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Tag: health

A Feminist Perspective On Denis Walsh

By friend Brian has, in comments to my previous post, pointed me at a very interesting article that puts the case for Denis Walsh, the midwife who caused something of a stir by apparently suggesting that pain in childbirth is a good thing. It is true that we’re all basing our opinions on newspapers’ intrepretations of what he said in that article, not having read the article itself.

So in the interests of fairness, here’s the (well-argued) case for him:


Now That’s A Response

Yesterday, the blogo-twittersphere was buzzing with the news that Dr Denis Walsh, associate professor in midwifery at Nottingham University, had written a piece in Evidence Based Midwifery in which he stated his belief that pain in childbirth is a good thing, and something that women should not attempt to avoid through such pain-killing methods as epidurals.

A large number of women want to avoid pain. Some just don’t fancy the pain [of childbirth]. More women should be prepared to withstand pain. Pain in labour is a purposeful, useful thing, which has quite a number of benefits, such as preparing a mother for the responsibility of nurturing a newborn baby.

Over recent decades there has been a loss of ‘rites of passage’ meaning to childbirth, so that pain and stress are viewed negatively.

Full Observer Article…

As you can imagine, this caused something of a stir among many people, many of whom – unlike the rather male Mister Walsh actually had some experience in doing something which was like, as one of them put it, “Sh*tting a melon”. (That latter quote came from a comment to Marie Phillips’s excellent post on the subject, Strictly Come Birthing. I’ve read other commentators wonder if perhaps Doctor Walsh believes that husbands should be repeatedly kicked in the nuts while their wife is in labour, in order that they too might be prepared for the responsibility of nurturing a child.

And it was in another comment on that same post that I found a link to a brilliant comeback article by The Daily Mash, entitled: “WOMEN TO FORCE HAT-STAND INTO ANUS OF MALE MIDWIFE”

THE senior male midwife who criticised child-birth painkillers will today have a hat-stand forced into his anus, women have promised.

Dr Denis Walsh will be dragged from his office and taken to a paddling pool in the car park where three strong women will hold him down while another two take a seven-foot, solid pine hat-stand with six large curved coat hooks and put it in him.

Emma Bradford, a pregnant lady from Peterborough, said: “No painkillers, no epidurals, we want him to be able to bond with the hat-stand.”

Rest of article…

Somewhere in his piece, I think Doctor Walsh might have half a point. But I think he chose the wrong words with which to express it, and frankly, I think he’s the wrong gender to be the messenger.

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