FORGIVE me for departing from Westminster politics this week, but one story in the papers has got me riled. And in a way childbirth is political, even if it’s not always recognised as such.
Speaking at the British Science Festival in Hull, a leading academic has warned that graphic accounts of childbirth on websites like Mumsnet are leading to a rise in Caesarean sections.
Catriona Jones, a lecturer in midwifery at the University of Hull, said up to 14 per cent of expectant mothers now suffer from ‘tocophobia’, defined as an unreasonable dread of childbirth.
She said: ‘If you go into the forums there are women telling their stories of childbirth, and it was terrible, it was a bloodbath. People have a tendency to like things that are a bit morbid and I wonder sometimes about the ramping up of how traumatic childbirth can be.
‘I also think social media can play a part in promoting the narrative around choice and leading people to believe they can walk into an NHS clinic and say, “I want my baby to be born by Caesarean”.’
It’s true that the narratives around childbirth can be scary — and there is a genuine need to make women feel more positive about giving birth. But are we really blaming women who share their own experiences about giving birth?
There’s already a terrible culture of silence around the reality of giving birth (and the recovery afterwards). Yes, lots of women have a positive experience. But many don’t. And sharing stories in a non-judgmental, anonymous online community can be incredibly important.
If we really want to help women feel comfortable in the delivery room then we need more information, not less.
Before blaming poor old mums, how about ensuring that every woman sees the same midwife while pregnant? Or gets to look around the delivery room before giving birth? Or has more control about how they want to deliver a child?
And — the holy grail — how about everyone is a bit less judgmental about the choices women make when it comes to childbirth — whether at home or in hospital, Caesarean or drug free?
In-spired… or just a very tall tale
THE two Russian suspects in the Salisbury poisoning appeared on TV yesterday to explain that they were just normal blokes on holiday and nothing to do with the GRU military intelligence agency.
Their friends told them about this wonderful city, they said, with its famous cathedral and 123m-high spire.
How plausible! Who hasn’t flown over from Russia for a couple of days to view a cathedral spire? And surely any self-respecting tourist would have to visit Salisbury twice — just to make sure you hadn’t missed anything.
Rees-Mogg makes a din but quiet voices count too
WHEN it comes to Brexit, the same noisy voices are getting louder and louder.
If you were to listen to the MPs who shout the most forcefully, you would be convinced that Chequers is dead, Theresa May has just days left as Conservative Party leader and the UK is poised to leave the EU without a deal.
In reality, however, the European Research Group — the Tories’ hardline pro-Brexit group spearheaded by Jacob Rees-Mogg — does not represent all Conservative backbenchers, or even all Conservative Brexiteer backbenchers.
I had a very interesting conversation recently with Andrew Percy, the Leave-supporting MP for Brigg and Goole. Mr Rees-Mogg is, in his view, playing a dangerous game. He would prefer to compromise in order to secure a Brexit that can get through the House of Commons and is even prepared to swallow some of the Chequers deal as a result.
MPs like Mr Percy may not make headlines with anything like the frequency of Mr Rees-Mogg, but they are just as representative and their votes count just as much.
Yes, the prime minister’s position is precarious — but she may have more support than you think.
■ I’M travelling to Bridgend in south Wales today to make a film for my show, Sophy Ridge On Sunday. If you’ve got any good recommendations for lunch, then let me know!