Breaking the Bank for Bed Rest


Bed rest.

It sounds vaguely Victorian, doesn’t it? Confined to one’s bed, suffering from an incurable physical ailment of days long gone. Bed rest is the catch-all term we still use to describe the order given to pregnant women, by physicians or midwives, who are in some danger of a preterm birth and so must spend their pregnancy off their feet.

“I think of it as house arrest,” Mary Murry, CNM, RN with the Mayo Clinic tells RH Reality Check. “You don’t have to be in bed all of the time but you can’t be going out and about either.”

If this sounds like a woefully incomplete medical description, it is. There is no universally agreed-upon “definition” of bed rest even while 1 in 5 women in the United States will be placed on bed rest at some point, and for various lengths of time, during pregnancy. Some women are prescribed bed rest for only a few days while others spend significant periods of time supine, at home, or in a hospital, literally confined to home for weeks or months. For most working families, especially those in the lowest income levels, living paycheck to paycheck, taking even a day away from work seems impossible – but a week, a month, several months? Why is it, then, that the U.S. offers the most threadbare of safety nets for pregnant and new mothers who, by medical necessity, must frequently refrain from working to care for themselves and, after childbirth, a baby who may be in need of extensive medical care? In the richest country in the world, it’s shocking how limited our support is for pregnant and new mothers and their families. For mothers who have been on bed rest and become leaders in the fight to secure more and better resources, this is not only a health care issue it’s a women’s rights issue.

“From the perspective that nearly 1 in 4 women will be limited by bed rest, I see it as a women’s rights issue that women of all ages should stand behind. Pregnancy is a normal human function. Procreation shouldn’t have such a high risk of job loss, career suicide or financial ruin for a woman,” says Angela Davids founder of the international organization KeepEmCookin.com. The organization provides support and education to women on bed rest.

The reality is, says Darline Turner-Lee, advocate and mother of two young children:

“This happens to women from every walk of life and every culture. It happens to older moms and younger moms, both. Some women sail through and other women who are vegan and exercise have a preterm birth. This is why we have to galvanize all women and get them to see that it’s a women’s rights issue.”

Turner Lee was put on bed rest with both of her children and started an organization, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond, that provides services, support, resources and information to high-risk pregnant women and new mothers. 

Bed rest may be prescribed for a variety of reasons and depending upon what those reasons are, a pregnant woman may be able to plan for the time or be immediately swept off her feet, almost literally, into bed to spend weeks or even months.  The chance that something might go wrong during pregnancy isn’t something people want to talk about though, let alone plan for.

“A lot of women are caught unexpected [by a complication during pregnancy and prescription for bed rest]. Nobody talks about it, so when it happens you’re smacked upside the head. You’re not prepared,” Turner-Lee says. “Many women can’t plan for it. If you can, maybe you can save up vacation time so you have some paid leave. But many don’t, or can’t, plan for bed rest.”

Babs Haller Garrett is Resource Director for Hand to Hold, a Texas-based not-for-profit organization providing ongoing support, resources and education to parents of premature babies. She reveals a stark yet unifying reality:

Anyone can have complications. Anyone can be prescribed bed rest. And anyone can lose their job because of a complicated pregnancy.”

Murry tells me that the most common reasons for bed rest are premature labor, premature rupture of membranes and elevated blood pressure.

And for each woman, symptoms may be more or less threatening, requiring more or less rest.

That doesn’t mean, however, that bed rest isn’t a shared experience.

Most women ordered on bed rest become at the least, reticent partners in discomfort, frustration, sadness and sometimes physical pain over the days, weeks or months they are confined as they attempt to bring their pregnancy to full-term and birth a healthy baby.

“Most women think they would love nothing more than being told they have to stay in bed all of the time. That lasts about 24 hours and then boredom sets in and we find it isn’t much fun.  Most women stand it because it is the best thing for the baby,” says Murry.

To be clear, however, Murry tells me that bed rest isn’t without its risks: “It doesn’t take long in bed for muscle wasting to occur.  It also puts the woman at a greater risk for developing a blood clot.”

“Bed rest with my son was one of the loneliest times of my life. And I felt so useless, not being able to fully care for my 2-year-old daughter during that time,” Davids says.

Holly Blume was placed on bed rest for more than five months when pregnant with her son, Austen. “It was the most challenging experience in my life. I was on medication that had uncomfortable side effects. My body literally ached from head to toe  – even my ears hurt from lying on my side so much. Anytime I rolled over I contracted, therefore, there was constant anxiety.”

Unfortunately, a pregnant woman’s worry over the health of her growing baby, how to care for other children at home and her own health is often overshadowed by anxiety over finances.

“At 22 weeks I was informed I needed to be on bed rest. I remember that day – I was at work. I came in after having been to the doctor and my immediate first thought was, ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do about money?’ I was worried about the baby but after that my first thought was about money,” Aviva (who asked that only her first name be used) told RH Reality Check, on her first day back at work after having her baby.

How do pregnant women ordered on bed rest pay their bills if they can no longer work? For low-wage workers, living paycheck to paycheck, is bed rest even possible? Does family leave cover bed rest? If a woman has saved up vacation or sick days but uses them up during her period of bed rest, does she have any way to take leave post-birth and still have the guarantee of a comparable job to which to return afterwards? Are there other coverage options available?

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), passed in 1993, allows pregnant women and parenting women (and men) time away from work and a guarantee of a comparable job to which to return. And eleven states – including Washington, California and New York have their own versions of the FMLA. California even offers paid leave. In addition, pregnant women who suffer from diagnosed complications may be eligible for short-term disability insurance. Health care reform has brought improvements to programs for some pregnant women offering the potential to reduce the number of women who need to be on bed rest in the first place. According to Pew Center for the States, a $1.5 billion federal grant program for evidence-based state home visitation for pregnant women and new mothers will be established through the Affordable Care Act. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage to pregnant women seeking preventive care, based on classifying pregnancy as a “pre-existing condition,” and Medicare will cover low-income adults, expanding access to coverage for women immediately prior and after pregnancy.

However, these initiatives are not enough.

The truth is that for lower income women in low-wage jobs, there are essentially no options. For some, it makes more sense to simply quit a job that offers no reason to stay. The Program on Gender, Work & Family, notes that while “some low-income workers may qualify for unpaid leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, most cannot afford to take it. Without workplace flexibility or paid leave, low-income workers are forced to choose between caring for their families and their economic security.” That’s not really a choice, is it?

The United States is one of only four developed countries that do not offer paid leave to all new mothers. FMLA is available to employees of businesses with more than fifty employees, with other restrictions in place as well. Because it simply provides for unpaid leave, it leaves 51 percent of new mothers (and pregnant women) without any assured way to support themselves and their families; while 49 percent of women “cobble together paid leave…using sick days, vacation days, disability leave and maternity leave.”

Short-term disability insurance is helpful – if your employer or state offers it or you think to purchase it on your own. However short-term disability usually covers only six weeks of leave – and at approximately 60 percent of your salary.  And because there is no uniform “bed rest” diagnosis, some insurance companies decide that the a doctor’s “prescription” for bed rest isn’t enough to qualify a woman for coverage.

Davids says:

“I’d like to see doctors put the prescription of bed rest in writing, with specific guidelines. I think this would help employers and insurance companies acknowledge that bed rest is a treatment, just like a medication or a surgical procedure. It is a method of keeping pressure off of the cervix, of keeping blood pressure down, of increasing blood flow to the baby, and of encouraging healthy growth. Bed rest is a medical treatment, not a vacation.”

That said, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in a pamphlet on high blood pressure in pregnancy, only says, “bed rest at home or in the hospital may help reduce the pressure…and may be prescribed.” It is not a cure and some studies have suggested that bed rest does not do much to stem preterm labor. However, given that physicians and other care providers do frequently prescribe bed rest – in some form and for some length of time – it’s critical that we acknowledge its role in a family’s financial world.

Aviva worked for a small business. Short-term disability insurance was not available to her. Plus, since the business had fewer than fifty employees, says Aviva, “right off the bat, I couldn’t get family leave.” She continues, “My plan, with my husband, was that I was going to work until the week before the due date so I could be out of work for three months after the baby was born. But immediately that went out the window.”

A prescription of unexpected bed rest meant a frightening financial reality.

“My doctor told me I needed to be on bed rest at 22 weeks. At thirty weeks my water broke so I needed to go to the hospital, where I stayed until my baby was born at 32 weeks. That time spent not at work – I couldn’t get any official help. I had three weeks of accrued vacation time and a week of sick leave. I had to get loans from my family.”

Aviva says she doesn’t know what she would have done if she didn’t have family near by to help her.

Babs Garrett Haller says she and her husband have been “financially ruined” by their experience.

When Babs became pregnant in 2007 she and her husband Joe were thrilled. But a month after finding out she was pregnant with twins Jack and Kate, devastation rained down. When she was 22 weeks pregnant, Jack died in-utero and Babs wound up on bed rest, in the hospital. Kate was born just weeks later, at 25 weeks, and months in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) followed.

“Being on bed rest, unexpectedly, exhausted nearly all of my FMLA (family leave),” Garrett Haller told RH Reality Check. But FMLA provided Babs with time only. To cover expenses while dealing with the loss of one baby, her own fragile health and the health of her daughter before birth and then in NICU afterwards, Garrett Haller used a combination of accrued sick and vacation time as well as a brief period paid for by short-term disability insurance.

“Guidelines for short-term disability insurance are strict so it wasn’t in effect long. We appealed to my OB and Kate’s perinatologist/neonatologist to write letters requesting more time away from work.”

Still, after four weeks of bed rest, and two more months afterwards dealing with intensive care for her daughter, her employment was terminated.

Her husband was employed but not able to cover all expenses plus the immense burden of the new medical expenses they were now carrying. They were out of money – and time.

“After my FMLA ran out, I actually went back to work — leaving Kate alone in the NICU — in an effort to show good faith to my employer that I planned to return once things were more stable. Even with this effort and income, we still couldn’t avoid the financial strife that followed. When my daughter finally came home from NICU, she was mine to hold, feed, have at home, free of wires and tubes but I had to choose between returning to work (keeping my job) or spending time with my new baby (getting fired).”

Babs “chose” to stay home – a decision she says she would absolutely make again – but it cost them everything:

“We just recently admitted to ourselves that we cannot recover from the financial trauma of being unemployed for a year, with medical expenses, having cashed out our retirement and maxed out our credit cards.”

Becoming pregnant and birthing a baby, should not throw families into poverty, frantically trying to find a way to piece together a puzzle only to find key pieces missing. Yet it does. Momsrising.org notes that:

“having a baby is currently a leading cause of “poverty spells” in this country—a time when income dips below what’s needed for basic necessities like food and rent. And, a full quarter of families with children under six live in poverty.”

Says Turner-Lee, “This country has no safety net for pregnant and parenting women – we make no provision for women having a normal birth let alone women who must go on bed rest, or who experience preterm birth.”

It’s enough to make you stand up and make change. It is exactly what Turner-Lee’s web site, Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond in partnership with organizations like David’s KeepEmCookin.com and Better BedRest are doing. They offer support for and resources to women and their families, but they are also banding together to support paid family leave efforts in Congress. Calling the financial struggle women experience when on bed rest an “invisible crisis,” the founder of Better Bedrest, Inc., Joanie Reisfeld, says she and her organizational partners have met with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to discuss the critical importance of paid family and medical leave, as well as increased funding for research into high-risk pregnancy. Mikulski was instrumental in the passage, in 2009, of the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act which gives federal employees four paid weeks of leave, of the twelve weeks total leave allowable.

Momsrising.org and their one million plus members continue to advocate for paid leave as a priority. Paid family leave, the organization notes, is a “key way to stop the downward economic spiral that happens to many women when children are born.” I’d add that the downward economic spiral often happens before children are born, when pregnant women struggling with a medical condition and to maintain a modicum of health and wellness for themselves and their babies must stop working temporarily without the financial support necessary to do so. To that end, the organization is pushing an expanded federal FMLA to include businesses with at least 15 employees, to cover more family members and to provide paid leave. They are also proposing the creation of a $1.5 billion fund for states that are passing paid family leave bills, to offset the costs. 

For mothers who have been on bed rest, there is no shortage of creative suggestions for how this country can best assist pregnant women on bed rest: from supplemental coverage for all mothers who end up on bed rest for at least thirty days to extended leave options for mothers and fathers who have premature infants to emergency grants for families who find themselves in financial crises from an unexpected bed rest stint.

Unpaid leave is simply of no use to many working families who live paycheck to paycheck and cannot afford even one day without paid work. It’s a right for a privileged few Americans and even then it seems to be one without many benefits.

When it comes down to it, Turner-Lee says that most people are “summarily disgusted” about not having paid leave in this country:

“So many laws [governing the workplace] are antiquated – we have to make provisions for parents with children. Women now make up 52% of the workforce. If we stand up together and say this is absurd, then something will get done. We have to stand up and demand what we deserve.”

If you have a story to share, please check in with Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond. They will soon launch a campaign to raise awareness of the financial strain bed rest puts on pregnant women and their families. Please share your story by emailing info@mamasonbedrest.com. These stories will also be used to raise awareness among lawmakers and to encourage them to pass paid maternity/family leave.

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  • jill-stanek

    Writing about how to prevent the need for bedrest during pregnancy would have been more helpful, Amie.

     

    One important cause of this malady is a history of abortion: http://www.jillstanek.com/2010/08/august-ajog-induced-abortion-causes-preterm-births/

     

    This is only logical. Forcible dilation of the cervix only weakens it for the next go-around.

     

    Another reason for bedrest during pregnancy is that the mother is carrying multiples due to fertility treatments: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100120104002.htm. 

     

    Reasons for infertility include a history of STDs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and abortion.  Ways to prevent these would be to practice abstinence/fidelity and avoid abortions.

     

    You rightfully express concern for low-income pregnant mothers put on bedrest. The majority of abortion clinics are located in urban, low income areas. (See Guttmacher slides, pgs 10-12: http://www.guttmacher.org/presentations/abort_slides.pdf.)

     

    The major reason why a disproportionate number of African-American women experience preterm labor (2x whites: http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/156/9/797.full) is because a disproportionate number of African-American women get abortions (5x whites: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/gpr/11/3/gpr110302.html).

     

    Thanks.

     

  • jodi-jacobson

    Readers,

     

    The Editors note that Ms. Stanek’s claims and her misuse of data are regularly contested and refuted by well-recognized medical and public health associations, experts in the field, individual clinicians, and research findings.

     

    Just two examples here are her misuse and misrepresentation of data on the accessibility of reproductive health services in low-income areas, and associations between a past abortion and the need for bed rest for reasons she is attempting to present above.  There is no valid relationship between having had an abortion and the risk of or need for bed rest in a subsequent pregnancy.

     

     

  • jill-stanek

    Jodi, excuse me, I took the time to provide sources pro-choicers would respect. Back up your blow-off.

     

    To clarify, are you claiming most abortion clinics are not located in urban areas, contrary to Guttmacher, which states 97% are? (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/3500603.pdf)

     

    Are you claiming a disproportionate number of African-American mothers do not abort, compared to whites?

     

    Are you claiming a disproportionate number of African-American mothers do not suffer from premature labor, compared to whites?

     

    Are you claiming abortion is not implicated in subsequent cases of incompetent cervix/premature labor, contrary to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the latter of which found a 36% increased risk of preterm birth after 1 abortion and a 60-90% increased risk with more than one (link in 1st post)? Even Parent Magazine admits it (link in 1st post).

     

    Again, even without studies and statistics to substantiate, common sense dictates that forcibly dilating a cervix for an abortion has consequences. It does not just snap back. The results are sometimes an incompetent cervix for a wanted pregnancy, necessitating the need for bedrest and/or a cerclage (sewing the cervix shut).

  • reproductivefreedomfighter

    Reasons for infertility include a history of STDs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and abortion.  Ways to prevent these would be to practice abstinence/fidelity and avoid abortions.

     

    Wow.  Reasons for infertility include many, many things.  Only in RARE cases does abortion cause any kind of problems with future pregnancies.  RARELY.  

     

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/abortion/AN00633

     

    But hey, thanks for stopping by to shame women (because obviously infertility is the woman’s fault, with all the sex she’s been having and all those STIs), and thanks also for your insulting advice on how to prevent infertility (I’m all for avoiding abortion, but not as a treatment for possible future infertility.  Oh, brother.)

     

     

  • jill-stanek

    My post, “Liberal feminists want paid leave for pregnant moms but are hostile to prevention”:  http://www.jillstanek.com/2010/09/how-to-prevent-breaking-the-bank-for-bed-rest/?preview=true&preview_id=9370&preview_nonce=99c4f07268

  • jodi-jacobson

    Jill

     

    The fact that “most” reproductive health clinics are located in urban areas makes sense because….most people are located in urban areas, thereby making them….urban!  Most grocery stores, ice cream stores, restaurants, hospitals, gas stations, clothing stores, and so forth are also located where the populations reside that they exist to serve.  No secret there.

     

    But your method of just throwing data like so much spaghetti against a leaky ceiling and hoping it sticks does not prove anything.  As the data show time and again, and as reproductive justice advocates in this space have underscored time and again, women of color have higher rates of abortions because they face higher rates of unintended and unwanted and untenable pregnancies. And they face higher rates of unintended pregnancies because they generally have less access to pregnancy prevention, have higher rates of poverty, face high rates of violence in their homes and communities, and still face higher rates of discrimination.  They lack the necessary services to prevent and address which you and your followers seek to limit at every chance.  I wonder why it is that you have not challenged directly the very women of color who have written in their own voices on this site?  Could it be that it would further undermine your negligible legitimacy when it comes to speaking for people whose own voices and demands you ignore?

     

    Premature labor among African-American women is not and has not been correlated to abortion; the data is not there.  The first study you link is from 1991-1993 and does not address abortion but rather depression as one factor in pre-term labor.  Talk about twisting data.  There are many and complex reasons for the realities of preterm labor among African American women in the United states, which again, by denying or twisting you help make worse.  The second link to the article by Susan Cohen does not connect abortion to pre-term labor at all. Again, another twist of evidence and data for a seriously twisted agenda.

     

    And again, no amount of misusing and misreading data makes you right or sustains your arguments.

     

    It would be nice, Jill, if you used even one-one-hundreth of this kind of manic energy to be part of the solution instead of helping create and then sustaining the problems.

     

    We do not run a site devoted to misinforming the public.  We run a site devoted to the rights and health of ALL persons to make informed choices that are right for themselves.

     

  • robin-marty

    I spend a lot of time on message boards for infertility and high risk pregnancy post miscarriage, and one thing that can help with getting more support is when doctors prescribe it as “pelvic rest” versus bedrest. It both makes for an easier chance of getting coverage, like short term disability and such, and makes it more clear to the patient (and those demanding the patient return to work immediately) that you aren’t just “resting” and can move about as you like, but that you HAVE TO STAY STILL with no exertion. For women who have had issues with bleeding in their pregnancies, especially those who have SCH’s (subchronic hemotomas), usually at least 3 days of pelvic rest is assigned anytime blood is seen, while you wait for your body to hopefully absorb the SCH. It’s also recommended for bleeding such as small placental abruptions (and obviously large ones, but just reiterating that it’s medically mandated for almost any bleeding).

    I’ve known a lot of women now who have had infection due to incompetent cervix and lost babies who will now be put on pelvic rest basically from the point in which their pregnancies are confirmed, even with a cerclage. And most of them are still trying to work out how they will afford it even as they are trying to conceive.

    Again, great piece, Amie!

  • invalid-0

    We do not run a site devoted to misinforming the public.

    Yup, no agenda here.  Only facts.  Hahaha.

  • prochoicekatie

    They run a site devoted to INFORMING the public. They present facts.

    They do indicate that they are pro-choice – a position held by the overwhelming majority of legal and medical organizations in this country.

    Their “agenda” is to inform the public about reproductive health issues.

    Having a purpose doesn’t equate to misinforming the public.

    However, creating “correlations” and particluarly “causations” without the requisite, strong methodology-based research as Ms. Stanek has done does equal spreading misinformation.

    Furthermore, many women have their cervix dilated for other reasons besides abortion services, and not all abortions require a forced dilation of the the cervix – particularly early first trimester medical abortions. So even suggesting a correlation here without having a heavily regulated study on the relationship is foolish.

    Lastly, if Ms. Stanek makes use of one piece of accurate research but then correlates it to something unsubstantiated, this is also misinformation, and frankly, in my mind, makes her a wholly inappropriate source of information on all conversation points.

  • rebellious-grrl

    Jill – Quit shaming, blaming, and lying to women.

    Reasons for infertility include a history of STDs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and abortion.  Ways to prevent these would be to practice abstinence/fidelity and avoid abortions.

    Please quit shaming and blaming women. Your outright lies are outrageous. Abortion does not cause infertility. Some STDs and PID can cause infertility if not treated in time. But having safe sex, using a condom, and getting regular gynecological checkups helps.

  • goatini

    Low-information readers of Stanek’s article, who are lacking critical thinking skills, most likely will not discern her conflation of actual medical reasons for prenatal bed rest, with the forced-birther agenda.   Stanek is particularly dangerous to low-information readers, because she presents herself as a knowledgeable health care professional dispensing medically accurate information.   

     

    In this case, she is attempting to make a non-existent connection from valid medical causes for prenatal bed rest, to a fantasy idealization of pregnancy as, at its worst, a very low-risk medical event.  (It’s the forced-birthers that have the desire to eliminate as much as possible any association between pregnancy and medical intervention, with their bumper-sticker slogan of “pregnancy is not a disease”.)

     

    For forced-birthers, it is vital that pregnancy be portrayed as a very low-risk event.  If this unfounded and untrue opinion can be presented as fact to a susceptible mind, the success of using guilt and shame as coercion to continue an unwanted pregnancy is greatly increased.  The success of obtaining more healthy white infants for the adoption mills is also greatly increased.  

     

    Since the facts and data show that pregnancy is, at best, a medium-risk medical event, and at worst, a life-threatening medical event, it then becomes incumbent upon the forced-birthers to invent a fallacious “connection” between the facts about risky and life-threatening pregnancies, and specious “causes” of risky and life-threatening pregnancies.  

     

    Here is Stanek’s tortured logic:

     

    Feminists want sufficient paid maternity leave to be available for all female workers.  Specifically in Amie’s article, the concern was expressed about women earning low incomes, for whom it is very financially difficult to take time for prenatal bed rest, should this be required by her physician.  

     

    Stanek thinks this is BAD, “financial times in American being as they are”, and asserts that the REAL problem is insufficient prevention of the need for prenatal bed rest.

     

    (Now, for anyone who has ever actually been through a risky pregnancy, or had friends and/or relatives who have had risky pregnancies, you already know that this premise is, besides being uniquely cruel in its vicious victim-blaming, completely ridiculous from a medical and biological standpoint.)

     

    Stanek then invents a non-existent statistic that over 50% of pregnancy complications are caused by previous pregnancy terminations, and so-called “promiscuous sex”.  

     

    A chart (a completely unrelated chart derived from completely unrelated data) is then inserted, as the graphical tool to lead her readers into the completely FALSE conclusion that:

     

    * Pregnancy is not a disease >

    * Only g-dless evil feminist baby-killlers have a “notion” that “pregnancy is problematic” >

    * If there ARE problems, then I say that they are the fault of the pregnant woman and are completely preventable >

    * I say that over 50% of the main pregnancy risks listed as possibilities have a direct cause of previous pregnancy terminations and “promiscuous sex” >

    * Oh looky here!  I have a chart about low-income women and abortions!  It’s from Guttmacher!  There’s no data here, and nothing said here, about risky pregnancies or prenatal health issues, but what the hell!  A chart means PROOF, and I’m saying that the evil feminist baby-killers can’t argue this PROOF because it comes from one of their evil data sources!  >

    * Ergo, those very few women who have pregnancy complications are poor miserable sluts who deserve those complications because they screwed around a lot and killed their previous babies >

    * And anyone who says otherwise (much less has a 12th grade level of reading comprehension) is “hostile to prevention”!  So there!  Bring it on, baby killers!!!

     

    This indefatigable dedication of the forced-birthers to spreading lies and misinformation to vulnerable women and those who love them enrages me.  If you have ever been through, or know anyone who has been through, a difficult pregnancy, you know how vicious and cruel this article is.  One of my friends had to go on complete bed rest 6 months before her daughter’s birth.  Another friend recently came very close to losing her life, and her daughter’s life, due to pregnancy complications for which she was already on complete bed rest.  To read this ignorant, nasty Stanek person attempting to minimize the always-present risks of pregnancy, attributing any complications to “lifestyle choices”, and portraying my sweet friends (and I’ll bet many of your sweet friends and family too) as the immoral and conscienceless scum of the earth… well, I knew what she was before, but THIS has me in shock.   

  • radicalhousewife

    ….I compare her to George Rekers, who was similarly obsessed with curing homosexuality.  He knew best about it, didn’t he?  Why, he was so obsessed he purchased the sexual services of a young male hooker!  Wow!  I bet Jill secretly listens to Bikini Kill records and owns the complete works of Jessica Valenti.

  • arekushieru

    Well, goatini, rg, I think Jill just wants to put ALL the responsibility on the woman (as she usually does) for behaviour that involved TWO not JUST one.  But, of course, I forget, in Jill’s and almost all other anti-choicers eyes, the ‘MENZ CAN DO NO WRONG’ mentality thrives and lives strong.  Punish those pesky ‘wimminz’ and place ALL the blame on them, even if I happen to be one of them, because, HEY, it’s handy and convenient.  UGH.

  • darline-tunerlee

    First and foremost, Amie, thanks for writing such a well written piece about bed rest. I need to make one correction, I didn’t go on bed rest. In my first pregnancy my daughter was born prematurely so I didn’t need bed rest and in my second pregnancy, because I had no resources available-no family or community to help me-I basically refused bed rest because I was feeling well, was asymptomatic and I had my then 3 1/2 year old daughter to care for. While I don’t advocate this for everyone, I took a look at the data and my situation and basically gambled that I’d be okay. Thankfully my gamble paid off in a healthy little boy.

    But once again we have to ask the question, “Why are women put in a situation where they even think about gambling with their health and the health of their unborn children?” That fact that the United States can fund wars and send millions of dollars in relief aid to other countries tells me that we can afford to support working women while they bear their children, the so called “future of our nation”. We say, “No Child left behind,” but when we fail to take care of pregnant mothers, we invaribly start children, many of whom will suffer life long developmental problems, behind. (And we do a piss poor job of getting them the support and services they need to have any hope of catching up!)

    What concerns me about this whole discussion is the fact that while women are being “quietly” denied maternity benefits and losing their jobs, we are slowly but surely being forced back into the home. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am shocked that there is not a louder clamor of outrage from working women! Gone are the days when “darling hubby” brought home the bacon and we dutiful wives kept the home fires burning. Today many women are heads of their households. We have single moms, divorced moms and widowed moms. Not working is not an option! In the same manner, many women “bring home the bacon”, i.e. are the principle wage earners for their families and as such the family cannot afford for her not to be financially compensated. Additionally, while female employees often have medical benefits and/or disability benefits for say a hip replacement, heart bypass, abdominal surgery…there is no provision for maternity leave. What gives? More to the point, What are we women going to do?

    Finally, As an African American woman and a woman who has had 4 pregnancies, 2 miscarriages and 2 high risk pregnancies, I was completely offended at Jill Stanek’s insinuation that my problems arose because of abortion. I have never had an abortion nor have I had any sort of pelvic infection. I did have uterine fibroids and had them removed putting me at risk for uterine rupture during labor and delivery. But that aside, her comments about abortion and African American women are offensive to say the least and just plain racist.

    I respect the fact that Ms. Stanek is pro-life. But abortion is not the great evil of our time. In a perfect world we would not need abortion. Adult relatives would not rape little girls and boy friends/husbands would not rape girl friends/wives. In a perfect world there would be resources to care for children that result from unintended pregnancies. (BTW, has Ms. Stanek adopted any children lately? There are thousands of American children, especially children of color, awaiting their “forever homes and families”.) In a perfect world it would not be assumed that I am or have been promiscuous simply because I am an African American woman. And more importantly, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t even need to have these discussions because we’d all be more concerned with taking care of our fellow (wo) man than pointing blame and being exclusionary.

     

    Darline Turner-Lee, Owner and Founder

    Mamas on Bedrest & Beyond.

  • crowepps

    The superstition that if bad things happen to you it must be because you’re a bad person is very comforting to the self-righteous.  Some people just cannot accept that bad things do indeed happen to good people because it destroys their illusions that their behavior keeps them safe.  In my experience, no matter how ‘good’ you are, no matter how devoutly religious you are, no matter how obsessively you focus on ‘happy thoughts’, life is going to kick you in the teeth occasionally and when that happens, there will always be fools who ask you what you did that brought on what they see as ‘punishment’.

     

    Infertility and spontaneous miscarriage and complications of pregenancy are NOT punishments for past ‘sins’ nor are they necessarily ’caused’ by something the woman did, but instead are a normal part of the process of reproduction.

  • princess-rot

    Reasons for infertility include a history of STDs, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, and abortion.  Ways to prevent these would be to practice abstinence/fidelity and avoid abortions.

     

    Wtf? Morality or a perceived lack thereof does not cause anything, except maybe making anti-choicers foam at the mouth. Infertility does not distinguish between “good girls” and Jezebels and it does not care if you have one hundred unprotected one-night stands or you wore a chastity belt and mumbled some words in front of a priest. I suppose if you were of the latter category and you wound up with an incompetant cervix would you imply that you “deserved” the difficulty and god must be punishing you? Or would you be a special case, unlike those “other” women?

  • darline-tunerlee

    Excellent point. Life indeed does just happen and without regard to race, sex, class, education or socioeconomic status.

  • crowepps

    While it may be true that STD’s and pelvic inflammatory disease can cause infertility, infertility can be present with no history of either.  The problem I have with statements like this is that they tend to be turned upside down and turned into ‘if you’re infertile it’s probably your own fault because you were immoral’.

     

    I had my own experience with this attitude — my daughter has genetically linked dyslexia that runs in her father’s family, but a number of different teachers ASSUMED that the reason she had a learning disability was that I must have been using drugs or drinking during the pregnancy AND made it clear that they felt ‘people like me’ couldn’t have any opinions on the issue to which they should waste their time listening.

     

    ‘If there’s anything wrong with a child it’s rooted in Mom’s probable immorality’ is every bit as offensive as ‘if a woman can’t get pregnant or there are complications of pregnancy, it’s her own fault and probably past immorality’.

  • princess-rot

    While it may be true that STD’s and pelvic inflammatory disease can cause infertility, infertility can be present with no history of either.

     

    Oh, I don’t disagree, but the offensive part of Jill’s post was the implication that if you DO have any one of or a number of those things, you deserve it and it’s your fault for not abiding by arbitary sex rules. Like with your daughter, asshole assumptions about women’s morality (and it always lies between our legs) does nothing but misinform and foster terrible attitudes about women.