Category Archives: pregnancy

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.



Slowing down

 One of the most annoying things in my pregnancies is that my body cries out for its normal rhythm to slow down.  This is a dramatic change for me. I’m used to having a body that follows my mind, a body that is happy to be commanded by my thoughts and the urgency of performing all types of activities. However, during pregnancy the balance shifts.

 It’s my body that is in command now, and my poor mind is left alone with all its fantasies, plans and things that need to be done. My body doesn’t even feel guilty about it. Sometimes when I’m tired but I need to do something, I’m able to tell my body: “OK. I understand that you’re tired now, but we really need to finish this task, so please, help me to finish this and we’ll rest later”.

 When I’m pregnant my body doesn’t listen at all to all the chatting of my mind and turns a deaf ear to its request.  My body just refuses to move, no matter the disaster in the kitchen, the emails that need to be sent or the reading and work waiting for me in the desk.

 During pregnancy I’m dominated by the kingdom of the senses. If a smell is too strong, I need to leave the room or I vomit; if I’m too tired, my foot can go to sleep. I need to eat constantly, and food provokes either aversion or eagerness. I can easily fall into contemplation at the sight of a flower or a bird, and I weep for joy or sadness very easily.

 This is an awful state for a woman who wants to present herself to the world as fully in control and totally responsible regarding her duties. The truth is, I’m not.  I know that I’m never in total control, and that when I have this feeling of command and control in my life it’s pure fantasy. More to the point, I’m not a robot, either, that can accomplish all sort of tasks in perfect order. However, when I’m pregnant this comes as a revelation because it’s not my mind that tells me so, but my body.

 Being in such a bodily state can be a grace or scary. In my case it’s a little bit scary, but I’m trying to learn the lesson…


New addition to maternalselves

My life has been quite hectic in the last three months. I used to be an organised, efficient and energetic person and I’ve become slow, disorganised and low in energy. The reason: I’m pregnant with my second child.

When I told my close friends and family they looked at me in surprise when they realised I was not especially happy. Some people asked me: Was the pregnancy an accident?

Well, let me tell you that it wasn’t, but the fact that I have spent three months vomiting morning and night and with constant nauseas hasn’t help me to create the sort of exultancy that is expected from all mothers to be. I haven’t been able to work, not even to write this blog, and I’ve been quite sad and depressed as I’ve been feeling sick all the time.

I haven’t even been able to be happy with E. and my partner. I just want to be left in peace, in bed and with some food ready to eat. So how on earth can people expect me to be happy?

I am lucky enough to be able to talk with total honesty to Lucila, my mum and my partner about the fact that I’ve been feeling bad and wondering if going for a second one was a good idea at all. However, in front of most of the people I try to say that we’re very happy although I’m feeling quite sick.

The pregnancy planet is a strange place. Right after the fifth week I had a bit of bleeding, so I was referred for a scan. When I heard the heartbeat of our baby I cried. It was as if waves of feelings were passing through my body. Most of the time during this pregnancy it has been like that, like a roller coaster on which I cannot decide why I am so happy or so sad.

I’m still feeling all these contradictions. How am I going to manage a second child, now that I’m starting to get back to work again and have a lot of professional plans for the future? How is the new baby going to affect E.? Am I going to love this baby as much as I love E.? Do I love this baby enough?

I think all these contradictions that crucify me with E. are stronger with this pregnancy. I’ve been there before; I’ve been on a long maternity leave and I’ve struggled with a baby that refused to sleep at night for the first 10 months, plus all the work and effort that the first year requires. Although I want this baby and we were really looking forward to this second pregnancy, sometimes I wonder how I’m going to cope.

I’ve just realised that this post in not in the positive tone that an announcement of pregnancy should be, but this is how I feel today and I didn’t want to fake it. So yes, I’m pregnant, and sometimes I’m very happy, but I’m also very scared, very worried and very tired.