Features

‘A bit of a compromise’: Coming to terms with an emergency caesarean section

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During the midwife-hosted antenatal class Cath attended in a private hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, where she would eventually give birth, pregnant women were encouraged to name the kind of birth they wanted. They were presented with three options: “natural all the way with no medication”, “natural but open to medication”, or “elective caesarean”. The ‘choice’ women were expected …

Features

Stakes of Life: Science, states, policies, publics and ‘the first thousand days’

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Welcome back to the “First Thousand Days of LifeSomatosphere series. Here we continue to explore the ways that a global health initiative driven by new findings in epigenetics and neuroscience and by a reframing of theories about health and disease in terms of developmental origins shape ideas about (global) health and population futures, invigorate campaigns, and take …

Features

Infant Topography: Baby Body Mapping in Maphisa, Zimbabwe

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baby-body-map

Nomsa, her sixteen month old son Nathi and I met early one morning at the entrance to the open cast mine in Mafuyana, Southern Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Nathi safely secured on her back, a shovel in one hand and a plastic bag with bread and water in the other, Nomsa hurried me along: “We must walk quickly, the earlier I start …

Features

Everyday violence, mobility and access to antenatal care

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I met Libby on a cold winter morning at the clinic. She was a short woman with a strong voice and slow walk. Libby was 35 years old and taken by surprise at being pregnant again. She had one child, a son who was already 17 and whose presence filled the two hour conversation as Libby returned to stories of …

Features

Bracketing time: nourishment beyond ‘the first thousand days’

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[1000 days]

of focus and intense care in order to ‘secure’ infants’ future health,

[6 months]

of exclusive breastfeeding.

These brackets of time demarcate periods of intense focus and intervention that aim at mitigating loss and securing potential. As Michelle Pentecost writes in the introduction to this series, this impetus draws on new research in epigenetics, neuroscience and DOHaD (Developmental …

Features

1000 Risks and Birth-and-Death in Cape Town

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“I was willing to die,” Terri told me, “I just didn’t want to have another caesarian.” She referred to her vaginal birth after three c-sections (a VBA3C), which took place at home, since no Cape Town hospital would allow her what is termed a trial of labour – an attempt at vaginal birth – for fear of uterine rupture. It …