The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Sunday Tele Waggles Its Judging Finger At Four-Star Mums

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 27, 2008

You know what? However a woman chooses to have a baby, whether at home, in a hospital, underwater, with loads of drugs, no drugs at all, vaginally or via caesarean, or in a spaceship cubby with pan-pipes playing and a Batman mask on, that’s her choice (and her partner’s). So what a joy to see the Sunday Telegraph come up with this doozy of a graphic to illustrate their story on ‘maternity hotels':

Let’s see, what can we count here: there’s the odious “What Recession?” moral/economic judgment based on the apparent frippery of mothers choosing to give birth in a “luxury” environment. There’s the naff sexualisation of the mother-to-be in the photo via the headline made to conjure up thoughts of porno mags (“Penthouse Beach Babes”). Assuming the woman in the photograph is Cinta Taylor, who is interviewed in the story, how do you think she would feel about this bit of photo editing?

‘Maternity hotels’ are nothing new; there are options at certain Melbourne hospitals to have one night in the ward proper after giving birth, and then transferring to a hotel nearby with a nurse and midwife on standby; Sofitel Melbourne and Frances Perry House offer one such program, with costs covered by private health funds (in other words, in this instance, the Tele‘s “what recession” gripe is redundant). It’s just another option in the myriad options available to prospective mothers, and I have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. But like any new concept in obstetrics, the ‘maternity hotel’ has its detractors and supporters; from the Tele article:

Australian College of Midwives president Professor Pat Brodie said anecdotal feedback from interstate was that women enjoyed the luxuries of a hotel while having midwifery care.

“Midwives providing post-natal care in a social setting like a hotel would appreciate the opportunity to provide continuity of care, get to know the woman and offer advice and support,” Professor Brodie said.

“Sometimes that’s difficult in busy post-natal wards.”

This is not a perfect answer to the problems of hospital crowding, nor is it the definitive way to have a baby. But if a mother-to-be has an uncomplicated birth and decides to spend the first few days of baby bonding in a four-star hotel room, I see no reason why she should be chastised for apparently spending too much, or for – heavens above – giving herself and her partner and newborn a treat. I am not one of those “motherhood is the most amazing thing any woman can do” people, but you know, if you do do it, well done you – have some room service and a pay-per-view new release! You’re worth it!

There are already too many value judgments made on mothers (see ‘too posh to push’, to breastfeed or not, blah, blah, blah) and I can see that this is just another excuse for the conservative media to tut-tut at mothers, who just can’t seem to please anyone these days.

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2 Responses to “Sunday Tele Waggles Its Judging Finger At Four-Star Mums”

  1. lauredhel said

    The tut-tutting is not cool.

    However, there is plenty of room to criticise private health funds who will fund an obstetrician-attended non-medically-indicated C section and a luxury hotel, while on the other hand refusing to fund midwife-attended home births, which are far more cost-effective from a business point of view.

    Joyful rhetoric about the “myriad of choices” available for the wealthy might work better if there actually were a myriad of choices available, choices that weren’t being vigorously campaigned against by the obstetric monopoly and inaccessible to a large number of women.

  2. rayedish said

    While I can certainly see the attraction of having post-birth care in a hotel, it seems like a niffy trick to deflect criticism about over crowded maternity wards. Remove the private patients, without having to go to the trouble of providing wards in private hospitals.
    Plus what Lauredhel said.

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