Posts Tagged ‘labour’

Why I got plenty of sleep during Elina’s labour

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 | Family & Parenting

Sleeping might seem like the last thing you should be doing when your wife has gone into labour. But there is a good reason to get some rest.

She has gone into labour, while you are snoring your head off in the bed next to her. Something wrong? You might think you should be awake to support her, but there is a good reason for you to be asleep.

Millions of years of evolution have made mammals pretty good at giving birth. Like breathing, most of it happens automatically. Hormones pulse around your body, directing your emotions and subtlety controlling your behaviour.

One of the hardest things about labour is not the pain itself, it is the sheer exhaustion of the whole thing. You can be in labour for days, with little or no sleep, and yet somehow women find the strength to go on. They do so because their body makes sure they do, injecting careful amounts of oxytocin and adrenaline at the required times.

Birth partners do not have the benefit of this of course. Things have changed a lot in the past 50 years. We are no longer in the waiting room with a cigar; now we are at our partner’s side helping her through the birth. Mother Nature has not cottoned on to this, though, and leaves us with a few vicarious hormones at best.

So, after 72 hours of sleep deprivation, exactly how helpful are you going to be as a birth partner? This is an important question because when your partner reaches transition, she is going to rely on your support to get through it. If you are barely functioning because you have had no sleep, you are not going to be in a great shape to do that.

Sleeping through half of the labour might seem a selfish thing to do. In reality, though, a somewhat rested birth partner is going be to able to offer far more support than one who is utterly exhausted.

How to support your wife when she wants an active birth

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 | Family & Parenting

Waiting for the labour pains with a well-timed “I told you so” might seem like a good idea, but turns out not to be if you like your balls attached to your body.

The active birth movement has now been going for 50 years and is almost certainly here to stay. That makes sense. Research suggests that active birth reduces the number of complications and interventions, and allows the mother to recover quicker.

As with everything in pregnancy, though, there are benefits and there are also drawbacks.

First, labour can be really painful. It varies from person to person and from birth to birth, but often the amount of pain management required is going to be dictated by the situation.

Second, not everything goes to plan. So you may be planning to have an active birth but the situation could change quickly if there are any issues with labour. Therefore it is important to go in with a mindset of being ready to adapt to the changes required.

How should you handle it? The most important step is to be supportive. Active birth offers a lot more chance for the father to be involved, supporting your partner through the process and helping with non-drug based pain relief (such as massage, and helping her in and out of the bath).

It is also important to be supportive if things to not go to plan. If she decides she does need pain relief after all, remember to reassure her that almost everyone does, and there is no “failure” in resorting to it.

Overall, active birth is a great decision, especially for dads. The advantage is the reduced chance of intervention, and the disadvantages of additional pain are only felt by the father vicariously.

The trouble with Corbyn voters

Saturday, October 1st, 2016 | Religion & Politics


Last month, Jeremy Corbyn won another significant victory in winning the Labour Party leadership election. He increased his share of the vote to 61.8%. This is especially notable because Labour banned any member who had joined in the past 9 months from voting. Therefore, his share of the vote is going to continue to increase for the next nine months as well.

The question still remains as to whether he can win a General Election. Clearly he is electable in almost every other situation. However, Labour trail in the General Election polls by a significant amount. How much of this is due to Corbyn and how much to the attitude of the rest of the Labour party is unclear, but it is difficult to extricate a party leader from responsibility.

Here is the problem though: I think people chose to vote for Jeremy Corbyn because they wanted someone who was genuinely different. They were given the choice between electable business-as-usual candidates, and Corbyn, and they chose the latter. This is not unusual. Those of us who vote for the Liberal Democrats, Greens, or any of the minor parties, know the feeling of deciding to stick with your principles rather than compromising them for electoral glory. We would rather stand up for what we believe in than take a distant second best to have our candidate in Number 10.

My guess is that Corbyn has been elected an on a tide of this feeling. Many Corbyn voters believe he can win (his record in elections is now 11 for 11 undefeated), but perhaps many of them simply do not care whether he is electable or not. They are making a stand for working-class people, for the NHS and for traditional Labour values.

If this is the case, then there is no point putting up candidates like Owen Smith to try and win back the voters. They are not interested in whether Owen Smith has a more expensive suit or more-neatly trimmed beard. They are not in the market for a more-mainstream looking candidate. You cannot win them over with talk about election polls, because it is values they are interested in.

Nor will votes of no confidence, nor continued party scheming and in-fighting do any good. All of this is based on the idea that once Corbyn voters see the pragmatic option is a new leader, they will abandon their hero. But this premise could be entirely misleading. Instead, perhaps it is the case that after 20 years of New Labour, the membership has finally found the balls to stick up for traditional Labour values.

If so, campaigning against Corbyn is futile. Setting your own house on fire does not work when everyone else is willing to burn.

Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class

Monday, January 4th, 2016 | Books, Religion & Politics

Chavs is the second book I have read by Owen Jones. The other being The Establishment.

In Chavs, Jones rails against the lens that working class people have been put under. Led by politicians, and then the media, society has been encouraged to demonise the poor as benefits-claiming jobless scroungers.

Who exactly are the working class? Neil Kinnock offers Karl Marx’s definition.

People who have no means of sustenance other than the sale of labour, are working class

This seems a very workable definition. I would include myself in the working class. I own no business of any value, nor any property, and have to sell my labour to pay the bills.

Before Thatcher took a sledgehammer to British industry in the 80’s, being working class was something to be proud of. As industry disappeared, entire communities were left without jobs and without hope. By 2010 there were two and a half million people unemployed, and less than a million job openings. There simply were not enough to go round. What sympathy do such communities receive? None. They are told to get on the bus and go chase a non-existent job. So Jones contests.

The argument in support of letting industry go was that it needed modernising and could not be propped up by the state. As we now know though, this isn’t the case. We managed to put together a multi-billion pound bailout for banking after all. So bailing out an entire industry is entirely possible.

The ultimate betrayal of the working class was the creation of New Labour. Thatcher’s greatest victory. No longer did Labour aim to help the working class improve their quality of life, but merely to encourage them to escape into the middle class. Thus, if they remained poor, it was their own fault.

This created a climate that you were either middle-class of a benefits scrounger, and there was no in between. Jones quotes Simon Heffer saying so. That feels ironic given I have just read Heffer’s book. No doubt he would wince at the ‘z’ in ‘Demonization’ too.

Society became outraged at the £1 billion we were losing on benefit fraud. Never mind that over £2 billion of eligible benefit is not claimed and that if everyone got exactly what we deserve the state would be less well off. And especially forget the £70 billion per year big business avoids in tax. A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that many people doing cash-in-hand jobs on the side do to to pay for basics like food, heating, or debt. Those are the people to blame.

The media jumped on the bandwagon too. The Sun was outraged when people went to the local shop in their pyjamas at lunchtime. Yet a quick visit to any area full of middle-class students, such as Bodington Hall, would offer a similar sight.

This allowed the government to cut into the working class. Between Thatcher taking power and Blair outing them, the tax burdeon on the working class increased from 31.1% to 37.7%.

Jones comes to the support of Jade Goody. She, after all, is a member of the demonised working class. He makes a good case. He attacks Little Britain, which he correctly identifies as being incredibly offensive, with it’s bad stereotypes of gays, transgender people and the poor.

He also suggests Wife Swap would be better-labelled class swap. From the few episodes I have seen of the show it does seem to come down to that. Far from being an attack on the working class though, it always seemed like comparing the loving family environment of the working class to the cold materialistic stand-off-ish attitude of the middle class.

I take exception to his accusation that there have been no working class bands since Oasis though. While Kaiser Chiefs lyrics may not always reflect well on the working class, such claims could not be made against the also-very-popular Arctic Monkeys.

Back onto the real subject matter, the argument about environment is less clear. Jones claims that the middle class are better able to provide for their children because they can get them an advantage in education and jobs. This is simpler to the case Gladwell makes in Outliers. Things are not that simple though. As Pinker points out, parenting has little effect on a child’s personality or intelligence, so the value on focusing on education is unclear.

It also appears not to the case that the middle class are better at managing their money. As Chris Tapp, director of debt advice charity Credit Action, says, poor people are actually excellent at managing money – one has to be to get by.

On reducing council tenancy from lifetime to 5 or 10 years, I’m torn. As my friend Chris points out, those of us in the private renting market enjoy 6 months at best. And when I advocated building more council housing my friend Helene elaborated on the issues of lifetime tenancy in The Netherlands. However, a few hundred pounds in moving bills wouldn’t actually trouble me. I would be very annoyed, but I could easily get such a sum out of my savings. Whereas I imagine many council tenants do not have a savings account.

One thing that put me off was that at least one of the facts in the book appears to the incorrect. For example, when discussing the 2011 riots, he describes them as spreading to northern cities including Leeds. But they didn’t. There was no rioting in Leeds during that period.

The take-home message for me is that there will always be a working class and it is important to have one, so we should focus on making their (our) lives better rather than offering an escape. This seems a difficult proposition to take fault with.


Miliband doesn’t “do” god

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010 | Religion & Politics

I was reading the Daily Mail’s coverage of Ed Miliband’s interview in which he said that he didn’t do god. He did of course say he has great respect for people who do and I may write about that later (I haven’t heard Cameron say he has great respect for non-believers, persumably because that’s most of us) but one thing I did find interesting was the Daily Mail poll which asked the following.

Does it matter that Ed Miliband does not believe in God?

Let’s pretend it isn’t offensive for them to suggest that the idea that his is an atheist makes him a bad person (one wonders whether they would have run a poll on “does it matter that x is a Muslim?”) and consider how to answer it.

My first reaction was to tick “no.” Because we all know what the poll is really about – as outlined above, do we think the fact that Ed Miliband is an atheist is detrimental to his character. If you answer yes, you do think that, if you answer no you don’t think that.

But of course it isn’t as simple as that. In actual fact, when considering the question does it matter to me that Ed Miliband is a non-beliver the answer is, yes it does. It matters a great deal to me! Just not in the way that the Daily Mail would imagine it might.

In fact, it probably matters to a lot of people. This is a man who could well be the prime minister of the United Kingdom in a few years time – it matters a great deal that he isn’t some mad crackpot religious nut. Especially when the last one turned out to be hiding his religious quackery until after he had sent hundreds of British servicemen to their deaths after some good healthy praying about it.

So yes, it does matter that Ed Miliband is an atheist. It’s great news.

For the record, at the time of casting my vote, 61% said it didn’t matter, with the other 39% saying it did.