I’ve never thought about my job from this point of view. I’m the type of person who needs my job to be personally fulfilling, otherwise I feel empty and depressed. Most of the time this translates into a not very satisfactory salary that makes me start thinking how I can get more money from my fulfilling job. As you can imagine, this ends up being not fulfilling at all because I get stressed and frustrated.

 I’m working as a part-time lecturer, writing this blog, studying for a PG in Coaching and still wondering whether or not I’m happy with my job. The reason is that I feel I’m not making enough money at the moment and not contributing in the way I would like to (for example, attending conferences and presenting papers, writing more articles in academic journals or writing more things in our blog, especially reviews). The outcome is that I don’t value what I’m doing very highly because I think it doesn’t have a big enough or successful enough impact.

 These thoughts hammer away at my brain and turn into an absolute killer, not allowing me to make the sort of compromise that Rachel talks about.

 My hope is that our second baby will blow everything out and my obsession for performing, doing well, succeeding and making more money will vanish along with the stupid idea that what I need to fulfill myself is a good job.