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Older mums – a bit more

I wrote an earlier response here to a WA professor’s declaration that older mothers are selfish for a variety of reasons.

One thing that has come back again and again to me from friends, older mothers and those who have not had the opportunity to become mothers, is that there’s a disconnect in some people’s lives between one person wanting to have children, and their partner not wanting children, or not wanting to settle down.

I was interested to read an article today by Sara Holton, Jane Fisher and Heather Rowe that asserts that women delaying having children for selfish reasons in order to pursue personal ambitions or hedonistic activities such as travel are not supported by the evidence.

The article is based upon To have or not to have? Australian women’s childbearing desires, expectations and outcomes by the above women in JOURNAL OF POPULATION RESEARCH DOI: 10.1007/s12546-011-9072-3. I have the article here on my screen (the joys of access to a university library – thank you).

From the news article:

[T]he selfish, career-focused woman who chooses not to have children or delays childbearing is a myth. Women are not helped by the accusations that have been directed at them in recent weeks.

Women would benefit from public policies that are more sensitive to and address the barriers they face in having children.

In addition to the welcome recent improvements in maternity benefits, such sensitive public policies could include education for men about female fertility and the risks to their partner’s health of postponing childbearing.

Other initiatives could include flexible repayment options to permit suspension of higher-education debts while women provide unpaid care for dependent young children, and maximising housing affordability.

Many women would have more children if they could and if circumstances allowed. Women reported a main barrier was their partner’s reluctance to have a child, or another child.

Given that, I feel it is irresponsible for pundits and researchers to yell at ‘older mothers’ for being ‘selfish’ and having children later in life.

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You’re an older mum? Shame! You’re selfish!

Well, that’s what Dr Barry Walters says.

“I see many, many women with diabetes, high blood pressure and all sorts of medical problems and, of course, the older the woman is, the more likely she’s got medical problems,” he said. […]

But that’s just the start of it. You see, that means the older mum’s offspring will have to look after an elderly mother when they are starting out in adult life.

“They (their children) are starting out in life, having a family, working, getting mortgages and have to deal with geriatric parents,” he said. “It’s just not fair.” […]

“I’m looking at 20 years down the track. We’ve got 20 year olds with mothers who have had heart attacks, strokes and are on dialysis for kidney failure for diabetes.”

Dr Walters, perhaps you should be having a word with the “Selfish Fathers” who can’t commit to a marriage with children until they’re in their late 30s because they have spent a couple of decades thinking that some hotter, better woman will turn up, or who thinks that kids are a millstone round their neck or will drain their savings or get in the way of them partying.

Why am I an older mother? Because I was on medication for quite a few years after I was married that had serious implications for any foetus I might carry. I was sensible and chose to not get pregnant while there was a chance of that happening. Crazy, I know. It had nothing to do with how much we wanted a child or how much money we’d saved or how many overseas trips we’d taken. It was a health matter.

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2011 in Motherhood, the mummy race

 

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Gen X women – career before babies?

Article .

This is research from the NY think-tank, the Centre for Work-Life Policy. 43% of Generation X women (born between 1965 and 1978, my generation) do not have children. I find it interesting that the article sees this as a choice and a preferred choice at that, rather than the usual comments one hears of “There are no worthy men around!” I can think of quite a few Gen X women who would have loved to have children but so far have not found a partner with whom they would like to have children, and they do not want to have a child on their own via assisted reproduction technology. Sure, I see that most of us were aware of how much we could achieve and we totally went for it! We could do anything, take on any career, and we believed (still believe) in people being promoted due to their merits rather than just because they’re a bloke.

Ninety-one percent of the surveyed women in relationships were part of dual-earning couples, and 19 per cent out-earned their husbands. Similarly, 74 per cent considered themselves ambitious, compared to 65 per cent of women from the baby-boom generation.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2011 in Article, the mummy race, women

 

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Competitive mothers

One dear lady said to me “Since when has being a mother been a competition?” I would say “For years”, unable to be more specific.

I know when I had DD nearly 5 years ago, it was competitive among the mothers groups online to have the ‘best’ birth.  The overt antenatal competitiveness wasn’t so pronounced at antenatel check-ups, though it came to a head at the birthing classes.  My DH would hold my hand tight and give me a warning look so I didn’t say anything awful to the other soon-to-be mothers.   What, you didn’t know there was a hierarchy of how good a birth a woman has? Let me tell you how it works and how you get points.

1. Natural childbirth without any drugs whatsoever – 50 points
Bonus points if you don’t have an obstetrician and only have midwives.
Bonus points if you bring your own doula
Bonus points if you have aromatherapy, a special playlist on your iPod, hypnotherapy instructions, and hold on to your completed birth plan

2. Childbirth with pain relief or epidural – 30 points

3. Induced childbirth, with or without epidural or pain relief – 20 points

4. Caesarean section – 10 points

There are more point-gaining possibilities for the competitive mother. For example:

  • enduring a very lengthy or a very short labour,
  • having two or more children,
  • enduring an avalanche of relatives and onlookers during labour and birth,
  • being unable to eat for three days during the labour
  • back labour (not rated as highly, which peeves me enormously because I don’t get as many points that way)
  • extreme organisation of one’s labour bag
  • complete disorganisation of one’s labour bag because one headed off to hospital at the rate of knots

Before I get howled down for being a horrible mother and  an awful human being, I’ll tell you what I consider to be the ‘best’ birth. The ‘best’ birth is one where the baby is born healthy, and the mother is well. That’s it. We all want that same result: a beautiful, new human being to welcome into our family, our lives and our hearts.  I really don’t mind how each mother gets to that point. Just leave the points-scoring and celebrate this wonderful new life.

 

Next: how to be competitive after the baby’s birth.

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Child Development, children, Motherhood, women

 

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Smart mum – and one who tells it as it is

Ari O’Connell has written this piece Mothering is an extreme sport and I have to pass it on. Her humour and honesty can be seen with her “I’ll finish my PhD while the baby sleeps for the first three months”. I love it, especially the vision of dirty washing sprouting like mushrooms.

Another reason why I like this piece is Ari’s honesty about the Commentators, who are a danger in this extreme sport we call mothering.

When I’m not changing, or bathing, or hurtling – eyes closed to maintain the illusion of sleep – down to bub’s room at 3.00am, I’m batting off another sporting mainstay, the Commentator. Make that plural. Available anywhere and at any time, the Commentators inform me of how I’m stacking up against the competition, and they double as Coach if I’m going off course.

The mommy wars are so damn useless. I’d do my usual whinge of why can’t we all get along and respect differences, but I’m probably preaching to the choir. All I can say is, Ari, I hope you have a lovely time with your baby, enjoy each moment of happiness when it comes, and keep your sense of perspective.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2010 in Article, children, the mummy race

 

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This takes the cake!

Bet you didn’t know that breastpumps are offensive, or that mums can multitask, like having their lunch or drinking a cup of tea or using a computer while using a pump or breastfeeding. You *did* know? Well, you’re one up on the good folk at the Westfield Mall at Marion in Adelaide, South Australia.

This article describes how Ms Salmon used the mall’s parenting room as the place to express milk for her little baby during her lunch hour. (Ms Salmon’s daughter was being cared for by her father.) While the mother expressed milk behind a curtain, a cleaner came in and watched what she was doing.

“She told me the parents room was for parents and breastfeeding only – and that I wasn’t allowed to eat lunch in there.’’

“They told me that a little kid had been running around in the parents room and had briefly seen what I was doing and had complained to its mum,’’ she said.

“The mum then complained to security and the cleaner came in to inspect what I was doing. They told me the complaint was that there was a topless woman eating her lunch in the parents room.

“It’s tough enough that I have to do this during my break, but for a complaint to be made about me doing it, is really upsetting.’’

Honestly, this takes the cake. Being a mother is hard enough without ignorance being thrust upon you. All power to Ms Salmon as she takes this to the Equal Opportunity Commission.

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2008 in Defies description

 

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Demographics and the birth rate

Betsy Shaw at BabyCenter blogged about changes in fertility rates in North America and Europe.

In Australia we have the baby bonus, originally a sum of $3000 given to parents when a child was born back when the scheme started on 1 July 2004. On 1 July 2006 the baby bonus was increased again. Now, if you had a baby due on 30 June, would you be tempted to hold off as much as possible, if it were medically safe? Would you delay an induction?

Professor Joshua Gans and Dr Andrew Leigh wrote a paper called “Born on the First of July: An (Un)Natural Experiment in Birth Timing”. Gans and Leigh estimate that over 1000 births were moved to ensure their parents were eligible for the baby bonus, with 1 July 2004 showing the highest number of births on one day in the past 30 years. Obviously there were births which occurred in the week from 1 July 2004 which were expected to have been in the previous week.

Analyzing a subsample of birth records, we find that babies born in early-July were significantly heavier than those born in late-June, which would be consistent with parents delaying births to obtain the payment. All of this provides an indication that shifting was, in fact, real and not a result of reporting issues or fraud.

Given that the policy was announced only 7 weeks before it came into effect, planned conception for the baby bonus can be discounted.

Section 5 of the paper looks at parental and child characteristics.

If the introduction effect caused parents to delay birth, then it should be the case that babies born after the Baby Bonus was introduced will weigh more than those born just before the introduction. […]

The increased share of high birth weight babies that accompanied the introduction of the Baby Bonus might potentially have led to adverse health consequences. While babies born pre-term and/or underweight are less likely to be healthy, the same is also true of babies born too late and/or overweight. […]

Nonetheless, while the evidence on birth weight suggests that the introduction of the Baby Bonus might have put some children at risk, we do not find strong evidence that this had more dire consequences.

Food for thought.

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2008 in Child Development, Children's Health

 

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