All children inevitably ask where they come from. One potential mother is going to have a harder job than most.
“Well darling, your father committed suicide and I had to get a court order to retrieve his sperm within twenty four hours of his death. Then I had to get another court order to use the sperm. And that’s how you were born.”
Last week one woman’s bid to access her dead husband’s sperm was granted by Supreme Court Justice James Edelman, paving the way to allow West Australian women to access their dead husbands’ sperm without a court order.
Once upon a time, home births were the only option, and mothers and babies frequently died.
Things have changed dramatically since then. Home births are much safer, and much, much rarer. The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics show in 2009 just 0.3 per cent of women had a planned home birth – a total of 863 births. Two babies died.
But home births are still the source of simmering tension; the powerful Australian Medical Association is dead set against them, a very vocal lobby group is angry at recent changes that make them harder, and parents are left to choose between conflicting views and seemingly conflicting evidence.
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When I was pregnant with my second child, the 19 week ultrasound brought potentially devastating news. Our child had a growth on the lung which could kill them. At that stage, doctors were unsure what would happen.
The growth could get bigger, squashing internal organs and killing the baby. If that happened, they could induce the baby at about 26 weeks so doctors could try to operate. Or it may not grow any bigger and the baby could have it removed after birth.
News that a couple had the wrong twin aborted at 32 weeks when one was diagnosed with a serious heart defect brought these memories flooding back. This poor couple ended up losing both children, which is horrific for all involved.
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As a general rule, men and women know squat about babies. At least until they have to raise one.
Then it’s time to knuckle down and survive the crying and vegemite poo, striving for the same primal instinct that enabled our ancestors to find shelter without iPhones and run barefoot across rocky terrain, chasing the evening meal with only a large toothpick and loincloth for protection.
Giving birth, so we have been led to believe, was much the same thing. A labour, in all senses of the word, to be endured rather than enjoyed; a period of a couple of hours (if you were lucky) or a couple of days (if you were not) where all you could do was grit your teeth and hope for the best, as nature intended.
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This week online forums fired up with talk about whether or not you should be allowed to film births, after a report it had been banned. I’d like to know why you’d want to in the first place.
I know it’s all about documenting the miracle of birth and so on, but why would you even think about taking a video camera into a
Maybe there’s some confusion with the operating “theatre” concept.
Okay, so this is a delicate topic. How a woman ‘should’ give birth is such an emotion-charged issue because it’s something a woman has imagined since the moment she found out where babies come from.
If I am brutally honest, there are two camps of women here: one group of very vocal women who are yet to give birth, who are probably pregnant and have a very detailed birth plan (right down to scented candles and essentials oils). The other (far more realistic) group of women are the ones who know that a birth plan gets shot to shit when it’s crunch time.
And by crunch time, I mean that pivotal moment when you scream, “Please get this baby out of my body immediately, or I will kill someone.” (Not that I said this. In fact, I am surprised that for someone who likes profanities, I didn’t call my husband any names or tell him it was ‘his fault’. And whatever else Hollywood makes you believe is ‘normal’ during an intense delivery).
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One of the rudest things you can do is tell a parent how to raise their kid. But that’s not the case when it comes to how to bring it into the world in the first place.
Everyone has tips on birth, sometimes insisting their way is the only way to do it. Have candles and incense. Have stirrups and steel. Do it with hot towels. Do it to music. Breathe like this. Think like that. Take drugs. Refuse drugs. Have a Caesarean. Be induced. Make a video.
Then there’s the row over where it’s best to give birth. In a private suite. In a public labour ward. In a birth centre. And, to much ongoing controversy, in the home.
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