Encroaching on women’s rights by moralizing motherhood … without moralizing fatherhood

Female symbol located in restricted area

The past 20 years have witnessed an ever growing movement to moralize motherhood, from the endless restrictions on what pregnant women can consume (most of them, like the prohibition on alcohol, far outstripping any scientific evidence), the moralization of infant feeding and public pressure to breastfeed (once again far outstripping any scientific evidence), and the promotion of intensive mothering (attachment parenting) whereby the mother’s “real” work is to stay home and raise children. This moralization of motherhood has been justified as an attempt to recapture the supposedly superior lifestyle of our foremothers. But in truth it has nothing to do with science and everything to do with fear of women’s emancipation.

How can I be sure? Because there has been no comparable attempt to moralize fatherhood or return it to the supposedly superior lifestyle of our ancestors. There is nothing equivalent for fathers to the holy trinity of natural mothering (natural childbirth, breastfeeding and attachment parenting).

  • When was the last time you saw people claiming that “good” fathers demonstrate their love for their wives and children by killing game animals and dragging them home?
  • When was the last time you saw men escorted out of the delivery room because traditional societies do not allow fathers at childbirth?
  • Where are the restrictions on what men can consume, justified by the desire to keep their sperm safe for maximum fertility?
  • When was the last time you saw fathers harassing each other over who is the more natural father?

Never, right? And that’s not a coincidence.

Obviously any large social movement, like the movement to moralize motherhood within industrialized societies, is complex and multifactorial. Nonetheless, a significant impetus for the movement to moralize motherhood is to return to the olden days … for women, but not for men.

That’s why there are mommy wars, but no daddy wars.

As the pressure mounts on young women, it’s time for a wholesale reassessment of what is really driving the promotion of intensive mothering. Is it really about what’s best for children or is it about what returns women to the home and keeps them from achieving professional and economic success?

I hear the natural mothering crowd yelling that it’s about “the science.” But if the last 20 years have shown us anything it is that “the science” is weak, conflicting and riddled with confounding variables. We cannot pin down the answer to something as basic as whether it is good or bad for children if their mothers work and the reason we cannot pin it down is that there is no one answer. It depends; it depends on the individual mother, and individual child and the life circumstances of the family. It’s just like breastfeeding, where “the science” is also quite fuzzy no matter how much lactivists insist otherwise. That’s because the greatest danger of not breastfeeding comes from contaminated water used to prepare it and that’s not a problem in first world countries. Is breastfeeding better for babies than formula feeding? It depends; it depends on the individual mother, the individual baby and the life circumstances of the family.

The weak “science” of breastfeeding and the weak “science” on working mothers is stronger by far that any science on natural childbirth or attachment parenting. That’s because there is no science at all to support either of those two components of the holy trinity of natural mothering.

And what does the science show about fathering in nature? No one knows, because virtually no one is looking.

In part that reflects the importance of mothers during pregnancy and early infancy, but, I would argue, it also reflects the fact that we use mothering to control women while there is no comparable effort at all to control men through fathering.

As a society we need to step back and ask ourselves why we are placing such pressure on new mothers and why we are demanding that women accede to the imperatives of intensive mothering (and shame them for not doing so), while paying no attention to fathering.

Is this really about what’s best for children? Is this really about “the science”? Or is this yet another, albeit thoroughly modern, way to control women?

280 Responses to “Encroaching on women’s rights by moralizing motherhood … without moralizing fatherhood”

  1. Alex Tulchner
    June 2, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    Killing game animals and dragging them home = purchasing formula and driving it home –> my baby’s father is the naturalest of all #humblebrag

  2. N
    June 1, 2015 at 9:14 am #

    I think the role of fathers has already changed and still is changing a lot. Fathers nowadays know how to change diapers, how to push a stroller, how to carry a baby in a sling or other baby carrier, fathers are – almost have to be – present at birth, … fathers are especially important for older siblings while mother is breastfeeding the baby, … where we live fathers can have some parental leave too, although it is not yet very common or considered normal to take it. But it is possible and a growing number of fathers does take it.

    And than I wonder what kind of life children have, if both parents work full-time and they have to stay from 7 am to 7 pm at school and daycare. As a teacher I see a lot of children with a lot of problems, and as not all children with full-time working parents have problems, almost all children with problems have full-time working parents. This is not backed up by science. It is very personal observation and interpretation.

    • demodocus
      June 1, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

      Both my parents worked and both took care of us. We were at school or on the bus from 7-400 (2nd stop on a rural route.) Dad saw us off to school, Mom was home for us at 4. Dad came home 2 hours later. The whole “mom stays home” is fairly new and something poorer families could never do. If mom was home, she was probably taking in laundry or sewing or something. When Dad was in the hospital with cancer for all that time, Mom would send me to a daycare so she could work. The lady there was so mean. She made us wash our hands before we ate our snacks, and wouldn’t let us climb the bookcase, or hit Carly, even if Carly did call me a poopyhead. She also wouldn’t allow me to call her Terry like all the other kids; I had to call her Gramma. Terrible, terrible.

  3. FortyMegabytes
    May 29, 2015 at 9:53 pm #

    When my wife gave birth via c-section, my role was pretty clearly defined – to never take my eyes off our daughter. I took that a step further by never being outside a three-foot radius of our daughter for the first two hours of her life. While my wife was being stitched up, I was feeding our daughter a bottle, watching her warm up under a heat lamp, and otherwise making sure no imps took her and replaced her with a changeling.

    After I placed her in my wife’s arms, my assigned role was over. We’ve been making it up as we go along ever since. She just turned four and we celebrated in the morning but just plain old dancing for 15 minutes at my daughter’s urging. You should have seen some of the moves she made.

    So even though we never bothered much to define what roles my wife and I were to play in our daughter’s life, I like to think we’re not doing so bad.

    • May 29, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

      THAT. Is how you parent.

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      May 30, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

      Sounds a lot like how my husband and I raised the Spawn. He was the first one to see and hold her. And one of my favorite memories of the two of them is him putting on some heavy metal and her rocking her head back and forth while whipping her pink blanket over her head.she was 2.good times. She s 20 and happily off studying engineering so I guess our musical choices didn’t do permanent damage. I consider her Taylor Swift addiction her way of rebelling…

    • sdsures
      May 30, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

      May I one day be as good a parent as you are.

  4. May 29, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    Shaare Tzedek Medical Center in Jerusalem does not allow fathers in the delivery room.

    • May 29, 2015 at 6:07 pm #

      Jesus. (Pun not intended.)


      • May 30, 2015 at 2:38 am #

        It’s a great hospital, much preferred by Jerusalemites to Hadassah — both give excellent care, but Hadassah makes you feel like you should kiss their feet and acknowledge how marvelous they are. Yes, ST is Orthodox.

        • May 30, 2015 at 3:09 pm #

          Eugh. No, I wouldn’t feel comfortable there either then.

      • yentavegan
        May 30, 2015 at 10:06 pm #

        Modern Orthodox men do attend the birth of their babies.

        • May 31, 2015 at 12:57 am #

          Yes, they do. My alma mater, Beth Israel in NYC, never had a problem with it, although the men often kept themselves physically somewhat distant from their wives. But in general, the religious in Israel are stricter in interpretation. It’s only recently that ST allowed nurses to wear pant suits.

          It’s worth remembering that in various cultures men are not expected to be with wives at delivery [Arab women will show up with a female relative rather than a husband], and a considerable number of women, for their own reasons, who are not religious, also don’t want the men around.

    • toni
      May 29, 2015 at 6:41 pm #

      my dad donates to that hospital! They saved his sight when he was in his twenties.

    • FarAwayStars
      May 30, 2015 at 10:20 am #

      Are you sure that’s still true? I’m almost certain I’ve heard otherwise. I thought they were set up to accommodate religious couples but welcomed secular families as well.

      I had my first in Jerusalem, but at Ein Kerem, and never considered giving birth anywhere else. My husband felt very welcome there; the midwife even sweetly brought him a hospital bed mattress so he could sleep on the floor during most of the labor (we arrived at 11pm, got an epidural, went to sleep, and had a baby in the morning). I’d have given birth again at Ein Kerem in a heartbeat, except we were no longer living in Jerusalem the second time around.

      • May 30, 2015 at 11:24 am #

        Yes, it is. The new L&D unit was designed to allow fathers access without letting them see other women, but at the last minute the hospital rav declared “no way” men could be in the actual delivery room EXCEPT in a curtained alcove, for reasons of modesty and because a woman in labor is niddah.
        ST has between 900 and a 1000 deliveries a MONTH. Many non-religious, and Arab women choose to deliver there, as well as religious women.

        The new unit of Hadassah in Ein Karem is quite nice, but the postpartum ward is often overcrowded. As for experiences there, of course it varies with the day and the staff. I gave birth three times in Hadassah Mt. Scopus, and I was personnel; twice I was treated like royalty, the third time the ward was so busy I signed myself out early and went home. Since all the doctors knew me, they were willing to “free up the bed” even though it was my third C/S.

        • sdsures
          May 30, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

          Good to learn new things. I didn’t know about niddah in terms of labour and delivery, but then I am not Orthodox.

        • FarAwayStars
          May 31, 2015 at 7:23 am #

          Interesting. I had no idea. I recall many women recommending Shaare Tzedik to me, and I never heard about this. Clearly it isn’t hurting their popularity, so it’s nice that religious women can be accommodated with a comfortable environment, but I’m still surprised to hear this. It’s hard for me to imagine secular Israeli women not wanting their husbands/partners present at the birth, but Shaare Tzedik is undeniably popular- I know a lot of women perceive it as being more vbac/natural friendly than Haddasah.

          • May 31, 2015 at 5:07 pm #

            Mizrachi women tend to be much less in favor of having their husbands with them, and the men are much less interested in being in the labor room.

            The really secular crowd, our equivalent of the crunchy granola mothers, don’t generally choose ST. And they are not a large group in Jerusalem, any way — more in Tel Aviv.

            And yes, AFAIK, the policy is still in force. Husbands can be adjacent to the labor room, but not next to their wives.
            As for being more VBAC friendly, this is largely because so many of the patients are planning to have very large families and would rather not have C/Ss, which might limit the number of children they will have. The NCB mothers, however, go more to Hadassah. Most of the women coming to ST are happy to have an epidural at the earliest possible moment, and pitocin too. Most just want the business completed as expeditiously and painlessly as possible so they can get home again.

        • SporkParade
          May 31, 2015 at 10:26 am #

          Weird, are you sure? All of my Jerusalem-area cousins gave birth there and recommend it highly, and the fathers were there for all of the births (the most recent was 2 years ago).

  5. Mattie
    May 29, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

    I was shocked at the amount of food we told women to avoid at their booking appointment, and I think the US restrictions are even stricter. Is it true that in the US they say to avoid cold meats (like salami and ham and stuff) or is that a myth. Some I can understand like alcohol and non-pasteurised milk/cheese, even raw egg makes sense (although the risk of getting salmonella is pretty small), but I just think the amount of rules confuses women and makes them unnecessarily panicky about eating, especially eating out at restaurants or other people’s houses, seems daft to me.

    • Cobalt
      May 29, 2015 at 1:29 pm #

      Lunch meats are pregnancy blacklisted in the US, I think for the Listeria risk. You’re supposed to avoid or cook them.

      • Mattie
        May 29, 2015 at 1:30 pm #

        either lunch meats are more dangerous in the US than in the UK, or your restrictions are excessive…could be both

        • Cobalt
          May 29, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

          I think there was a Listeria outbreak once, somewhere, that was related to lunch meat, and so they’re on the blacklist permanently.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

            huh, probably one of the restrictions I’d choose to ignore, but can sort of see why they’d be wary,

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

            Pretty much what Cobalt said. It’s unlikely in the extreme.
            To be fair, my OB has a great deal of common sense, and I can’t imagine he’s alone in this. Once I was past the first trimester, he was fine with my having the occasional glass of wine. He never even mentioned the whole lunchmeat thing to me, and I treated it like I did sushi: if I knew a given restaurant/sandwich shop was a decent-quality, clean place, I’d still eat their products even when pregnant. I eat raw cookie dough when I’m not pregnant, but I wouldn’t risk it, low though the risk is, while I am. Etc.
            Also, you’re more likely to get listeria from eating, say, contaminated cantaloupe here a few years ago, or contract e. coli from eating unwashed/improperly washed vegetables, but since (per Dr. Amy’s recent and excellent post about food and morality) fruit and vegetables are Good and lunchmeat is Bad, no one tells you not to eat spinach or cantaloupe while pregnant. If it came out tomorrow that chocolate, on the other hand, could potentially in some way carry listeria in so much as an alternate universe, the world at large would be screaming at women never to eat chocolate if there was even a possibility of their getting pregnant.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

            yeh, it’s all just so…frustrating, like I had to tell women older than me, some with advanced degrees, to remember to wash the dirt off their fruit and veg before eating it. Like come on, give women a bit of credit, they seem to have survived this long without dying.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm #

            Right. If you followed every single restriction/suggestion out there, you’d end up spending nine months sitting in a room padded with organic cotton, wearing an organic bamboo shift, drinking thrice-distilled and filtered water, and eating nothing but boiled organic chicken breast and lima beans. Of course, then you’d probably get sick from a Vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight, but you’d also have little-to-no chance of getting melanoma from too much skin damage from the sun. *snort*
            When it comes down to it, as with most things in life, the thing to do when pregnant is to use common sense. Eat sushi once in a while, and enjoy it. Yay good fats and delicious, delicious wasabi! You probably shouldn’t try out that $4.99 all-you-can-eat oyster bar when pregnant. (Or any other time, but I digress.) Have the occasional glass of wine, but chugging vodka shots should probably wait ’til postpartum. Etc.

          • Megan
            May 29, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

            And don’t even tell anyone you continued to (gasp!) color your hair while pregnant! What a horrible mom I am that, once past 10 weeks, I continued with my regular coloring…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

            Heh. About as awful as I am for planning on coloring my hair this weekend because we’ll be not-really-trying-not-really-avoiding starting this month, and I don’t want all my grays to be as obvious as they otherwise would be (I’m 27, but already have a lot of gray hair) in the first couple of months. ๐Ÿ˜€

          • Mad Hatter
            May 29, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

            I only got mine highlighted…LOL though someone freaked out about that!

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 2:35 pm #

            I henna my hair (because I like the colour) I think that’s safe lol

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            May 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm #

            I switched to henna during this pregnancy, but it was more because I prefer the colour and pregnancy allowed me to justify spending the time and effort to do it. I use the Lush henna blocks and I get really good results but it’s an enormous pain in the arse to use. I should probably do it again before this baby comes (39w1d!).

          • Cobalt
            May 29, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

            So close! Best wishes for a safe, fast, and easy delivery and recovery for you both.

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            May 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm #


          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

            I actually find it easier to use, other than the prep time, and prefer the smell of henna to the chemical dye, but it can be a bit of a technique. How do you do it?

            ETA, wow that’s so close, you must be excited ๐Ÿ˜€

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            May 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

            Mix about half a block with hot water, then apply it with my hands going from front to back, wrap my head in cling film and leave it for 4-6 hours. It’s not too bad, but I’m out of commission for most of the day, and I always make a mess of the bathroom.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 5:16 pm #

            haha it does tend to splatter =P and yeh, you do end up having to stay in. I grate it first, and add boiling water, easier to get a workable consistency, you can also do it before bed, cling film and a towel over and sleep in it, you can’t really leave it on ‘too long’ so if you are able to sleep like that it frees up a day ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Monkey Professor for a Head
            May 29, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

            I toss and turn too much at night, it would be an awful mess! I’ll probably do it next week, but I have a feeling that as soon as I apply it I’ll go into labour or something. Well, I suppose invoking Sod’s law is an all natural method of induction ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

            I have one of those ‘towel turban’ things I use, it tends to stay on even though I am also a mover at night, and yes sod’s law is probably a highly effective induction strategy

          • Montserrat Blanco
            May 29, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

            Best wishes for your end of pregnancy and delivery!

          • Maya Markova
            May 29, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

            The “natural” crowd should better try to achieve cultural acceptance of women under 90 with greying hair. I feel I must start coloring my hair in a couple of years, and I hate the idea of investing time in the procedure. At the same time, I lack the courage to look different from everybody else.

          • Megan
            May 29, 2015 at 6:32 pm #

            But apparently now going gray on purpose is the new trend! So says the Today show anyway…

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            May 29, 2015 at 9:39 pm #

            If I go gray early like my mom did I’m not going to bother. I died my hair from the time I was fourteen until I was twenty five because I hated my hair color. Most of the time it varied from just below my shoulder blades to down to my waist. Then I have baby fine hair but a TON of it. After a good weaved dye the total for getting my hair dyed was commonly around the $80 range. And THEN my hair grows a good four to six inches in about six months. Keeping up with the roots was awful.

            I tried box color but it always came out so “meh” that I stayed with professionals. My husband and I were practically flat broke when we got married so I couldn’t get it dyed anymore. When we started making money again it didn’t seem that important anymore. A lot of it probably having to do with my husband seeing my naturally hair color for the first time and saying he liked it. I’ve always hated my hair color so hearing that gave me a little more confidence.

            Going gray probably won’t be too bad for me since if the rest of the light haired people in my family are any indication, it’ll likely be a neutral silverish color that would actually look pretty nice with my skin tone.

          • KarenJJ
            May 29, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

            My mum tried that, but found herself getting treated like a “dear little old lady” at the shops and was mighty pissed off so she dyed it again.

          • ersmom
            May 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

            I’m 42, mostly grey now. Started going grey as a teen. Decided after dying my hair once that it was too much hassle. Get a lot of compliments on my hair color. Wish I had the guts to stop shaving my legs.

            My 15 year old daughter is finding grey hairs now.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 2:10 pm #

            surprised any of us are here at all, it’s funny because the natural parenting crowd seem to ignore so many risks, but then make up the number with fake scary food toxins lol

          • Megan
            May 29, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

            Yeah unfortunately I think the advice while pregnant has become “if you ant absolutely prove it to be safe to do/consume/whatever, then assume it’s not safe.”

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

            seems that as soon as women get pregnant they lose all sense of how to assess risk, should all just lie in bed for 9 months, be tube fed sterile formula feed and not worry their pretty little heads =P

          • MLE
            May 29, 2015 at 7:57 pm #

            That would have relieved a lot of my irrational anxiety, and being called pretty would have felt nice too ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Mattie
            May 30, 2015 at 3:16 am #

            Haha well, I’m sure you are very pretty, but I’m sorry that you were so anxious while pregnant, I think that’s largely a product of society…and a rather annoying one.

          • Who?
            May 30, 2015 at 4:31 am #

            We’re anxious about everything to do with our bodies now-weght and weight distribution, hair on head, other body hair, sags and bags, spots and wrinkles.

            Sad really.

            Thinking we can always be better, or do better, or become perfect is a dangerous line of thinking at the best of times, and when it concerns pregnancy, it is especially dangerous. No one is perfect, and even if really healthy at birth our babies aren’t perfect-if nothing else they will have some traits from their dad!

            It makes me crazy watching people turning themselves inside out to follow woo-tastic advice.

          • MLE
            May 30, 2015 at 10:05 pm #

            Yeah a lot of it was babycenter and the like, but most was totally out of left field, husband giving me crazy eyes type stuff that completely went away after the kid was born. I’m thinking that was a product of hormones gone wild!

          • Box of Salt
            May 29, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

            Cobalt “I think there was a Listeria outbreak once, somewhere, that was related to lunch meat”

            Found it: http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/42/1/29.full

            2002, linked to deli turkey from two specific plants. The link is a case control study where the controls had a different strain of listeria.

            The thing is: people died. There were fetal deaths, and infected newborns. And policies changed.

            I couldn’t tell you why they didn’t add cantalope to the “avoid” list after the larger 2011 outbreak. Perhaps because there was only one fetal demise, rather than several back in 2002.

          • KarenJJ
            May 29, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

            That was one of the things I didn’t understand. I avoided ham unless it was on pizza or in a toasted sandwich, but I ate tomatoes, cantaloupe etc and drank orange juice. The Listeria scares since I was first pregnant have been in these products, not ham…

        • May 29, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

          Definitely both.

      • Allie P
        May 29, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

        My doc only said if you’re at a party and you see a tray of lunch meat sitting there for god knows how long, skip it. I ate sandiwches and went to delis all the time.

        • Who?
          May 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

          Sounds like advice for life, tbh, not just for pregnancy.

      • Valerie
        May 29, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

        I’m not a medical doctor, but I looked this up recently when my sister got pregnant. My understanding of listeria is that most cases affecting pregnancy are isolated, as in, not part of an outbreak. Pregnant women (or rather, their placentas) are especially susceptible to listeria where the general public, except for the immunocompromised, are not. In healthy people, the immune system deals with it (unless it’s particularly bad or numerous, like a strain that caused an outbreak). In pregnant women, even the smallest amount gets from the blood to the placenta and silently wreaks havoc. Cured meats, hot dogs, lox, etc, are more likely to get contaminated. I think the problem is that it’s difficult to estimate the rate of listeriosis and your relative risk because miscarriage is sometimes the only symptom, and often the tests aren’t done to determine if it was the cause after the fact. So yeah, the advice might be overly cautious (listeriosis is still rare), but if you had a lot of difficulty getting or staying pregnant, you might want to be very cautious about something that can cause you to miscarry with little warning.

        • Cobalt
          May 30, 2015 at 7:37 am #

          If someone finds an overabundance of caution to be the right choice for them, so be it. Avoiding a known risk, however small, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Depends on the situation.

          I’d like the numbers on how much risk is reduced by avoiding lunch meats though. The overwhelming majority of food borne illness comes not from “higher risk” but properly handled foods, or from outbreaks related to the supply chain. It comes from typically “safe” foods that are mishandled at home, like insufficient cooking, delayed cooling, cross contamination, etc.

          Listeria is a dangerous and durable germ, perhaps women should be given information on how it avoid it instead of an ever-lengthening list of foods that had Listeria on them at some point in time.

    • Sarah1035
      May 29, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

      REAL lunch meat is usually smoked and not “cooked” and why it’s at higher risk. Same thing with the outdated soft cheese advice. If you buy it from a grocery store and its labeled pasteurized it’s fine. If it’s from a farmers market and it really have no idea or guarantee on safety I’d stay away.
      Blue Bell ice cream just had a huge recall on ice cream, luckily no one has called for pregnant women to stop eating that. I think I’d cut someone if they told me I couldn’t have my mini ice cream sandwiches. Because they are mini that means I can have four right? ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Mattie
        May 29, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

        4, don’t you mean 8 =P I love my smoked meat, salami, parma ham, yum, not giving that up. Funnily enough, Italian and French women seem to have babies without too many issues and they probably eat way more ‘problem’ stuff than people in UK/US.

        • Mishimoo
          May 29, 2015 at 6:42 pm #

          My French GP orders a toxoplasma screen for every woman (which is now standard, but wasn’t when I was last pregnant) simply because she hates seeing congenital toxoplasmosis, so I’m going to guess that there is/was a problem.

          • Who?
            May 29, 2015 at 6:46 pm #

            Toxoplasmosis was something everyone was thinking about when I was pregnant in the UK in the early nineties.

          • KarenJJ
            May 29, 2015 at 9:34 pm #

            That was the excuse I used for not cleaning the kitty litter tray for a few years.

          • Who?
            May 30, 2015 at 4:17 am #

            Yes it was a cat droppings, gardening without gloves thing. I assume I was tested for it, came back negative, and told not to garden without gloves.

          • momofone
            May 30, 2015 at 10:18 am #

            My son is eight, and I still don’t clean it!

            (I would be glad to, but my husband considers that a Man Job, and I’m definitely not going to lobby for it.)

          • Mishimoo
            May 30, 2015 at 6:13 am #

            It doesn’t seem to have been a big deal until recently in Australia. I know that I asked if I should be concerned about it when I was pregnant in 2006 because I worked in a vet surgery at the time, and it was brushed off as not important. When I was tested in 2012, it was still regarded as overkill, but it was nice to know that I’d never had it. I felt pretty vindicated actually, as my parents had been blaming that instead of their crappy parenting for my depression and ‘rebellion’ despite not knowing if I had it or not.

          • Mattie
            May 30, 2015 at 3:28 am #

            I think toxoplasmosis comes more from other sources than from cured lunch meats (soil, raw meat/undercooked meat, unwashed fruit and veg). Also, if it was such a big problem then surely more people would have contracted it/have immunity prior to becoming pregnant? If diet is the source of it then you’d expect most people to have the antibodies, high rates of congenital toxoplasmosis suggests few people had previously been exposed.

          • Mishimoo
            May 30, 2015 at 6:09 am #

            I think it depends on how the meat is prepared, especially if it’s home cured. Someone else mentioned that homemade pork products from that area may carry it as even though they’re meant to have the pigs checked by a vet, most people don’t bother.

          • Mattie
            May 30, 2015 at 7:01 am #

            yeh true, but it’s just common sense…or, if you’re the kind of person who eats meat from sources where you’re not entirely sure of the health of the animal then you’re likely to have acquired the antibodies already anyway

          • Inmara
            May 31, 2015 at 7:27 am #

            I always wonder about suggestions for pregnant women to avoid cats/wash hands or vegetables etc. before they have been tested for antibodies. It’s a simple and comparatively cheap blood test, and you know right away if you have had it already and can’t get acute toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, or you really ought to be careful. I am in the “already had it without noticing” camp, so still cleaning litter box (sigh).

          • Mattie
            May 31, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

            We did the antibody test at booking, but then didn’t generally see women again til 16 weeks which I guess is a while to not know/potentially get it. I think the majority of women I saw had the antibodies, and like..again it’s common sense, unless you’re bad at hand washing it’s not a risk. You can’t get it from just petting a cat, you’d have to clean a litter box with your bare hands and then lick your hands after, which is gross lol

          • Inmara
            May 31, 2015 at 1:13 pm #

            Well, I definitely didn’t lick my hands after cleaning litter boxes, but somehow still got the infection – but it’s quite possible with more than 20 years frequent contact with outdoor cats (our family or relatives always have had at least one).
            You don’t have system where patients receive their bloodwork results immediately rather than waiting for next appointment? I always have anything from lab directly in my e-mail; understandably, in many cases it leads to people frantically typing questions in internet forums (my HCG is this and that, is this normal?!) rather than calling their doctor, but at least any important results can be taken into consideration as soon as they get out of lab.

          • Mattie
            May 31, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

            Oh it might be that anything abnormal gets flagged and the midwife or GP would see them before the ‘scheduled’ time, but no patients don’t get their results emailed they have to call and get either NAD or ‘the GP will call to discuss the results’ which is really scary lol I don’t think we do HCG levels as standard

          • Wren
            May 31, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

            I know they didn’t do them as standard in the UK 8-10 years ago, or at least not in the area I lived in. Even with fertility treatment they didn’t do them.

          • Wren
            May 31, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

            I didn’t have the test, but then again it was an excellent reason to give the cleaning out the litter tray duty to my husband.

      • Montserrat Blanco
        May 29, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

        In Spain you are told to avoid cured ham. I must admit I stopped eating homemade pork products because they have literally no sanitary guarantee (you are supossed to call the vet but nobody does) so there is a real risk of getting Toxoplasma. If it has been produced on a real factory the risk is neglible due to the controls they perform, so I ate anything that came inside a lot of plastic in the supermarket. I only avoided shark and swordfish and raw egg. Oh, and my mother in law raw salad leaves. She has cats wandering about and not all of them go to the vet, so in order to avoid asking if she had washed them properly I just skipped them. Pretty easy. Baby came early due to preeclampsia but no food borne diseases at all. I skipped alcohol, so no eating would have been SO sad!!!

    • Wren
      May 29, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      Peanuts. With one pregnancy I was told to avoid them while pregnant and breastfeeding to avoid peanut allergies. With the other I was told to make a point of eating them while pregnant, to avoid peanut allergies. My kids are 20 months apart.
      Given the 9 months of morning sickness each time, with a few trips to the hospital when I couldn’t stop being sick, I followed a rule of “if I fancy it, I’m eating it” during both pregnancies, except for the pile of dirt some builders left outside a nearby house during my last pregnancy. I would drool walking past it, but never broke down and ate any.

      • Guestll
        May 29, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

        Which pregnancy were you told to eat them in? I’m curious because 4 years ago, I was told EAT PEANUTS for the same reason, which was great because peanut butter tastes about the same coming up as it does going down.

        • Wren
          May 29, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

          I think it was the second one, which would put the advice about 8 years ago now.
          And yes, peanut butter beats cheeseburgers (craving in 1st pregnancy) coming back up by a lot.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

            One of my sisters had HG. She eventually ended up with PICC/TPN but before that she actually made a list of foods that she deemed “not as terrible coming up” along with a companion list of “tastes like shit coming up” and it was very helpful to me as soon as the barfs hit. Gatorade, for example…not so bad coming up. Milk or any kind of fruit juice — urrrghh.

          • Wren
            May 29, 2015 at 2:59 pm #

            Orange juice blended with frozen raspberries wasn’t too bad actually, but cold and sour was my thing during the first trimester both times.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

            My mouth just watered (in the bad way) reading “orange juice.” Meeeeeeemoreeeeeees…no no no!! Glad you were able to tolerate it. I love OJ and just…no.

          • Wren
            May 29, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

            I’m sorry.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

            It’s ok! 4 years on and I still can’t drink it. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • Wren
            May 29, 2015 at 3:03 pm #

            Mint toothpaste can still get me from time to time, and my youngest is nearly 8.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

            Oooooh, that sounds delicious right now. ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Cobalt
        May 29, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

        I wonder about the science on fetuses and allergies. Specifically, can a fetus have an allergic reaction? How would anyone know? What are the implications if they can?

        • Mattie
          May 29, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

          guess that lies with whether a foetus has an immune system, or whether fetal immunity is just ‘the immunity the mother has’ I think it’s the latter but don’t know what research there is

          • Azuran
            May 29, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

            I don’t know specifics about humans, but in animals, the immune system develops some time during the gestation. So, a very young embryo doesn’t have one, but a close to term does (with a period of gray in between). A newborn can already have anti-bodies if it was infected with something before it’s birth. I expect it is about the same with humans.
            I suppose that it would be possible for a foetus to have an allergic reaction while still in the womb. Though that would probably by very hard to diagnose. I’m also not sure about the symptoms in a foetus….They can’t suffocate…I’m also not sure how their circulatory system would be affected by an anaphylactic shock.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

            wow, interesting, yeh, not sure either…seems like something worth trying to research but no clue how

        • araikwao
          May 31, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

          I think the idea is that as the fetal immune system develops, if it is exposed to frequent little doses of peanut protein it is less likely to recognise it as something to attack at all costs when it encounters peanut protein later in life (I.e as an infant) vs the more-developed system that “sees” this foreign invader for the first time when it much more equipped to produce an anaphylactic response. (obv there is loads of genetic variation, and some would never have developed allergy no matter when you introduced peanuts, and some that will)

      • Azuran
        May 29, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

        That’s science evolving with new knowledge. It was theorized a few years back that to avoid allergies in kids, you had to avoid contact during pregnancy and childhood. Since you usually need to be in contact with something in order to develop allergies to it, it kinda made sense.
        However, lately the scientific evidence seems to be showing that avoiding potential allergens actually increased the risk of developing allergies. Hence now why they are recommending pregnant women and children to be exposed more.

        • Wren
          May 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm #

          I get that. It just amazed me the shift from “avoid at all costs” to “definitely eat” in such a short time.

    • guest
      May 29, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

      Yep, we are warned against cold deli meats, although people say you can heat them until steaming in a microwave to make them safe. No canned food (unless BPA-free cans), be very careful about the amount of fish, avoid caffeine and chocolate, alcohol, sushi and other raw food, soft cheeses, unpasteurized dairy, nuts, hot dogs and bacon…

      I decided to try and eat as many things on the prohibited list as I could, because I tend to react defiantly to restrictive dictums. I did not do illegal drugs, but I did take OTC drugs when needed (always informed medical providers and only when I really felt I needed it) and drank small amounts of alcohol very occasionally. I didn’t go crazy, it was more like doing each thing at least once because ARRRRG!

      A lot of the food warnings are because of a risk of food poisoning, but the summer I was pregnant the biggest food poisoning outbreak was due to contaminated fresh melons, and you didn’t see those being put on the banned list.

      • Mattie
        May 29, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

        wow…I mean, forgive my ignorance but I thought BPA was in plastic not cans, no way would I microwave all my cold meat (who has time for that) we say to avoid fish with high levels of mercury (tuna, shark, marlin and swordfish) but other fish is fine, lol at giving up chocolate (UK says limit caffeine, but not avoid) and bacon is delicious that would not be going anywhere. Medication was ‘at the advice of your doctor or pharmacist’ but no ibuprofen (paracetamol is generally fine).

        • guest
          May 29, 2015 at 3:55 pm #

          Some cans have a plastic lining, and I don’t believe they are an actual problem. But some people do.


        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          May 29, 2015 at 4:02 pm #

          Wait, you mean that you use common sense and you’re fine? Who woulda thunk it?! :p
          Yep, the mercury-fish thing is present here, too. Interestingly, if you look at the actual US recommendations, though, it’s to not have more than a serving or two per week, not to avoid it entirely. Most of us here wouldn’t have more than that anyhow, whether pregnant or not. I don’t know about the UK’s food prices, but here in the US fish is obscenely expensive. Swordfish and fresh tuna at my local grocery store are about $12/pound, which comes to around 16 British pounds per kilo/8 pounds per pound in the UK. In comparison for animal-based protein, I can get chicken for $1/pound if I shop sales properly. (Shark and marlin aren’t generally available in major US stores, so I’m not sure what they cost, but if they aren’t common they aren’t going to be much less than the prices I quoted here.)

          • Sarah
            May 31, 2015 at 9:43 am #

            We also say to limit oily fish to a couple of servings a week, here in the UK. So it sounds quite similar. Unlimited white fish. Fish can be quite dear in the UK but less so than the US, by the sound of things. Remember you’re never more than a few dozen miles from the sea here, which may make a difference to cost.

        • Sarah
          May 31, 2015 at 9:42 am #

          Why would we avoid bacon? I went right off the stuff during both my pregnancies, but not sure what the risk would be?

          • Mattie
            May 31, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

            no idea, it was the poster above that mentioned it ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Allie P
        May 29, 2015 at 5:09 pm #

        Um… I was not warned against ANY of that, except obviously, alcohol, raw seafood, and high mercury-containing seafood. Unpasteurized cheeses are almost unheard of in the US, and though my doc said I might avoid random buffet platters of deli meats with questionable provenance, I could eat deli meat I’d bought myself or got at a sandwich shop just fine. No one ever breathed a word about caffeine, chocolate, nuts, hot dogs, bacon, or canned food. Where the heck do you live?

        • guest
          May 29, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

          In one of the largest cities in the US. But the internet is everywhere. I heard about all these things I wasn’t supposed to eat from pregnancy books and websites, mostly – and not random people on websites, I mean site supposedly written by reputable reporters. But obviously not.

      • Froggggggg logged out
        June 1, 2015 at 4:25 am #

        This is the Australian list: http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/consumers/life-events-and-food/pregnancy/pregnancy-table#.VWwRiKja_ic There is a separate section on fish because of the mercury. They also recommend you avoid all alcohol and limit caffeine to 200mg daily. Interestingly, nuts are on the list of recommended foods. Even peanut butter.

        The list of “don’t eats” was already quite long when I was pregnant with my first 15 years ago, but seems to get more and more extensive as time goes by. I feel that a lot of it is just common sense and comes down to good basic food hygiene, but some of it is a bit OTT. I know women who unnecessarily worried and avoided a lot of foods because they didn’t understand the reasons behind the recommendations or weren’t given the right information (for example home-made mayo may be risky due to raw egg, but store-bought mayo is pasteurised and totally fine to eat… yet they’d avoid all mayo… that kind of thing). Also, all cheese in Australia is made from pasteurised milk – I know that doesn’t rule out all the risks, but the cheese recommendations never really made sense to me.

    • Monkey Professor for a Head
      May 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

      I think I’ve broken just about every dietary guideline out there during this pregnancy. I decided that common sense was better than just blanket banning everything. So I cut back on caffeine, but I didn’t cut it out altogether. When my husband would have a glass of wine (in fairness, pretty rarely) I would sneak a sip. I’ve had sushi with raw tuna a few times, but only from places I trust (I wouldn’t eat sushi from a supermarket or a food court even if it were cooked – I spent the first half of my pregnancy in Brisbane and there were some pretty nasty salmonella outbreaks during that time, including one from cooked supermarket sushi). I’ve had soft cheese (pasteurised) and pate (small amount, pasteurised).
      I’m pretty comfortable that the risks I took were extremely low.

      • Gozi
        May 31, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

        I remember witnessing a young pregnant lady being harassed by a group of females about what she was eating. She was in almost in tears. I told the group that the stress they were inflicting on her was probably worse than anything she would eat (I always saw her eat healthy lunches). Needless to say, that hen club wasn’t very happy with me.

        • Monkey Professor for a Head
          May 31, 2015 at 5:49 pm #

          The only comments I’ve gotten about what I’ve been eating whilst pregnant happened when my husband posted a picture of me having some pate on Facebook. I did get a couple of messages saying I technically shouldn’t be eating that, but they were nice in tone, and since they were from people who had some experience in the field (a friend who is an Obs and Gynae trainee and my mother who is a trained midwife) I didn’t mind.

          • Nick Sanders
            May 31, 2015 at 9:03 pm #

            You definitely shouldn’t be eating pรขtรฉ! Pรขtรฉ is liver, and liver is icky! Icky icky icky and gross!

    • Guestll
      May 29, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

      The MFM who did my CVS with my living daughter was wonderful. I threw up before and after the procedure (bad NVP) and immediately craved a tuna sandwich. Went down to the hospital lobby with my husband and grabbed a tuna Subway. MFM had left for lunch, saw us sitting on a bench, came over and asked how I was feeling. “I’m eating tuna” I blurted guiltily. She waved her hand. “Pffft, whatever you can keep down…”

    • demodocus
      May 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm #

      We were told to avoid more than 1 serving of pasturized goat cheese per week.

    • Bombshellrisa
      May 29, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

      Yes, also soft serve yogurt or ice cream, stevia, agave and sage.

      • Mattie
        May 29, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

        what’s wrong with sage, or soft serve if it’s made with pasteurised milk/cream?

        • Mishimoo
          May 29, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

          The soft serve machine may not have been properly maintained. Sage can be used for amenorrhea, so probably not the best thing to use while pregnant even though some use it for morning sickness. It also can be used for drying off lactation once the bub has weaned. (P. 453, The Earthwise Herbal, Matthew Wood, 2008)

          • Who?
            May 29, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

            Yes but does sage actually work for any of those things?

          • Mishimoo
            May 29, 2015 at 7:16 pm #

            I’m not sure, its not one I’ve heard of being used as an abortifacient before, but better safe than sorry (especially since someone decided that it was a good way to stop premature labour). Wormwood, tansy, pennyroyal, and mugwort were all used for that, but they’re generally medicinal rather than edible herbs, so less risk of someone unknowingly ingesting them and having a bad result.

          • Cobalt
            May 30, 2015 at 10:56 am #

            Sage, like wormwood, contains thujone, which can cause all sorts of issues (including death). Dose, however, is a major consideration. The amount of sage you’d have to eat is to have toxic effects is a safely huge amount.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

            I don’t know about the rest, but when I was weaning DD and wanted my supply down to 0 ASAP (she was refusing to nurse, I’d already had mastitis twice and didn’t want to try for round 3), a couple of cups of strong sage tea per day seemed to seriously reduce my supply. It was utterly foul-tasting, but better that than getting sick again.

        • Cobalt
          May 30, 2015 at 7:16 am #

          Sage has a chemical in it that interferes with sweat gland function (including milk glands), it can be strong enough to stop sweating and cause overheating. I don’t think someone would typically eat enough as a seasoning to have that effect though, the dose recommended to create that effect is 2 or 3 cups of strong tea.

          There may be other side effects also, anti-sweat is the one I know about.

          • Who?
            May 30, 2015 at 7:49 am #

            That’s quite a commitment, but hardly a risk if all you’re doing is hitting the chicken stuffing a little harder than usual.

          • Medwife
            May 30, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

            Know anything about chamomile? A hippy-dippy RN told me to avoid it in the first tri. (I did not because, meh. Never heard that one before.)

          • Megan
            May 30, 2015 at 8:44 pm #

            Yes I’ve heard that one. I can’t remember why it’s supposed to be bad at the moment though… I’ve also read to avoid green tea but I had it every day while pregnant.

          • Inmara
            May 31, 2015 at 7:15 am #

            I was really confused by chamomile mentioned in Canadian pregnancy book – apparently they are considered to be able to cause contractions of uterus. Then again, here in Latvia we are big into herbal teas (every woman can go out into meadow and pick at least dozen plants for everyday use or for specific illnesses, because they are widely used for mild cases of cold, upset stomach etc.) but chamomile is never listed as a no-go for pregnant women – instead it’s yarrow (known for causing miscarriages), oregano, lady’s mantle (Alchemilla sp.) and raspberry leaves that have to be avoided during most of pregnancy (Alchemilla and raspberry are used prior to labor).

          • Cobalt
            May 31, 2015 at 11:31 am #

            I’ve not heard any contraindications for chamomile other than allergies (it’s a daisy, and daisy pollen allergies are common if frequently respiratory specific). I avoided any “medicinal” herbs while pregnant though, because purity standards are low to non-existent. Even if chamomile is safe, I don’t REALLY know that what’s in the bag, and I know just enough to imagine terrible, if terribly unlikely, consequences.

            If you’re into the medicinal potential of herbs, the German Commission E study is a great read.

        • araikwao
          May 30, 2015 at 6:39 pm #

          Listeria in the soft serve – apparently it’s near-impossible to clean the machines well enough to ensure safety

          • Kerlyssa
            May 30, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

            Ehhh. The machines I’ve seen are not exactly hard to sanitize. It just takes a while, so it’s one of the things that gets skipped when people are shorthanded/lazy/untrained. But really, we just dismantled the innards of the chamber, washed them, swished chlorine solution around in the empty chamber, and put it back together once dry. It’s not actually necessary for the continued function of the machine(except in the very long term), or for the taste of the icecream, though, so you could probably leave the things put together for months, and yeah, that’d be a health issue.

          • araikwao
            May 31, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

            Ha ha, maybe it’s more of a realistic estimation that you can’t know how clean that particular machine will be so best avoid altogether?

      • KeeperOfTheBooks
        May 29, 2015 at 8:46 pm #

        Good gosh, even I hadn’t heard of most of those, sage excepted because of it’s anti-lactation properties.
        Again, I’m gonna have to go with “if I’d eat there non-pregnant, I’ll eat there pregnant.” Clearly that’s something that’s up to anyone to decide for themselves, but at some point or other I just have to live my life. I mean, as demonstrated by Blue Bell, the manufacturing machinery for regular ice cream might not be up to par, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop eating all ice cream while pregnant. Grrrr.

        • sdsures
          May 30, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

          I’d imagine trying to keep ice cream away from a pregnant woman would be suicide.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 31, 2015 at 10:54 am #

            A currently-pregnant friend of mine was recently moved to a new location for work. Apparently the new place has a soft serve frozen yogurt setup down the hall from her. She speaks of it with the sort of fond reverence one might ordinarily reserve for religious rites. No, I would *not* want to be the person between her and that froyo place. *shudders*

    • May 31, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

      They do now, and that is a new thing. It was not being told to us when I had my son 20 years ago. I find it utterly silly.

  6. Renee Martin
    May 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

    Women need to stop falling for this crap. Every time we have more work pushed on us, we need to look around to see if men have the same thing happening to them. If not, we can be sure its is just to keep us down.
    The 2nd wave was so successful, the backlash has been so strong. And it won’t stop until either we are pushed all the way back, or we are liberated entirely.

    • demodocus
      May 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

      Huh? I understand all the words individually but not put together as they are here.

      • May 29, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

        Not to put words in anyone’s mouth, but I read it as a criticism of these parenting fads as being misogynistic.

      • Mattie
        May 29, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

        think (as I understood it) Renee is arguing that the ‘mommy wars’ and restrictive motherhood are products of the patriarchy, and a response to second-wave feminism which made big strides in freeing women from oppressive sexual practices.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          May 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

          That was my impression, too.

    • May 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

      I think it’s less about falling for this crap and being indoctrinated.

  7. demodocus
    May 29, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    It rather bothered me to be labeled as an “elderly” mother. We conceived a month past my 36th birthday. I felt like I was being treated much as if I over 40. what magically happened 13 months earlier where my son’s risks of trisomy exploded overnight?
    Mostly, my husband is only bothered when fools think he cannot take care of our kiddo because he’s visually impaired. (And when people think he’s in his 50s. He’s 39). The blind parent thing is actually way more of a problem for him than the male parent thing. People assume I have to take care of the both of them.

    • Guestll
      May 29, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

      But you were an elderly mother (so am I). Nothing magic happened in those 13 months, it’s just that 35 serves as the sort of benchmark number for when certain risks start to climb.

      Maybe we could find a better term other than “elderly mother” but I’d rather the risks be acknowledged than not.

      • demodocus
        May 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm #

        I just wish there were a bit more of a sliding scale, you know? I gather its still safer for all concerned at 35 than at 38 than 40 than 42
        Some women are already in menopause at 36, others, like my family, have been known to have kids into their 40s the au natural way. Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma B, Great-Grandma G…

        • Guestll
          May 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

          Yes, likely not the first child, likely the one of several, with the same partner. Proven fertility. It’s not the same as trying to conceive your first at AMA.

          • demodocus
            May 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

            True enough. I still wish they’d had a bit more differentiation.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

            Why? You had your baby via ART at AMA, as did I. We got lucky. I can name at least twenty women in the same shoes who didn’t and won’t. Being called an elderly mother shouldn’t matter. Maybe there should be a rethink with respect to terminology (I had 3 miscarriages, “habitual aborter” is not so great) but it is what it is for a reason.

        • FormerPhysicist
          May 29, 2015 at 1:26 pm #

          Hunh, I just was told “AMA, you need these screenings.” When the screenings came back, the specialist went over the results with me, and we decided the risks didn’t warrant amnio. No big. Now, I did develop pre-E, and that was a big deal. I’m glad my OB was watching me carefully, because I was in bad shape by the end.

        • Alexicographer
          May 29, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

          As I understand it, the history of 35 being the “cutoff” for AMA is as follows: when amniocentesis first started being offered as a test for Downs, the point at which the risk of miscarriage following amniocentesis = the risk that a child with a mother of the age in question would have Downs, was 35. In other words, younger than that and you were more likely to have a m/c post-amnio, than to have conceived a child with Downs. So it was decided that the point at which those 2 risks became (mathematically) equal was the point at which amnio should be offered, and that became the label for when one had reached “advanced maternal age.”

          I trust the nuttiness of this is obvious — two risks being mathematically equal tells us nothing about how they should be compared, nor about how any individual woman would value each of them. All women should be advised of the relative risk of each problem and each should make her own decision about which one to accept and when.

          All that said, it does seem likely that in practice, it is useful to have some markers/cutoffs for some age-related probabilities. But the way the AMA one was (as I understand it) established strikes me as pretty absurd.

        • Medwife
          May 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

          In my practice we do follow guidelines that are different for moms 35-39 vs >/= 40. 40 and up start NSTs several weeks earlier and we recommend induction at 39 weeks much more strongly. They are two different risk categories.

    • May 29, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      I’m 28 and my doctor has warned me against using long-term birth control because I’m already at an “advanced maternal age.”

      I’m unmarried, have had a partner for less than a year and we don’t even live together, I’m between careers and getting ready for grad school, and tbf, this doctor knows that I had a full-blown mental breakdown a few months ago. She knew all this and threw the biological clock card at me because REPRODUCE OR DIE TRYIN’.

      • demodocus
        May 29, 2015 at 12:53 pm #


      • MegaMechaMeg
        May 29, 2015 at 1:06 pm #

        I am 28 and a highschool friend of mine is already going slightly nuts about advanced maternal age. I told her my husband and I are waiting two or three years before we start trying and she just about blew a gasket saying that my eggs were going to do everything but fall to dust and blow away in the wind and out baby would be ugly and stupid and it was already too late. I think we were dealing with her stuff there, but seriously I wasn’t getting too worked up until at least 33.

        • May 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

          Oh man. She really drank the kool-aid, but with nobody saying different, why shouldn’t she have? Poor thing must feel defective.

          • MegaMechaMeg
            May 29, 2015 at 4:35 pm #

            I think she is upset because her younger siblings and her emotionally significant ex boyfriends are all having kids and she is unmarried and still in school. I think if she were in my place she would already be ttc and it hit her hard that I was indifferent to my 28 year old fertility when she does not have that option. Fear of aging hits us all differently, I choose to focus on my now slightly puffier and saggier skin, she is choosing to focus on her fertility.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 4:39 pm #

            I’m 24 and ngl it worries me, I won’t be done with undergrad until I’m 27 and then I want to go to grad school…I am single, and no baby on the cards just yet. I also worry because my mum had problems getting pregnant and I am an only child, mum didn’t have me until she was 32 which isn’t exactly ‘old’ but yeh. I think talking to one of my friends who is older helped, she didn’t have her first til she was 29 and has 3 now ๐Ÿ™‚ no need for me to panic

          • Fallow
            May 29, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

            Man, 32 isn’t “exactly old”? I was 32 when I had my baby. My main ob-gyn told me she thought that 32 was a happy medium of an age to have a first baby. She definitely didn’t imply anything about my age being on the iffy side. She told me she’d like me to wait until my daughter was at least 2 years old before trying for another, so I’d be 34 at that point. Not a hint in her voice that she considered that to be ancient, either.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 5:19 pm #

            Yeh it was worded badly, it’s more that 32 is a fine age if you don’t have any problems getting pregnant, of course there’s no guarantee that she’d have had an easier time getting pregnant younger, but there is the fact she wasn’t able to have any after me =/ I want a few children, so the fact that she had a hard time having me is a worry for me, although one I do not let control me ๐Ÿ™‚

        • Cobalt
          May 29, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

          The risks of AMA get shouted about, but there’s benefits too. At 21, there may be advantages to the fetus from the mother’s age, but there are potential advantages to the born child from having a mother who has had more time to prepare (better finances, commonly).

          It’s all tradeoffs, and there are no guarantees.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 2:32 pm #

            What are the risks of AMA that get shouted about? Because all I ever heard was Down Syndrome. People talk about aneuploidy, and now autism/age of father is getting some play, but how many women are counseled or are even aware of the myriad other risks?

            Every survey on reproductive aging finds the same thing – people invariably overestimate the likelihood of pregnancy at all ages and are unaware of the precipitous rate decline in female fertility with age.

          • guest
            May 29, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

            I believe – but am too lazy to look it up right now – that AMA is also correlated with increased ceasarian birth, pre-eclampsia, and some other complications.

            I was AMA for my pregnancy. I didn’t like seeing it on the charts, but I was happy for the extra care taken with my pregnancy.

          • momofone
            May 29, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

            Those are the things I remember too (c-section, etc.) as risks of being AMA. I always thought it was funny when I saw it on my chart, but pregnancy was so long-awaited that I would have been thrilled with just about anything they wrote, as long as everything was ok (or manageable).

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 3:57 pm #

            Miscarriage, hypertension, diabetes, ectopic pregnancy, placental abnormalities, multiple pregnancy, congenital abnormalities, perinatal morbidity, perinatal mortality, maternal mortality.

            The risk of stillbirth is quite pronounced, even when other factors are controlled for, like smoking, hypertension, diabetes, etc.

            If this was ever being shouted about, to the general population, then I was not hearing it.

          • Cobalt
            May 29, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

            It’s a general “you’ll not be able to get pregnant, or stay pregnant if you manage to get pregnant, and its too dangerous for the baby, and you’ll be too exhausted from being old to take care of the kid anyway” message, with the solution being “stop whatever you’re doing and start making babies now now now”.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

            I hear you. But “40 is the new 30” and “I am super-healthy, this won’t be a problem” are also prevalent and not helpful in the least.

            The thing is, women’s peak fertility coincides with what are generally critical years for education, career advancement, self-actualization, etc. That sucks. But it is what it is. I have two grad degrees, have lived on 3 continents, have lived, loved, yadda, and if I had truly understood the risks of waiting (even though it would not have been remotely convenient to have children earlier) until I was 37 to hop on that bus, I would have made different choices. I got to be lucky, I have a child. I don’t have the 3 that I wanted and never will, and the road that got me to the one I have is one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.

          • Cobalt
            May 29, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

            I’m not saying there’s no risk. Just that women should be able to get the facts, preferably individualized to them from their doctors, without pressure or moralizing. Not society at large implying it’s the end of the world if a woman is doing something other than breeding in her 20’s. There are good reasons to wait or not wait, depending on your goals, and there’s no guarantees on any of it.

            You could have 3 kids by 25 and still go on to get a doctorate. You could decide to wait and still be as broke at 35 as you were fresh out of college. You could have blocked tubes at 18 and not be able to afford treatment until you’re 30. You could get to 35 and decide you prefer your childfree life, or deeply regret not having had kids. You could have kids early and spend your life wishing you had waited.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

            ASRM and SOGC both recommend that women who delay childbearing be counseled on the risks. The facts aren’t going to be individualized. The most salient factor with respect to achievement of pregnancy is the age of the woman. There are individual differences between women but a doctor isn’t going to know that in absence of fertility testing – and even then, it’s not always conclusive.

            You could do all of those things, and you’re right, there are no guarantees. But the one thing you can’t get back is time. We can bypass tubes, we can extract sperm, we can manipulate cycles, etc. But there’s no surefire workaround or solution to deal with the ravages of time. Not yet, anyway.

          • rh1985
            May 29, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

            Ultimately, that’s why I decided to keep, at least for the time being, my frozen embryos left from my successful cycle at age 28 (I am not infertile, I used donor sperm and wanted a single embryo transfer). I don’t think I will have more children, but if I destroy them and then change my mind in 10 years, I can never get back the embryos that were made with 28 year old eggs.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

            I don’t think the solution is stop whatever you’re doing and make babies right now. But maybe what it could be about is being aware of the risks of waiting, and acknowledging the potential impact of those risks.

            Reality is often unfair and it sucks large.

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            May 29, 2015 at 9:59 pm #

            I just started snarking at people who won’t stop harping on me about my “AMA”. At 28.

            When they list off all the risks I go “Well I’m already autistic, have several autistic family members on both sides of the family, EVERYONE on my mom’s side of the family has some kind of mental illness going back a good five generations now from what they’ve written in their journals about their health diagnoses, my husband has bipolar disorder and depression on his side, and I suspect he himself is on a higher functioning end of the autistic spectrum than I am. The AMA risks of autism are just another drop in a very full bucket. I dismissed any expectations of having a ‘normal’ child a long time ago, thank you.”

            If you couldn’t tell I’ve started to become annoyed with people taking an absurd amount of interest in ovaries that do not belong to them.

        • rh1985
          May 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

          I agree she should leave you alone about your choices, because each individual has to weigh the pros and cons of delaying TTC. I had a child in my late 20s because my priorities were maximizing my chances of a biological child and my parents, who I could see were amazing grandparents to my niece, being young enough to be similarly active with my child.

          • MegaMechaMeg
            May 29, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

            I am prioritizing my husband having a steady job when I go on maternity leave. It is probably stupid, but new motherhood is a precarious time for women and I want a solid safety net in place before I take the risk.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

            definitely not stupid, especially if you’re in America where maternity leave is a joke ๐Ÿ™

          • Amy M
            May 29, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

            Not stupid. Husband and I were already -gasp-27, when we got married. He was just starting a grad program, which lasted about 3yrs. We wanted to wait until he was done, so he’d be home more, and hopefully, be in a stable job.

            At 30, when we started ttc, we learned quickly that I am infertile (anovulatory, not POF) and that would have been a problem no matter what age I was. It took us a year to conceive, but we had twins, so I got all the childbearing done at 31, which is not exactly ancient.

            Meanwhile, husband has since gone back to school for a different grad program and we are still hoping he will find a stable job. ๐Ÿ˜› So, basically: it makes sense to be as “ready” as possible, but since you never know what life will throw you, you can never truly be ready.

        • KarenJJ
          May 29, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

          I was getting nervous about it in my late 20s (not so nervous it actually affected my choices – it was just a concern that bubbled away in the background). I suspected I was going to have problems conceiving and was right. I didn’t bring it up with anyone, but it had been on my mind. Maybe she’s thinking something similar based on her gyne history and family history?

      • Sarah1035
        May 29, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

        You might consider having your AMH and FSH tested if you do plan on putting it off much longer. Diminished ovarian reserve is real and up to 10% of women at age 30 have it. Do you know the age your mother and grandmother went through menopause? Your fertility usually tanks about 10 years before your periods stop all together. I had my first at 32 and my cycles never got back to normal. I ended up having testing done and sure enough I had it. The real kicker is it makes fertility drugs less likely to work because they can’t force you to ovulate eggs you don’t have. It took me 3 years to get pregnant with number two.

        • Megan
          May 29, 2015 at 9:04 pm #

          I thought AMH was a much better predictor of response to fertility treatments than the ability to conceive in a natural cycle? Is that not true? I’m a family doc and we don’t really order the test but I had it done and it was on the low side (age 33 at the time, now age 34 almost 35) and I’d like to try for a second but my docs are making me wait to try again until I’m a year PP due to a traumatic csection. I’m worried about my age because there’s a chance I might want three children.

          • Sarah1035
            May 29, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

            AMH as it was explained to me by my RE, is a good predictor of response and correlated to AFC or the number of follicles that enter the race to become an egg in any given month. As you have fewer total eggs your body puts out fewer follicles, so it is connected to total egg reserve as well. There is debate about if quality of eggs really falls when AMH falls or not. Most REs seem to try and steer DOR women to donor eggs because IVF is a numbers game and you just don’t get the numbers when you can only retrieve 2 eggs at a time if you are lucky. I did get pregnant naturally with my second after three years of trying with an AMH of .3, FSH of 16 and AFC of 4 at the age of 35. After I had my first at age 32 my cycle length tanked to between 14 and 20 days so I sought testing. I asked if there had ever been studies to see if woman with low AMH took longer to conceive naturally or not and he said there wasn’t much data. Did you had cycle day 3 FSH done? I’d check that too if you haven’t.

          • Guestll
            May 30, 2015 at 9:45 am #

            Very well said.

            I would caution against relying too heavily on CD 3 FSH, simply because it can fluctuate wildly for DOR women, and you are really only as “good” as your highest number. I had my CD 3 FSH measured in around 10 cycles over 2 years. It varied from 17 to a low of 5.

            With respect to quality/age, at 38 my AMH was 2.1 ng/ml and my AFC was generally in the range of 15-18 in any given cycle. My RE was doing cartwheels, since that is generally in line with the ovarian reserve of a non-DOR woman in her early 30s. I was a high responder to low dose stims, great retrievals, lovely “perfect” 5 day blastocysts…terrible quality. The only good fortune that I had was with respect to the numbers game — the more eggs, the better the chances you’ll find one good enough to do the job. So we kept at it and eventually got lucky.

            AMH, AFC, FSH, basal ovarian volume, as my RE explained, they’re all pieces in the puzzle. If one of them is “missing” then your chances of success decrease. Mine was FSH.

          • Megan
            May 30, 2015 at 10:30 am #

            I did have an FSH and it was totally normal so hopefully I can have at least a second child before my fertility tanks. I just thought I recalled seeing a study showing no correlation at all between natural cycle conception and AMH. I know my OB was t concerned about it but my RE was and tried to steer me towards IVF right away. But as soon as my thyroid was fixed and I got on a little metformin I got pregnant 3 weeks later and it stuck. So I think the IVF recommendation was a little premature. I hadn’t ever had trouble getting pregnant (I got pregnant three times in 7 months!). My trouble was staying pregnant/recurrent miscarriage. I hadn’t really thought much about my AMH since until you mentioned it and now I guess I’m just wondering if my clock is ticking a lot louder! And my OB wants me to wait until the fall to try again.

      • Medwife
        May 29, 2015 at 6:01 pm #

        I think it’s ridiculous to warn women away from LARCs at most ages, unless you’re talking Depo, which can take much longer to wear off than the others. They are REVERSIBLE. Want to conceive, have the whatever it is removed. Time will have passed and fertility may decrease over that time, but if you dont want to be pregnant now, you don’t want to be pregnant now. You need effective contraception and LARCs are great.

        • May 29, 2015 at 6:08 pm #

          Yeah, it was Depo. tbh though with an eating disorder, her knowing my sexual history (new partner, newly monogamous), and the meds I’m on, she should fuck off forever before even thinking of me entertaining the thought of children.

          • Medwife
            May 29, 2015 at 10:19 pm #

            Oo, I’d worry about depo and bone density for you, too, if you have anorexia.

            Of course we are supposed to talk about fertility when counseling a woman on birth control, but good lord, let’s try to keep it in perspective. You should be applauded for having good sense in recognizing this is a time when you need to take care of yourself, not you+baby.

          • May 29, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

            Thank you for that, no one told me that bone density would be an issue. She went straight to the babby thing and how my fertility was already in decline because of my condition.

            To be fair, she’s an immigrant from a very conservative country and a Catholic, but jeez. I’m a godless heathen American with problems, cut me a break on putting the brakes on kids lmfao.

          • Medwife
            May 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

            It hits bone mass, apparently reversibly, for everyone, but despite reversibility I’d hesitate to Rx it for someone whose BMD has already taken a hit. Take a calcium supplement!! I am a big calcium pusher, as my family is full of skinny white ladies who have bodies that tend to live into their 90s but bones that start crapping out in their 60s. Not a fun way to spend your last 20 years.

          • May 30, 2015 at 3:07 pm #

            I had no idea! That’s amazing, it was something I was really gunning for as well, it’s lucky that I didn’t end up opting for it. And I do take tons of calcium! I do roller derby and come from a long line of fragile bird people, lmfao.

            And no, definitely not a fun way to spend the last 20 or so years. Thank god for vitamins, seriously.

          • Medwife
            May 30, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

            And bisphosphenates. If (when?) I get dx’ed, I will be all over them.

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            May 31, 2015 at 1:27 am #

            Make sure your vitamin D is good too! Calcium doesn’t help if it can’t get absorbed. Plus if you get muscles aches like I did after only a short bit of excersizing it helps with that too.

            Some light weight lifting can help your bones stay strong tlk from what I understand. Even if it didnt do a ton it’s still a good thing to do.

            …and helps if your husband/boyfriend likes to tease you and takes the entire couch and when you tell him to move he says “make me.” It’s worth it to make him. Soooooo worth it.

          • June 1, 2015 at 12:15 am #

            Hahaha, thanks for the advice! ๐Ÿ™‚

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            June 1, 2015 at 11:11 am #

            Anything to torture back your partner when you both have the maturity of an eleven year old is worth it.

            As is not having a femur neck break. My great grandma got one of those just from standing up wrong in her 80s. Her osteoporosis was sooooo bad. Sure scared me into keeping my bone density at good levels.

            Seriously if you need motivation, volunteer at an old folk’s skilled nursing care facility. You’ll find motivation for a lot of preventative measures.

      • FEDUP MD
        May 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm #

        That’s…. nuts.

        As a physician I only have one colleague who gave birth under the age of 30, and she was 29. I am 36 with 2 kids and I have lots of same age colleagues pregnant or just having their first, at 35-37.

        I had my first at 32 (right before my 33rd birthday) and my second at 35 (just after my 35th). When I mentions being “old” at 31 when we first discussed getting pregnant my OB laughed out loud. When I mentioned it again at 34 for my second again laughter and just recommendation I probably try to get pregnant in the next 2 years.

        I got pregnant at the drop of a hat. Repeatedly. I have had two miscarriages prior to my first baby which were early and due to chromosomal issues, but as soon as I physically recovered and emotionally was ready I typically got pregnant within 1-2 months of trying. I got a positive pregnancy test with my last AMA pregnancy about 2 weeks after deciding to have a baby.

    • just me
      May 29, 2015 at 1:28 pm #

      So yeah, as a mom who had her kids at 42 and 44 I take offense to your reference to 40 as ancient.

      • Medwife
        May 29, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

        You weren’t ancient but you were high risk, no sense pretending otherwise, right?

      • demodocus
        May 29, 2015 at 5:58 pm #

        Sarcasm; I like ๐Ÿ˜‰ I wouldn’t dare say 40 was ancient. Mom and youngest aunt would kill me for thinking that, since they had kids at 42, too. You were at higher risk than you would have been at 36, though.

        • just me
          June 1, 2015 at 1:20 pm #

          Of course the risk of chrom probs is higher, as is the risk of infertility. Which is why I’m troubled when I see all these comments by women who act like it’s feminist to say what, me worry? I’m only xx years old.

          No, my comment was more that I am very sensitive to the stigma against older parents, and I read it as “it’s not like I’m trying to have kids in my 40s. Ick.”

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            June 1, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

            My issue is that I’m 28 and people, not doctors, are telling me I’m AMA.

            No. I’m not. Let doctors focus on people that are actually AMA so they can get the care they need. That’s my issue.

            Not a feminist thing at all, just finding it odd to focus on the older twenty somethings and start screaming that I need all these extrenous tests and more doctor time when the actual high risk people need the additional screening and attention more. Doctor’s only have so much time and I don’t want to take time from someone who is by default high risk with AMA. Or a young high risk patient like a diabetic or transplant patient.

            If it ends up that I don’t get pregnant until I’m 35 or have my second kid around that time then I’ll throw myself into the default high risk category.

    • DiomedesV
      May 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

      As Alexicographer stated below, 35 was designated AMA several years ago because it represented the concordance between the risk of having a child with Down syndrome and the risk of losing a pregnancy after amniocentesis when Downs was suspected. The risk of miscarriage following amniocentesis is now lower, and varies considerably by the clinic doing the procedure (ASK your clinic before you do it). However, the risks of various problems in pregnancy do go up with age, and there is no point in getting offended by that.

    • demodocus
      May 29, 2015 at 5:59 pm #

      I’m probably just a twit.

      • Medwife
        May 29, 2015 at 10:15 pm #

        You’re not a twit! It does feel weird to get a label like “advanced maternal age” when you are certainly not elderly. I’m pushing AMA myself but I don’t FEEL it. I don’t feel bad about it though, it probably helps that I see so many extremely unhealthy teens and young adults.

    • Toni
      May 30, 2015 at 11:59 am #

      I’m having my 4th child, EDD is 3 weeks after my 35th b-day. I’m AMA.


      Had I conceived two months earlier, I’d be low risk. But, then, they have to put the cut-off somewhere and there will always be some people who fall on the cusp.

      I’ll be sure to bring my walker and geritol to L&D when the time comes. And let them know they better deliver this baby quick before dementia sets in and I can’t remember why I”m at the hospital!

    • SporkParade
      May 31, 2015 at 10:33 am #

      Just saw this. I definitely feel you as someone who was told to break up with her husband while we were still dating due to [increasingly hysterical responses to visual impairment here].

      • demodocus
        May 31, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

        My brother’s father thought I was being philanthropic for dating my husband, lol.

    • sdsures
      June 2, 2015 at 2:21 pm #

      That would piss me off, too!

  8. Zoey
    May 29, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    While I have only ever encountered a few, the fathers that I know that really buy into and promote AP and intensive mothering parenting practices make me so irrationally angry. I’ve met a few that paternalistically lecture women about the importance of breastfeeding or co-sleeping, or brag about talking their wives out of accessing pain relief in childbirth. A lot like the Sears family male doctors, actually, except more annoying because their only experience is with watching their partners do these things.

    I feel like these intensive mothering ideas make me uncomfortable enough when they are discussed among women, but hearing that I should do them coming from a man seems to lay the underlying sexism so much more bare.

    • MegaMechaMeg
      May 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

      I had a male coworker with a fresh two day old baby at home tell me once that he thought pain relief in labor should be illegal because “his wife did it and it didn’t seems that bad and after all, we don’t know everything and it could be bad for the baby in ways we don’t know about” If I had not been 22 and meek at the time I would have lost my shit.

      • DelphiniumFalcon
        May 29, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

        Tangentially related, but have you seen that video of the two guys hooked up to the muscle stimulators to simulate labor? My parents couldn’t stop laughing. I feel bad laughing at someone else’s pain but it is just that hysterical.

        Dad didn’t tell mom what to do with birth besides “Please don’t die” because her body gave that the good college try with my sister’s birth. She didn’t do so hot during mine before that either. And so he basically said “Two is good. I wanted girls, I got girls. I know we said five kids but I don’t want you to die so I’m going to go make sure we only have the two because the last thing you need after what you went through is surgery.”

        He was in pretty bad shock after my sister was born because of how bad of shape Mom was in. The doctor asked him if he wanted to cut the cord while he was all shaken up and he blurted out “Hell no! Are they not paying you enough?!”

        We still haven’t let him live that down.

        • DelphiniumFalcon
          May 31, 2015 at 1:36 am #

          My husband has let me know that when they’re doing all the bloody clean up, he’s going to go “make you a sammich” because I deserve it after all that hard work. Then after there’s less blood he’ll exchange the baby with the sammich and hold baby for a while.

          He hates blood so much. XD

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            June 1, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

            DH doesn’t mind blood, but with the next one he’s getting sent off for a giant smoked-salmon-and-cream-cheese bagel with an equally giant latte on the side for yours truly. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s an AWESOME bagel place in the hospital that I discovered while I was pregnant with DD, and their smoked salmon bagels are to die for. Mmmm, now I’m hungry…

        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          June 1, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

          Ha! He sounds like my DH. When I was pregnant with DD, I asked him if he wanted to cut the cord. (I didn’t care one way or the other, but if he wanted to I didn’t want to take that away from him.) He, being the first of his friends to have kids, gave me the weirdest look and said, “Um, isn’t that what we’re paying the doctor for?”

    • MHAM
      May 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

      I am so with you on this. It creeps me the hell out when a dude gets going on this stuff. We’ve been seeing a lot less of a couple we’ve been friends with for years because they drank this Kool-Aid in major way when they became parents. The wife is bad enough but the husband is awful. Him lecturing my husband and I on the superiority of the Bradley method during our pregnancy…no words. (Especially coming from a dude with NO children and no experience of labor at all, to a couple who were already parents at the time.)

  9. Rita Rippetoe
    May 29, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    While older women who become or wish to become pregnant are routinely warned of the dangers of Down Syndrome and other disorders that can be blamed on aging eggs only recently has any research been done on whether older men may produce defective sperm. There are studies, and there is a known risk, but it certainly is not publicized or subject to public scrutiny to the same extent as the studies on women. Men don’t face the same kind of scoldings for marrying when older and starting families, or second families.

    • guest
      May 29, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      We have just started to see reporting on links between older sperm and increased autism. So there’s that.

    • demodocus
      May 29, 2015 at 11:59 am #

      We had to see a geneticist, because of my age and our family cancer histories. When I mentioned something about my husband’s age (1yr older than me) she said that he didn’t count.

    • Daleth
      May 29, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

      Honestly, though, part of the reason the paternal health risks get less PR is that the risks posed by older sperm are much lower (in terms of their frequency) than the risks posed by older eggs. The risk of a man having a child with autism–which is the one condition with the most studies supporting a link to paternal age–is 3.5 times greater at age 45 than at age 24 (see link 1). But the risk of a woman having a child with Down’s syndrome is FIFTY-SIX times higher at age 45 than at 24 (link 2). And it’s not 56 times some tiny number, resulting in a larger but still tiny number–the risk of DS in a 45yo woman is 1 in 25, or 4%, which by most people’s standards is pretty high.

      Link 1: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/10663832/Children-of-older-fathers-at-risk-of-low-IQ-autism-and-suicide.html

      Link 2: http://www.ds-health.com/risk.htm

    • Guestll
      May 29, 2015 at 12:41 pm #

      No, men don’t, because the risks aren’t as significant. Nor are women and men adequately informed of the risks of delayed childbearing (the most significant being infertility), but that’s a whole other ball of wax.

  10. Amy M
    May 29, 2015 at 11:27 am #

    Even worse, some of the women who perpetuate the “ideal mother” trope, specifically cut fathers out of the equation. They decide that men are incompetent in the home and don’t know their way around babies. In some cases, the father is outright discouraged from being involved with his children, or the mother won’t leave the kids alone with dad because he might do something “wrong” (like give them mac’n’cheese for lunch). Since co-sleeping is the gold standard for extreme AP, too bad for dad if he doesn’t like it. “Mama” knows best of course, and if dad is unhappy, well, he can sleep on the couch.

    And then, when they see dads interacting with their children successfully, suddenly those men are SUPER-dads, because they were able to get the kids to school without anyone dying, something many moms do every day and no one mentions it. Or [the ideal mom women] decide that dad is merely babysitting, how cute! Or on the other end of the spectrum,actual SAHDs that they see out in public with children, are threats—possible sexual predators. Dad can’t win—in that mindset, there’s no such thing as egalitarian parenting.

    • momofone
      May 29, 2015 at 11:38 am #

      This is one reason that my husband, a SAHD, will not approach a child who appears lost/scared/etc. if he is out with our son; he will call security (in a store) but feels too uncomfortable to approach, while I am more uncomfortable not approaching. His take: “But you’re a mom; moms can do that.”

      I have known of several “mamas” who do actually put dad out of bed so that he doesn’t interfere with her interaction with baby. I know of a couple who “agreed” (I’m not sure how mutual it actually was) that dad would sleep in a separate bedroom until their youngest child was weaned (expectation was around 3) so that “mama” could do her thing and he’d be “out of the way.” How in the hell it gets to the point where a father is “in the way” if he’s being a parent is beyond me.

      • DelphiniumFalcon
        May 29, 2015 at 11:45 am #

        I really don’t understand the concept of pushing the man out of the picture if you went into this together. That baby is his child too. He should be able to bond with them as a parent as well. Parenting, like marriage, if you’re in it together should be a partnership.

        My dad loved being involved with my sister and I. He brushed our hair, braided it all sorts of cute ways, put the sponge curlers in after a bath if we wanted them, put the ribbons in our hair, painted our fingernails, all the girly stuff we wanted to do. Since there was just my sister and I, Mom could be doing the same thing at the same time with my sister or me. We loved those times together. I wouldn’t want my dad muscled out of that picture.

        • momofone
          May 29, 2015 at 11:53 am #

          I agree. When I was involved in LLL, a frequent question was about what to do when husband/partner/significant other 1) believed mother should stop breastfeeding (usually due to age of the child) and/or 2) wanted to be able to sleep in the adult bed again–and maybe even to have sex! I was always surprised to see how many people said something like “You tell him this is between two people, and he is not one of them!” and discounting the partner’s perspective altogether (and making a desire for sex into a sign of shallowness and Not Understanding Because He Is Not a Mother).

          • demodocus
            May 29, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

            Meanwhile, in Daddy boot camp, they are taught the basics of diapering and what to do if the kiddo is crying. and how to check for ppd, I imagine.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 29, 2015 at 9:37 pm #

            When I taught boot camp, we never talked “the basics of diapering.” We talked about diaper options like cloth very disposable and how to find the right diapers and right size

          • demodocus
            May 29, 2015 at 10:50 pm #

            Apparently, the baby in the room needed a change so they did see it happen. At least that’s the feeling my dearest got, ‘though he’s blind so he could be mistaken. He was a bit fuzzy on some details.
            The right size diaper is a basic!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            May 30, 2015 at 10:17 am #

            If one of the dad’s with babies babies need changing, they get changed right there, but it’s not anything specific. Guys can watch if they want. The nurses at the hospital general insist that dad change a diaper before they go

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

            *snort* Indeed. Yes, how dare my spouse want to spend time with me. The horror.
            DD slept in our room until she was 3 months old. DH couldn’t sleep in the same room as DD because I was using a white noise machine to encourage her to stay asleep, and the white noise *really* bothered him. As a result, he chose to sleep on the couch. This bothered me far more than him, oddly enough. Even though I knew it was about the white noise and not about me, I couldn’t get over that not only had that pregnancy/postpartum period really done a number on my body, my husband wasn’t sleeping with me anymore. When I told the pediatrician that this whole she-sleeps-in-our-room thing was getting really hard on us, she very sensibly said to move DD to her own room at that point. I was initially shocked, but that first night of being able to talk to my husband in our room, turn on lights if we had to, take a shower in our own bathroom, etc was AMAZING. Next time around, the new baby will be with us for the first six weeks or until he/she’s sleeping through a decently long patch at night, and then in with DD he/she’ll go.

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            May 29, 2015 at 10:21 pm #

            Dude I don’t care if I’m exhausted from baby time. Sometimes you just need a good roll in the hay to release some tension and reconnect with your spouse. Not shallow at all!

            I don’t get that… How the hell do they think the baby got in there in the first place? How are they supposed to have another one to add to the crunchy brood? Are all children after the first produced from stored sperm like termites?

          • momofone
            May 30, 2015 at 11:57 am #

            Exactly! I wanted to stay connected with my husband–he’s incredible, and that’s why I wanted to have a family with him.

          • sdsures
            May 31, 2015 at 12:21 pm #


        • Kelly
          May 29, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

          They would deem me lazy because I have expectations that my husband would be involved because I refuse to do it by myself. I get overwhelmed easily. Sure, I can push through, but that will make me a pretty crappy person and parent. Thus, my husband helps even after a long day at work.

        • FrequentFlyer
          May 30, 2015 at 11:39 am #

          My dad was a wonderful father to two girls also. He wasn’t good with braids, but he did a lot of other things with us. I will always be grateful for the way he passed on his love of reading and learning, and fishing:). He taught me the basics of car care and self defense so that when I was on my own I wouldn’t be helpless. The relationship with my dad was one of the most important parts of my life. He and my mother TOGETHER laid a solid foundation for my sister and me to build our lives on. They each brought different things to the table and we needed both. I miss my dad and I would never try to minimize my husband’s role in our boys’ lives. He is to important too them and they are too important to him. These mothering obsessed women think they are perfect and doing everything in the children’s best interest, but really they are selfish and cruel.

      • Amy M
        May 29, 2015 at 11:50 am #

        Yeah, my husband is very involved with our children, and has been a SAHD on and off. Since he’s always worked in a school (teaching, now guidance counseling), he has summers off, which is a HUGE help. He’s an excellent father, but he can’t stand it when women either think he’s “babysitting” or super-dad for doing what any mother would do.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          May 29, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

          Indeed! Once I stopped breastfeeding and was therefore able to leave the house by myself for more than half an hour, I found myself annoyed when someone would ask, “Oh, so (DH’s name) is babysitting? Wow, he’s amazing!” Well, I agree he’s amazing, and it is great that we’ve worked out a plan in which I get time outside the house to myself and he does too, but he’s DD’s *dad.* Having him spend a few hours one-on-one with her every week isn’t exactly unreasonable, and she’s as much his responsibility as mine, so “babysitting?” No. He’s taking care of his kid, just like I do when he goes to work.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

            Yeh, when you look after her you’re not ‘babysitting’ so why would he be…

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

            Because dads aren’t expected to be caregivers, so if they do, it’s totally above and beyond. (Their idea, not mine.)
            I’m reminded of a scene from one of the Miss Read books, set in the ’70s or so in a small village in England. In one of them, a group of women is meeting for something or another at the schoolhouse one evening. One of them says, quite seriously and without a trace of sarcasm, that her husband was very nice about her going to this meeting and taking the kids with her though it’s well past their bedtime, saying that, “You go along to the meeting, love, and I’ll just sit here with the paper. You can even wait to do the dishes until you get back.” The protagonist, a single, well-educated schoolteacher, marvels silently at the ridiculousness of a situation in which he can’t even be expected to sit in the same house as his own sleeping kids.

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            May 29, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

            You’re nicer than me. I would have said, “No, he’s parenting. Like parents do.”

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

            Well, it often comes from genuinely sweet old ladies who didn’t have that as SOP in their generation, so I don’t want to bite their heads off. If it was coming from a “you horrible mom leaving your poor husband to take care of your DD for a few hours, he’s a saint but how will he ever manage” point of view, I’d probably reply exactly like that. ๐Ÿ˜€

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            May 29, 2015 at 10:47 pm #

            I live in the Armageddon of mommy wars because Utahns have so many kids. Most if the time I hear it from women near my age with a child attached them to said to another woman that doesn’t have her kid with her. Like a veiled insult.

            Mommy wars suck.

          • Kelly
            May 30, 2015 at 4:22 pm #

            Agh, it is different out in the east. The men are expected to take care of the kids while we have meetings for our callings and/or do our callings. (well lets just say that I see it a lot) We will get one kid in nursery right before we have another one. Someone asked what we would be doing and I told them that it is my husband’s responsibility to take care of the new baby. I am not responsible for either of my children for those two hours, they have to talk to my husband.I am too busy and he is also their parent.

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            June 1, 2015 at 11:25 am #

            It’s a crap shoot on if you’ll run into it up North. They’re learning down here after some of the helicopter moms have had children grow up to have issues. Like not being able to feed themselves properly because they never learned to cook. Or be able to go to the doctor by themselves and keep track of their insurance cards and driver’s license or even the doctor that ordered their lab work at thirty five years old!

            It’s a sad, sad thing to see.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        May 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

        Because apparently, according to these women, men are good as money earners and sperm doners and thats it…The feminist Breeder comes to mind….

        • momofone
          May 29, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

          Exactly–clearly any man who approaches a child who is lost and afraid must be up to no good.

          • Kelly
            May 29, 2015 at 1:17 pm #

            That is so sad. I let my daughter talk and go over to a man on the plane the other day while I tended to the over tired baby. I was more nervous that she would annoy him than the fact that he was a man. He was super nice and helped me when I really needed it. If I have a thought that it might be weird, I try to assess the situation as if it were a female and then make my decisions based on that. I am not saying that there are not times that I should not trust my instincts and that there are not dangerous situations, but the vast majority of situations are fine. I would rather hone my instincts than my paranoia.

      • Laura
        May 29, 2015 at 1:50 pm #

        Just like how the husband has absolutely no say in where the mother gives birth since SHE is the one giving birth, not him. Sure lady, and how did you get pregnant in the first place? Humans aren’t capable of asexual reproduction, you know.

      • MHAM
        May 29, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

        I will admit, I coach my three year old to look for a woman with children for help if she is lost. It’s just an easier rule to make than trying to explain nuances of this to a very young child. But my husband is also cautious for the same reason as your husband – he doesn’t want to frighten people or make them uncomfortable. He has in the past alerted security and then just hovered in the general area protectively until help arrived.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks
          May 29, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

          Smart guy. Honestly, even as a woman, when I was working retail and we’d get periodic Code Adam runs (it’s a program where store personnel are taught to shut down the store and do an area-by-area search for a lost/potentially kidnapped child), I still wouldn’t touch a kid I found. I had this happen a few times, as I worked in a department where kids tended to go if they wandered off from mom or dad. I’d find a kid matching the description of the lost kid by a display, squat down next to them, ask “Are you (kid’s name)? Your mom is looking for you,” and then call management, who would have the mom with them, to my location. Instinct said to pick up the kid or take their hand, but even with cameras watching, I’d worry about what some insane parent might claim I was doing.
          Lest anyone think this sound paranoid, I had a coworker once save a kid’s life when he tried to climb over the edge of a balcony overlooking the second floor. The mom was on her cell phone and oblivious. Coworker grabbed the kid’s belt as he went over the edge, hauled him back, and told him not to do that again. Mom called the cops to report that her kid had been “touched” by coworker. (Mom was angry and embarrassed by the kid showing up her lack of parenting, and was taking it out on the coworker.) This all happened in front of cameras, so coworker got off with a “nice job” from the cop while mom got a “get your head out of your phone and watch your damn kid,” but if it hadn’t happened in front of cameras, she could have gotten in serious trouble.

        • Amy M
          May 29, 2015 at 9:18 pm #

          I also tell my children to look for a woman with children, if they get lost or need some kind of help and my husband or I am not around. However, I don’t assume that a man at the park with his children is a sexual predator.

      • Hannah
        May 29, 2015 at 8:42 pm #

        Oh geeze. I had to pull my husband back from intervening once when we saw a kid we thought was lost (if he was, he luckily was found before he noticed!). I know his intentions were right, but a lady seeing a strange man talking to her kid is a recipe for disaster. It’s like the blog on Schroedinger’s Rapist, but with predators. Luckily the moment he realised why I pulled him back is the moment it got completely through to him. Now we have agreed in advance, if we do see a situation like a lost kid, I approach and he goes for security/police/employee. It’s sad it comes to that, but better to be safe.

        I can’t imagine throwing the dad out of bed for baby. It’s not uncommon for dads to feel a bit left out when kids appear, but that’s just shoving it in his face that he’s no longer relevant! Personally, I’d kinda like to start having kids before he switches from night shift back to days… it’ll mean he can take the kid on weekends while I get a couple full nights’ sleep!

    • just me
      May 29, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

      Yes but something like 99.9% of predators/pedophiles are male.

      • Mattie
        May 29, 2015 at 1:37 pm #

        I feel like this statistic may not be entirely accurate. Yes, potentially more men are sexual predators than women, but there’s also a need to treat men with children the same way you would treat a woman with a child. My parents taught me when I was little that if I was lost or in trouble I should get help from either a police officer or a grown-up with a child/children. It’s about risk assessment, you can assess all men as being a threat or you can try and look at the whole picture.

        The idea that ‘99.9% of men are sexual predators’ is incredibly anti-feminist because it’s also saying that only women can be trusted with children.

        • May 29, 2015 at 1:54 pm #

          99% of predators are men, not 99% of men are predators. But either way, you are exactly right.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

            yes, gosh I really have left my brain at home haha that’s what I meant, I do think there’s a real problem with the way society views women as ‘incapable’ of being sexual predators, I think children/young people who come forward after being abused by women are less likely to be believed. I don’t have stats to hand, but it’s especially highlighted in situations of ‘teacher-student’ abuse, a male teacher is often vilified, a female teacher gets all the comments saying that ‘it’s a teenage boy’s dream’ or ‘women can’t abuse men’. Add that to the way everyone assumes women are all about the maternal instincts and caring, and it’s a huge and sexist problem.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

            Indeed. I once read a blog post by a guy who’d been in law enforcement for 30+ years. He addressed exactly this problem. At some point, he had to arrest a teacher in that kind of situation…with a TWELVE YEAR OLD. Even then, several of the guys in the squad room were making comments about how “lucky” the kid was. That is, until the blogger in question said, “So, Tim, you’ve got a twelve-year-old daughter, right? What would you do if she was having sex with her math teacher?” “I’d kill the SOB!” “Right. So how is this different, exactly?”

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

            and that is exactly why we need feminism!

          • May 29, 2015 at 3:12 pm #

            It really is, yes. Even if you don’t believe that women can be offenders, it’s pertinent to remember how many of them do commit sex crimes to appease their partners.

        • just me
          May 29, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

          I work in the criminal justice system. Frankly, I would not trust my children to be *alone* with most men. I don’t think that is at all unfeminist. I wouldn’t trust my kids to be alone with most women that I don’t know either. But I would be much less trusting of strange men. And that includes teachers sport coaches etc. sorry. My kids come before giving males the benefit of the doubt.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

            I find that sort of paranoid, but then you work in an environment where you see a lot of bad things on a daily basis, and are more likely to think the worst in situations where others would not. As you said, you’d feel similarly (although perhaps not to the same extent) about your children being alone with strange women, so it’s not so much that you inherently trust all women and mistrust all men.

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm #

            Not much research has been done on female pedophiles, but what’s out there suggests that they are far more common than the stats would suggest. They are probably largely underreported, for a variety of reasons.

            “I wouldn’t trust my kids to be alone with most women that I don’t know either. But I would be much less trusting of strange men. And that includes teachers sport coaches etc. sorry. My kids come before giving males the benefit of the doubt.” – Agreed.

          • momofone
            May 29, 2015 at 3:45 pm #

            Based only on my own experience, I think female pedophiles are much more common than we (general we) tend to think. I have worked with almost as many people who have been sexually abused by females as by males, and some of the most horrific abuse was committed by females.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 3:53 pm #

            That’s what we learnt looking at crime stats in sociology, I think my point is that the difference is not so great that we should be trusting of women more than men.

            Also I think it’s very very important to remember that sexual offences are more often committed by people known to the victim, and that while ‘stranger danger’ is very important, it’s just as valuable to teach children that they need to talk to you about things that hurt them, and that you will love them no matter what.

            Being super wary of strangers is not the best risk management strategy, although undeniably the easiest to teach.

          • momofone
            May 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

            I am not a fan of teaching fear. To me it makes more sense to teach what Kelly said below–honing instincts, and paying attention to them, not honing paranoia. I don’t want my son to be afraid to go out into the world because there’s someone waiting behind every tree to hurt him; I want him to feel confident that he can trust his gut. This is much easier said than done, but I want him to embrace the world, not fear it. More people will help than hurt.

          • Mattie
            May 29, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

            Yes, same, or rather that’s how I feel about it now (ask me when I have kids, I am turn full on neurotic helicopter mum…I hope not). It’s the same principle for telling women to ‘not go out alone at night’ yes it is sensible, but sometimes you have to go somewhere alone and it’s better that you’re able to stay calm and have some strategies to deal with potential issues than are so nervous you lose all ability to rationalise

          • Guestll
            May 29, 2015 at 4:36 pm #

            Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me in the least. Ugh all around.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            June 1, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

            Yep. I went through training through my church on how to keep kids safe from pedophiles, or at least as safe as possible. (You can’t prevent everything, of course, but common sense tactics will cut down on this stuff considerably just by removing most opportunities.)
            One of the things that the trainer talked about was that there are a lot more female pedophiles out there than you’d think from watching the news, and that this is often very helpful for female pedophiles because kids are taught almost to the point of instinct to trust women more than men in these scenarios. There’s also still this implicit idea in a lot of society that in the case of a female pedophile abusing a girl, it “doesn’t count”/”isn’t like she had sex with a man, which would be more wrong” in some way, while a woman in authority who has sex with a minor (especially post-pubescent/teenage) boy is often just seen as being seduced by this boy–and the boy is therefore seen as being “more” of a “man” by having sex with an older woman. Disgusting, sexist, and ridiculous.

        • DelphiniumFalcon
          May 29, 2015 at 10:12 pm #

          Good advice. I’m stealing it for any children I might have.

      • May 29, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

        What does that have to do with it, though? If you treat your partner like a potential predator without reason, you’re raising a child in a climate of fear. If otherwise, you’re raising them with a partner you suspect is a predator, which is its own obvious problem.

  11. May 29, 2015 at 11:11 am #


  12. sdsures
    May 29, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    Where are the restrictions on what men can consume, justified by the desire to keep their sperm safe for maximum fertility?”

    One argument for this could be that women (usually) release only one egg per month, so eggs are seen as being more of a valuable commodity (hence if women are paid more than men for egg donation vs sperm donation, because the men’s procedure is far less complicated and can be performed ๐Ÿ˜‰ themselves ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). Whereas sperm number in the billions (?), and only ONE of them has to be healthy enough to get to the egg at the right time and fertilize it. Unused sperm are either ejaculated or reabsorbed without much fuss at all. It doesn’t matter if all the rest of the sperm, or even a good number of them, had defects, so long as a healthy sperm makes it to the egg.

    Example: let’s say we have a heterosexual couple undergoing fertility treatments. Each month that they fail to conceive, is often felt much more of a falure by the woman because she has a limited number of eggs (assuming for the moment that she is ovulating regularly, and the eggs are defect-free), and she may worry that she’s running out of time to be able to conceive (in the larger span of fertility during her life before menopause).

    The man, on the other hand, has a seemingly endless and ready supply of sperm (again, assuming there are no defects). So he may feel less anxiety about their infertility because he knows there are always more sperm from where they came from, rather than the limited number of eggs.

    • guess
      May 29, 2015 at 10:57 am #

      This argument assumes that the healthiest sperm will always be the one that fertilizes the egg, but this simply isn’t true. Weak swimmers are unlikely to make it to an egg in natural insemination, but strong swimmers can still contain defects.

      I don’t think it helps a man much to know he has an unlimited number of sperm if the sperm’s only chance is meeting that one egg released per month (usually just one). Great, he’s got a ton more where that came from. But his partner doesn’t, so it doesn’t help him, does it?

      And there are couples whose fertility problems lie entirely with the male. In spite of however many millions of sperm he may be able to produce, there may be only a very few capable of creating a healthy embryo. So who feels like a “failure” is really going to depend on the RE’s diagnosis of the problem in your scenario.

      There is some public discussion of what men should do and eat for their fertility (example: http://www.parents.com/getting-pregnant/trying-to-conceive/tips/better-babymaking-sperm-healthy/) but as Dr. Amy points out, they have never faced the kind of pressure women do to “optimize” fertility and infant health.

      • Amy
        May 29, 2015 at 11:05 am #

        And further, men aren’t seen as failures or psychologically defective if they don’t want children. Women still are.

    • DelphiniumFalcon
      May 29, 2015 at 11:37 am #

      A lot if outside factors can influence the quality of sperm though. We don’t harp on men about it like we do women.

      We tell women don’t eat too much soy because it has estrogenic effects, don’t eat too much gluten because it can cause fertility problems (what?), don’t get in the hot tub, don’t go near the microwave, excersize more, don’t excersize too much, restrict your calorie intact, don’t restrict your calorie intake. Don’t eat sushi even if you’re just trying to conceive, eat more fish but not this kind of fish because it has mercury. Seaweed is good for you and high in vitamins so yku should eat lots of it. Seaweed could be contaminated by the Fukushima daiichi disaster and has too much iodine, don’t eat it! I could go on.

      Men? Don’t put the laptop over your nuts and don’t smoke are about the only ones I hear besides the occasional “switch to boxers.”

      Smoking can decrease sperm quality, there’s emerging but as of yet not unequivocally proven evidence that older fathers are a risk factor for having a child with autism or schizophrenia, diet is a factor, certain medications can effect the quality, alcohol, excersize affects this. But these don’t come up until there are issues in trying to conceive and the woman has go through every test under the sun and gone over with a fine tooth comb before it’s considered that the issue -might- lie with the man. Then to change those factors is an inconvenience for the man. It’s an expectation for the woman.

      It puts a lot of stress on women and culturally in many parts of the world, not just our familiar Western influenced one, a woman that is trying to conceive but is unable to or unable to carry to term is looked down upon. Dysfunctional, broken, damaged goods, not good wife material, and so on are labels they get applied and whispered rumours about something she did wrong start flying about why she can’t have children. Because it must be her fault someone how. She’s the one who gets pregnant.

      It happens to me a lot. “Why don’t you have children?” “My husband and I aren’t ready yet. We’re thinking of starting to try next year.” “Well if you don’t hurry you’ll lose your window of opportunity!” “We’ve already dealt with that possibility. I might not be able to have children at all and he knew that when he married me.” “Well if you were able to and now you can’t he’s going to resent you when you’re in your forties and you don’t have children!”

      For the record, I’m twenty eight. I have severe endometriosis and a whole host of health problems. I could get pregnant right away when we start trying. That’d be awesome. It might not ever happen for us. We’ve accepted that possibility. But because I’m being realistic that biological children might not be in the cards for us, I’m a terrible woman. No, I’m being realistic and not judging the worth of my marriage on if I can bear children or not.

      If we can’t have kids and if adoption doesn’t work out, we decided we’ll just be the crazy cat couple. And spoil any nieces and nephews we may have completely rotten.

      • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
        May 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

        This was me and my husband. People just could not understand that , while we wanted kids, we did not feel it was the end of the world if kids were not possible. And after 10 years and 2 miscarriages, we just figured it wasn’t in the cards.
        (had 2 cats by then, on my way to crazy cat lady status, Yay me!)
        I ended up pregnant a third time, assumed I would lose that one too…and had a normal pregnancy. My “surprise” baby is now 20. She is awesome, but if we did not have her we would still be a happy family, just a different family.
        We did discuss adoption, fostering, etc. But being from a family were my grandparents and parents fostered and adopted kids, it is not for everyone. It is beyond heartbreaking to have a child who has been a member of your family for years, leave. Sometimes to go back to a situation you are afraid is going to end very badly. I think foster parents are great but I could not go through that again.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          May 29, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

          Funniest question (which I got all the time for years after the Spawn was born): So when are you having another one? You don’t want her to be an only child do you?
          My answer – When a star rises in the East…or sometimes Ummm never?

          • demodocus
            May 29, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

            Currently, I’m going with “No I don’t want him to be an only child. Do you have $15 grand you could give me for another round of IVF?” Tends to shut them up.

          • guest
            May 29, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

            I get praised all the time for having a boy and a girl at the same time “so now you’re done!” This comes from strangers, not my friends and family. There’s just an assumption out there that everyone wants one boy and one girl, and that’s it. What I *actually* wanted was one child and no more. For me, it was mainly for financial reasons, and yes, most children love the idea of siblings (until they have one), but what about if I had wanted three children? Or two girls, or two boys instead of one of each?

          • demodocus
            May 29, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

            I hear you. I always wanted 3 kids, but that’s likely not in the cards. My sister only wanted 1 (who she got after a series of miscarriages) and a close friend is childfree (though she enjoys playing with mine for a few hours at a time). Another friend is quite pleased with her 4, though she gets a lot of “Now that you have the girl you were obviously trying for…” *eye roll*

          • KeeperOfTheBooks
            May 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

            I really do loathe the implication that your family is somehow incomplete unless you have one of each. Are they Pokรฉmon cards or kids?
            Also, just how do you (“you” in the general sense, not specific!) think the older two or three same-sex siblings feel about overhearing that question, which they inevitably will at some point? “Oh, mom and dad only had me because they were trying to get a girl, so they don’t really love me.” Awwwwwwwesome.
            That’s all apart from the rant about how it’s considered socially acceptable to ask anyone, even random strangers, about their sex lives and reproductive plans, but that’s a rant for another day.
            Then, too, there’s the assumption that everyone’s family is supposed to look exactly the same, and that everyone wants their family to be exactly the same as (the often mythical) “everyone else.” Grrrrr.

          • Amy M
            May 29, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

            My twins are identical boys and when they were babies, people kept asking us if we were going to try for a girl. I wasn’t really offended, but a little incredulous, since most of our friends and immediate family knew we did IVF and even if we wanted more children there was no guarantee we could have them. Not to mention we only wanted 2 children, and we got them, and we didn’t really care about the sex. I have only one sister—the lack of a brother never did me harm.

          • DelphiniumFalcon
            May 29, 2015 at 10:36 pm #

            I think I love your for that Song of Ice and Fire reference lol.

            And yeah the adoption process not working out worries me. When it looked like my parents wouldn’t be able to have kids at all they tried the adoption route. They had three adoptions fall through at the last minute because the moms decided to keep the babies. Mom said she just couldn’t do it a fourth times and they resigned themselves to being childless.

            Then I decided to finally show up!

            I’m afraid the same thing would happen to me that happened to them. I don’t know how many times I could deal with that.

      • demodocus
        May 29, 2015 at 12:24 pm #

        Good luck with whatever happens. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish you every happiness. My dad and favorite aunt are both adopted ‘though I imagine it was a good bit easier in the 40s. Aunt & Uncle couldn’t have kids, either, so they went the “spoil the nieces” route. Aunt is also taking “spoil the grand-nephews” pretty seriously.
        Husband kindly went for the plumbing check first, since he knew how extremely body shy I am. Since his problem necessitates IVF, adoption, or me cheating (like *that* would happen) to have kids, and Mom left me some insurance money, we went for the IVF.

        • DelphiniumFalcon
          May 29, 2015 at 10:27 pm #

          Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Fortunately a coworker who was having trouble getting pregnant directed me to a fantastic obgyn. I’ve had several friends who were going on five years of not being able to get pregnant. He’s helped all of them eventually have good, healthy babies. So I think my chances are better than they were before. At least here’s hoping! I have some tumors in my liver that were caused by the pill that need to he checked out before we seriously start trying though. Not a cancer thing but pregnancy hormones can make them grow and they’re very vascular types of tumors. I don’t want to get kicked wrong and bleed out.

    • Ennis Demeter
      May 29, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

      I think Obgyn Amy Tuteur is aware of this.

    • demodocus
      May 29, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

      That’s probably normal, but not what’s going on with my husband and me. His blockage is right at the collection point, so they cannot go around it with a reverse vasectomy. They tried. At that time they scooped out a sample and froze it. Not quite as tricky as my half of the IVF, but still pretty complicated. (Especially since I managed 14 mature eggs in our only round, 10 of which made it to blastocyst stage before 2 were implanted. The other 8 are hanging about in deep freeze.)

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