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PUBLIC INTERVENTION

Recently I was out to dinner for a dear friend’s birthday. It was a steakhouse and the orders around the table called for rare, medium rare, rare and medium.

When the waiter got to my friend she said “And you’ll have yours well done.” to which my friend replied “No, thanks, I’ll have medium too”. The waiter then explained that as she was pregnant the restaurant could only serve her steak well done. pregnantAfter a collective gasp around the table and various comments along the lines of ‘you’ve got to be kidding’ and ‘that can’t be right’, the waiter offered to go and check with the chef. While she was gone I was struck by the hurt and humiliation on my friend’s face. We were out to celebrate her birthday and she’d just been treated like a child. I could see her eyes glistening. The waiter returned and confirmed that yes, the chef would not serve a steak to a pregnant woman unless it was well done. Some negotiations with the manager later and we “won” the “right” to have her order changed. It’s an unofficial sport in our society to speculate on the bodies of women – are they too fat, too thin, pregnant yet, not pregnant, showing stretch marks, using contraceptives, having abortions, having too much sex, not enough sex, or wearing “appropriate” clothing. In every culture, women’s bodies are battlegrounds where patriarchy and capitalism intersect to make life difficult for women trying exercise bodily autonomy. Women’s bodies are scrutinised and policed from every angle, and this process only intensifies during pregnancy. So when Chrissie Swan made the emotional confession yesterday that she’d been smoking cigarettes from time to time during her pregnancy, I immediately braced myself for the inevitable orgy of public outrage. It came.

chrissie-swan-the-projectChrissie Swan on Channel Ten’s The Project.
 

So far I’ve read that she’s a bad mother, a disgusting person, selfish, stupid, and irresponsible. I’ve seen people say they feel sorry for her children. I’ve seen others conflate her inability to stop smoking with a lack of control over her weight, and suggestions that if she can’t handle the stress of her many jobs, maybe she shouldn’t have them. I feel certain that all of these commentators would welcome a photographer trailing them all day to capture their every move, so that the public may pass judgment and decide whether they’re living their lives correctly. Leaving aside that this public conversation is only happening because a photographer caught her smoking alone in her car (a practice I find disturbing and unethical, the photography not the smoking) Chrissie Swan admitted today that she’s been unable to fully give up smoking while pregnant. She’s addicted to smoking and she’s struggling to cut it out of her life. Medical professionals and anti-smoking campaigners are in agreement that it’s one of the hardest drugs to kick, so shouldn’t we be supportive and empathetic towards someone struggling to do just that? In my experience, shaming, judging and lecturing addicts doesn’t help them beat their addictions. In fact, it may contribute to the spirals of shame and self-doubt that fuel their reliance on the drug. If you’ve never smoked, or been an addict, it’s hard to understand. But I see Chrissie as someone who is turning to something she knows and responds to in a time of stress and pressure. This is hardly breaking news. The difference is that she’s pregnant and pregnant women’s bodies don’t belong to them. People will freely tell you this, without realising the terrible impact it has on women and expecting mothers. They’ll tell you “her body belongs to the baby now” but what they really mean is “her body belongs to everyone with an opinion (whether they have a clue or not), women and men who know better, and society”. The waiter and chef in that restaurant felt completely entitled to casually assume control over my friend’s body and the cultural weight behind this act of rudeness is clear. In the past thirty years, the medical community has come to agree that the way we used to ‘do’ pregnancy is not okay, and I agree that having more information on risks and dangers allow mothers to make better choices for them and their baby. pregnant-smokingBut to put things in perspective, many of us over the age of thirty were born after nine months of 70s women making absolutely zero changes to their diet, alcohol and cigarette consumption. In my case, I’m fairly sure my parents put away a pack a day and sampled many a tinnie and cask in the months between October 1976 and June 1977. I’m not saying you should do that now but if you did, a) everything might still be okay and b) I wouldn’t hang you out to dry for it, having a sense of proportion about a period not so long ago when it was the norm. I would also not observe your actions during a particular moment of your long pregnancy and think that it reflected your parenting ethos. I would not decide that your choice on that day was so terrifically irresponsible that I could extrapolate out from that and cast aspersions on your character and your fitness as a mother. And frankly, I would mind my own business. Because make no mistake, none of this apoplectic rage and judgment is about the welfare of children or a belief in the constant stream of warnings from the medical community about which foods and behaviours might affect pregnancy and birth. It’s about finding new and more justifiable ways of controlling women. Sanctimony may feel good but it says a lot more about the person doing the judging than whoever is being judged.   What do you think? Are pregnant women easy targets? Do they rightly bear the burden of society’s concern for the unborn, or should people back the hell off?

 

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Karen Pickering

Karen Pickering (@jevoislafemme) is the creator and host of Cherchez la Femme, Melbourne’s monthly talkshow on current affairs and popular culture from a feminist perspective. More information @cherchezlafemmo and mskarenpickering.com.au

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119 Comments

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    kaz

    Excellent article, Karen. Of course smoking when pregnant is not ideal, but since when does shaming and blaming and judging (in the guise of ‘concern for baby’) ever help? Great to read such grounded and clear words of wisdom.

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      tb1955

      Brilliant article – sanctimony and judgement are two of the most hideous character traits and I certainly can’t tolerate them. I am one of those 70s Mum’s you mentioned and I have 2 very intelligent, vibrant daughters. The chef was probably terrified he would be sued if your friend got sick given the ridiculous dietary rules that now surround pregnancy as well. Giving up smoking is difficult and if you could just stop then everyone would!

    • Reply February 8, 2013

      Irene Buckler

      Interesting Letter in today’s SMH on this subject:

      Life is full of ironies. A young woman admits to smoking during pregnancy and it provokes outrage and a national debate. If the same young woman had admitted to having an abortion we would have shrugged our shoulders and said she was within her rights to do what she wants to with her own body. Go figure.
      Neil Ormerod Professor of Theology, Australian Catholic University

      Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/camerons-nerve-puts-politicians-here-to-shame-20130207-2e1f1.html#ixzz2KGUbZKwJ

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Kathryn

    Unfortuately when you put yourself out there in public like Chrissy Swan does, and you dish out your own opinion every week, you’ve got to expect some of it to come back to you. Chrissy is a smart woman. She knows that the volume of food you eat and feed your kids is just as important as the nutritional quality and yet she confesses that her kids are overweight and she is obese. She knows smoking is bad for unborn children. If you want to be a public figure and a role model for other women, you’ve got to walk the talk! And don’t come crying when people call you out on it!

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      anne louise

      But Kathryn, I want my role models to be obese smokers.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Linda

    Great article thanks. When I was a young mother I would have much preferred someone actually doing something that may assist rather than the judging that was just as common 35 years ago but based on different things – like did said pregnant woman have a wedding ring? For some reason everyone feels entitled to have a say – well here is my deal- I will accept your opinion when you answer my call at 4am to soothe screaming child while I get some sleep! Until then………..

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Kate Griggs

    Completely disagree. I’m pregnant. You don’t eat raw uncooked food and you don’t smoke whilst pregnant. Simple.

    The public is shocked because its SHOCKING!!!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Nicci

    ….. unfortunatley with the rise of reality tv and social media, the ugly has been released in humanity. Be it the hate campaign over the Spice Girls or people feeling its their right to condemn and humiliate a pregnant woman, eveyone needs to put a good old mirror up to their own face and lean the art of compassion. xx

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Judy

    Could not agree more! Tired of judgemenatalism regarding women, and in particular pregnant women. Back off people!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Fiona

    Public humiliation is wrong, and I agree that there’s a culture of “WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??” that extends to the unborn.

    HOWEVER, what I also see around me is a highly litigious society where a restaurant who served a pregnant woman a blue rare steak could run the risk of being sued if that woman had pregnancy complications that _could_ be traced back to undercooked meat (listeria, e. coli, etc; all things that are bad when not pregnant but can cause fatal complications in pregnancy).

    I would prefer that everyone took responsibility for their own actions and that, if I ask for my blue steak and have soft cheese for dessert, I’m fully aware of the potential risks; but we all know that isn’t the case. I’m quite, quite certain that Karen’s friend is one of the intelligent majority who wouldn’t dream of suing a restaurant for her own preferences; but we know it happens.

    The restaurant wasn’t passing judgement; they were, frankly and bluntly, covering their butts against a hypothetical someone with more lawyers than sense.

    I hate that I even have to think like that. I wouldn’t do it; but I know others would, and so businesses that could pose a potential risk to pregnant women have to take action. Public baths, for eg, often now don’t heat their hot baths to the full temperature, due to the risk to pregnant women (which is annoying to those of us who want that almost-scalding temperature to relax, but that’s the price one pays … ).

    So I do have a measure of sympathy for the restaurant.

    However, if they have such a policy, maybe they should clearly state it on their menu (“please note that for health reasons, we prefer not to cook our steaks rare for pregnant women”), or somewhere where they don’t run the risk of publicly embarassing their patrons.

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      Wendy Lown

      Just to get the facts right. The author’s friend ordered a medium steak but whatever. Chrissie is her own worst enemy because she is naive enough to always be honest and human. She seems to regard her status as a public figure as requiring her to not ponce about trying to be seen as perfect but rather fallible just like the rest of us. and because of this she has to be one of the most vindictively criticised public figures in the land! I’d choose Chrissie as a role model for the rest of us humans any day

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Jenn J McLeod

    I knew The Hoopla would write what should be written – a factual, intelligent piece. It’s a shame not all the media can do that. (I think they are addicted to sensationalism. Perhaps they need help! They sure need shaming!) I am stunned by the restaurant story and I am saddened that because someone has a job that gives them a public face they become public property in some way. I don’t see this sort of media treatment going away – not while money is being paid for invading people’s privacy. We need to mind out own business and let others live their lives. Well done, Hoopla

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Moorie

    When I gave birth to my daughter who turns 39 today there were ashtrays in the hospital so you could actually breast feed at the same time as having a cigarette. I did not smoke because when I became pregnant my morning sickness was such that I became ill just thinking about a smoke. Well done to my body! I don’t believe she should be villified as I did take the habit up again and again but not when I was pregnant. I say to my daughters now that with all the things you can’t eat, drink or put into your body when you are pregnant these days it is a wonder they survived as well as they did. Give her a break. I just thought the tearful TV appearance was a bit over the top and to me looked a little contrived.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    sydswan

    Back off, mind your own business and for goodness sake, don’t buy the wretched magazine that has allegedly paid $55,000 for these pictures. I feel incredibly sorry for Chrissie, Candace Alley and anyone else that has been “caught” out by the paparazzi doing something that is seen to be “shameful” – what a horrible world we live in. I don’t care about rights, wrongs or excuses – photographers should not be allowed to commercially benefit by being a stalker, this is the point I find so revolting about this whole story.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Ronda

    And how many people have abused the damn photographer, who is actually the one at fault here? It’s not Chrissie who’s at fault – she has every right to do whatever she wants to do, whenever she wants to. It’s none of anyone else’s business. I believe Chrissie’s a great role model simply because of who she is and the multiple roles she handles so well. Go Chrissie!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Belinda

    Dear Chrissie,

    Obviously it’s a bad idea to read comments on posts about you, but if this ever finds its way to you, I would like to say that everything you put out into the world tells me that you do your absolute best for your family and yourself. Mothering in public is a thankless task. You seem like a terrific woman. All strength to you, the best of luck staying healthy, and may you all enjoy many many happy years together.

    Belinda

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      anne louise

      Dear Chrissie,
      what Belinda said.
      Love AL

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Kerryn Goldsworthy

    Jenn, did you read the comment before yours? The restaurant was just covering its butt legally, which is, sadly, necessary for them, since we are following the American model in litigiousness just as we are following it in celebs living their lives in public. I’m surprised this legal angle wasn’t mentioned in the article.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Johnny

    Good piece Fiona and from a medical viewpoint I agree with you in the above comment. Chrissy is clearly not in the group that smokes during pregnancy so they can have a small baby, and therefore an easier birth. Chrissy is however addicted to nicotine, and this may be transmitted to the baby, and the newborn may have been premature, and needing a dose of caffiene (normal procedure in NN ICU units) to kick start it.
    Sure we all know smoking is stupid, and unhealthy, but it is still not illegal and society does not have a given right to judge.
    Oscar Wilde said,moralisers usualy have something to hide,
    or words to that effect.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Janet G

    Oh give over everyone.

    The chef was pointing out a medical fact and was probably concerned that the restaurant would be held responsible if anything went wrong, ie. the woman contracted some bacteria form the undercooked meat that harmed the foetus.

    Plus, if you are going to go on some pathetic talkback confession/poor l’il me show, DON’T wear mascara.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    sharont

    I agree with Nicci. I also think that if you are giving (your) opinion, you should be receptive to others who may not share it. We are all prospective targets of the anything goes syndrome in this day and age, and this is why so many of us don’t stick our head above the parapet – we are all too aware of the consequences. I veer from thinking we all need a Bex and a good lie down, to being so angered I want to slap someone. Not something I’m proud of, but it’s there none the less ….

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Tanya

    Absolutely top article, awesome writing. As a friend of mine has said for years that the media is just another tool for “circumcising women” in any way, shape or form. You’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t. Whether it’s weight loss/gain, pregnancy, breast-feeding, working mothers/stay at home mothers, having kids/not having kids, you can’t win any path you choose because there are simply too many people not minding their own damn business.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    J'aimee

    One thing from this entire debacle is simple: stop consuming the media that feed on, and often creates, these problems.

    Don’t buy the magazines (and I use the word loosely) that pay paparazzi to stalk out public figures like they are animals at a zoo.

    Stop retweeting/sharing ‘gossip’ and ‘news’ (the words seem interchangable these days) from media who are ‘breaking’ or perpetuating these issues.

    Stop worshipping celebs. They’re just people, no better no worse than anyone else. They are normal- just a different realm of normal (more money, flasher car, bigger house or whatever the case may be). They still partake in the same day to day human tasks as all of us – yes, low and behold they do number 2’s just like us (but maybe their toilet seat is warmed or padded!)

    Most of all, I think we all could do well to take a deep breath and live *our* lives rather than live in a constant state of bothering ourselves with other peoples lives.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    RobynMarie

    Good God! Leave the woman alone! Unless of course you are perfect mothers and never ever did a ‘bad’ thing when you were pregnant. Everybody needs to mind their OWN business and stop being MEAN.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    vanessay

    I cannot believe that this woman is being publicly pilloried while the sleazeball photographer (“I make a living by stalking people”) and the dodgy magazine get away without comment.
    Chrissy (I live in another state so I am not familiar with her work) Swan would have done better to say nothing. Apologising makes it seem as though she has done something wrong.Silly, not well thought out,maybe but not wrong and not illegal.
    I am sorry for her and I am sorry for those who feel the constant need to belittle and criticise others in order to feel better about themselves. The whole bloody country is boiling with outrage over these miniscule issues while the big stuff is just passing with out notice.
    This should not be a discussion about smoking, it should be a discussion about privacy and the ethics of the taking of, and trading in, these types of photos.
    Because someone will undoubtedly question my comment, I have been an ex-smoker over three years and I made the decision to stop buying into this sordid crap two years ago and do not buy one, single magazine. I survive anyway.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    demynw

    People forget Doctors said thalidomide was safe too. In reality we all think we know what we’re talking about and time and time again there are exceptions to our rules. I’m with you Karen, people need to mind their own business and keep their own counsel until its requested.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Leonie

    I can see both sides of the discussion.. On one side we have a vulnerable pregnant woman feeling helpless to an addiction that she obviously is so ashamed of that her own husband didn’t know about it and on the other side we have an adult that is making a choice that could affect the health of her and her husbands unborn child… I say choice because that is what it is essentially- yes smoking is an addition but you choose to prolong it or stop. I quit smoking through will power- it was hard but if it was easy then no one would smoke, so it comes down to strength of will power. Also as a new mother who has an unfortunate history of failed pregnancies and ivf, I couldn’t dream of putting my miracle at any risk. To potentially hinder his life before he was even born just breaks my heart.. The questions I raise now are: if she did ( and i say if) she really gave up smoking in her last pregnancies- why did she start again? And does she fully grasp the concept of the fact that her child can be born with health complications and is this a form of child abuse? Yes strong words but is it really? And where does it stop- will she smoke in a confined environment around her child once born- if no one is watching? My last question is: would this still be going on if she wasn’t caught? I in no way think she should be publically shamed – pregnancy is not easy and women already struggle with a lot.. but it has happened and these are the consequences- the debater has become the debated! I just hope her baby is born with a healthy strat to life and so she doesn’t have to live with any guilt in the future- that would be far worse than public humiliation..

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    shelley

    Society in this country have become a bunch of Lotus Eaters, people who have a sense of entitlement to do nothing but cast their negative judgements to all who will listen. If you don’t have anything constructive, or nice, to say then say NOTHING. Some women here have put their actual names against some of the judgemental quips of their own making. Well I say to them, what goes around comes around so keep a look out. And to Chrissie, I really feel for you having to go on national television and answer to the righteous. I hope you are snuggling with your kids/hubby, in the perfect realisation that they don’t care if you smoke or not. Thanks Hoopla. x

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Anon

    Chrissie, first of all I don’t judge you. I really feel for you. I too, used to secretly smoke. Wasn’t pregnant, but everyone (including my partner) were VERY anti-smoking and I had to go to great lengths to hide it. I was so ashamed. Yes, it’s really, really addictive. It had a horrible grip on me. I couldn’t stop even though I actually hated it. So what I’m saying is, I don’t blame you. But maybe you could see this event as a gift; it took being found out (a few times) and having my partner blow up at me for me to quit because I got to the point where I resented ciggies so much for what they’d done to me, that I didn’t even crave them any more. It freed me. So maybe you’ll be able to give them up now, and you will feel freed from it. Then you can feel chuffed that you overcame the addiction. Much love xx

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Rhoda

    Agree with you, Karen.

    It’s a vanity – holding everyone to your own standards but also I think our litigious society is making us all very insecure. You can bet that chef had legitimate concern about serving undercooked meat to a pregnant woman. Just the way he went about it the whole thing that was offensive.

    Everyone seems to be on the offensive these days.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    sue Bell

    In some states of America they brought in laws that allowed them to gaol pregnant women if they did not look after themselves well enough, if they ate the wrong food, if they put on too much weight and they had the right to remove the baby (kidnap and give away). This is far too much interference. And we should remember many in the medical field will admit that giving up smoking is harder than giving up heroin.
    Leave poor Chrissy alone and don’t buy shit magazines.
    I am so sick of people thinking they can tell women what to wear, to eat, to drink, to think, how to behave and take control of her body and even decide what sort of deaths we will have.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Catherine M

    I’m astounded that some people seriously think a restaurant is justified in refusing to serve a pregnant woman a rare steak on the grounds of ‘possible contamination’. Under that justification, McDonalds and Mr Whippy should refuse to sell soft-serve to pregnant women, Coles/Woollies should refuse to let a pregnant woman through the checkout with soft cheese, sandwich shops should refuse to put ham in their foccacia…in fact pregnant women should just stay home and eat apples. Oh hang on, pesticides….okay, organic apples.
    Seriously, women are bombarded with should/shouldn’t do’s from the moment they even think about conceiving. Whether you like it or not, EVERYTHING is a choice. Back off, people!

    (Love your work, KP.)

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    krispy

    Judgment of others is part of the human condition, it seems, and we ALL do it. We are judged and shamed to varying degrees from babyhood on, so it seems “natural” that we pass it on. That generally happens if we have not reflected on ourselves or society as a whole and unthinkingly repeat what was done to us, claiming that it was good for us, so it is good for others.

    The judgment process also goes in two directions – outward and inward. Who does not have some level of self-judgment? Those who have more often turn it vehemently towards others, as well as turning it on themselves, or instead of doing so.

    I have spent many hours doing both but now try very hard to let others be who they are, and to have compassion for them and for myself. No-one is perfect and shaming is the least effective means of helping another. I don’t think it is meant to help, it is meant to control. I think that so many of the news items these days centre on very first-world problems and are often trivial. Of course health is not trivial, but let’s allow others to be doing their best (even if it’s not everyone’s best) in their area of dilemma. We are not all capable of controlling every aspect of our health, and those who do often suppress issues to such an extent that they get more serious diseases. Are we going to berate, shame and isolate women who get breast cancer, for instance? Surely those women did something to cause their illness? Surely they too are guilty of some wrong action? Aren’t they a burden on the health system, like the obese, the alcoholics and the smokers?

    My friend, a doctor, got a brain tumour. He said jokingly that he was so relieved he got a brain tumour and not lung cancer, as he smokes and could not have borne the comments of others about “bringing it on yourself.” His story is in fact really sad and reflects our judgmental society. Where is the love and support?

    In our attempts to be all inclusive are we not at the same time vilifying and shaming so many other aspects of humanity? It is one thing to encourage all of us to improve in health, both physical and emotional, but it is quite a different thing to conduct campaigns of terror, like this witch-hunt of Chrissie Swann. These campaigns reflect the externalisation of self-hatred and can form the basis for scientific research on breeding out the genes for such things as obesity or alcoholism, in other words, not so different to the Nazis, in eugenically breeding a new super race.

    Come on people. Let’s not take on the shaming behaviour or the shame. Love yourself and others, be supportive and encouraging. That’s how change happens best.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    lorrie

    When did our bodies and habits become public property?no prospective mother goes out to destroy her child>where is privacy?understanding?and kindness these days,I am 76 yrs of age,and yes i smoked,drank alcohol in minimal amounts,worked as a nurse until i was 30 weeks pregnant,had six healthy subsequent intelligent and healthy kids!!!!I appreciate times have changed but being critical and judgemental of another person’s way of life and not supportive of her confession for what it was,needing support
    is unkind.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Sarah

    Great article – totally agree with every point made.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Sharon

    My heart breaks for Chrissy. This is just awful. Humiliation, guilt, regret. remorse are no fun at any time let alone when your’e pregnant and the entire country feels free to judge you. Hugs to you Chrissie. x

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Veronica Darling

    Great points here Karen, and I experienced the “None for YOU” assumption when pregnant last year as champagne was poured or drinks or coffees were ordered. I felt responsible making my choice to consume what I liked, in moderation, and my baby is 100 per cent fit and healthy and happy. I cannot believe the amount of judgement & comparing is around pregnancy & birth & child rearing!

    I hope Chrissie Swan knows she’s an inspiration in so many ways, and I wish her the best positive vibes for the rest of her pregnancy.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Cas

    Thank you again for a great article. Personally, I learnt very quickly how pregnant women’s bodies are not their own 14 years ago. Strangers would approach, arms outstretched, grabbing my acutely distended abdomen which was swollen with twins. Never have I been so publicly & unapologetically groped as when I was pregnant. And I’ve been on a peak hour train at central! This whole debacle proves our bodies are not our own & gives the sanctimonious yet another crate to preach from.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    jo

    Whose Chrissie Swan?

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    neetz

    Jo, your comment is the funniest one. thank you. I’m not even going to correct your spelling.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    aussieblonk

    Not sure Chrissie would have been treated much better, had she not been pregnant. Some have agendas that, no matter what, they will sensationalise to make a point. Smoking in her car was the first mistake, responding to unnecessary criticism, 2nd mistake, showing emotion, 3rd, and biggest mistake. We all know celebs cop a raw deal more often than not from media, however, in many cases, the celebrity creates the story, the media and public scrutiny, inflates it. Hoping Chrissie is now left alone, we have seen enough stupidity from those opposed to Charlotte Dawson..My issue with this chef/resta
    raunt, is I despise any form of, ‘dictatorship’. Most of us would feel belittled, you can appeal against their archaic rule, have common sense prevail, yet,the embarrassment remains.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Marc

    neetz, I don’t think jo’s comment needs a spelling correction. “Whose Chrissie Swan?” is a valid question. Being a pregnant woman in this country, she’s certainly not Chrissie’s Chrissie Swan.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    One smoke a day is an impressive cutdown.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Rangdalion

    I gave up smoking when a friend and colleague got pregnant, it was not my first attempt, and it was really hard. But I’m so glad I did, not only for my daughter’s sake, but because I watched my mother, who smoked, slowly drown from the inside out with emphysema. Not only is it a horrible and dreadfully addictive habit, but unlike most other addictions, it poisons people around you. I don’t like the targeting of pregnant women, but smoking is really a killer for babies, mothers, people in reach of the smoke……

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    Yip~ well thanks very much Rangdalion for more news on how I will die. No wonder I am avoidant of swimming. I liked your approach on what is not helpful around addiction, Karen. Also your perspectives on autonomy and women’s bodies.

    I have never been pregnant. The community education and information now around about foetal alcohol syndrome from excessive drinking of alcohol during pregnancy, long overdue. So many afflicted already.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Diana

    The “Oooh she is AWFUL” camp is so sanctimonious. If this society really did care about children rather than simply mouthing platitudes, there would be universal childcare for all who need or want it, after school care, serious investment in public schools and teachers, paediatric care and hospitals, and affordable access to university and other tertiary education for those who want it.
    But no, we go along with obscene spending on military hardware; obscene tax breaks and anti-social behaviour by the rich and kids are … well, what are they? An accessory? A nuisance? An afterthought? This isn’t about pregnancy alone but the whole idea and fact of children.
    Chrissie Swan herself might learn to be a bit less judgemental of others after this, but meanwhile, she’s an addict who’s trying hard to combat that addiction. And she also has rights – unless you’re in the forefront of the campaign for a better Australia for all our kids (and few are at the moment) you have no right to judge her.
    She’s doing her best – it’s just not very good; but hey – who’s the Shining Light of Motherhood anyway?

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Robyn

    Hi Chrissie. I hope you get to read this. I stopped smoking back in May 1986 (25 years). If I had one now, when the occasional craving descends, I would be back, without a doubt, to my 20-30 a day habit. Ciggies NEVER LET YOU GO! EVER. It is really hard.
    You are doing a sterling job cutting it down to that extent and your big mistake was to have some ratbag paparazzi bust you. Poor girl. Remember the scout motto- just keep on the old ‘Do Your Best’. You (and your baby) will be fine. Every day is a new day.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    DJ

    My understanding is that the studies showing alcohol and nicotine can have a detrimental effect on an unborn fetus are based on mothers who were alcoholic or smoking a pack-a-day during their pregnancy. Am I wrong? And if that’s the case, surely you cannot extrapolate the results to a few drinks or the occasional smoke. I think you are right to assume that all the restrictions placed on pregnant women are just another attempt to control them.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    kazfromtas

    As soon as I heard this story I felt incredible empathy for Chrissie Swan, I knew the onslaught of criticism and vitriol that would follow. My empathy only grew as I watched her last night on the Project, she was so obviously humiliated and her shame was palplable.
    I vividly remember the scrutiny I felt when I was pregnant, everyone from family to strangers suddenly felt they had the right to question anything that they felt would impact my unborn child.
    I had a secret shame during pregnancy, to this day (my daughter is now 7 years old), the only people that know are my Husband, my parents and one friend. I didn’t smoke or drink, I didn’t eat sushi or soft cheeses, in fact I was overly cautious and consumed every book/website I could find and followed the precautions to the letter.
    But, I have an auto-immune disease which made my pregnancy extremely difficult. I had been told that I would probably never be able to have children, so when I found out I was pregnant our joy was unbelievable. The first thing I did was call my specialist and get an emergency appointment. My numerous medications were all contra-indicated during pregnancy, due to high risk of birth deformaties and miscarriage. My GP, numerous Specialists and my OBGYN formed a plan where I would stop all my meds cold turkey and I would be closely monitored. Unfortunately my body reacted in a very negative way. My joints seized up so badly that I couldn’t get out of bed and I was in constant, debilatating severe pain. So despite my misgivings I was prescribed panadeine forte, 8 tablets a day, and high doses of cortisone. To say I was resistant to the idea would be a major understatement, but the longer I tried to stay ‘drug free’ the more my body rebelled. I finally had to succumb. The doctors rationalised that the stress that my body (and mind) would be under would be far more harmful to my baby, not to mention by the time bub arrived the long term damage to my joints, tendons etc would make me virtually useless to my baby.
    I felt incredible shame that I was exposing my baby to such stong medications. Despite assurances from my doctors I worried every single day. I also learnt very quickly not to share my shameful secret. A very close friend was at my house one day and saw me take some tablets. She asked what they were and I told her honestly. Her judgement and obvious anger shocked me. She wasn’t interested in my attempted explanation, in her words I was being selfish and irresponsible. She had never taken so much as a panadol when she was pregnant, and there was no situation that warrented doing so.
    So for my entire pregnancy I hid the fact that I was on medication. I know that it’s not the same as smoking, which is an addiction. I am in no way addicted to my medications, unfortunately there are an essential part of my life. I currently take 28 tablets a day, plus I wear a morphine patch, which gives me a sustained release of pain relief. All of these meds make me able to function. They do not make my life pain free, far from it, but I can take my daughter to school (after allowing my morning meds to kick in), and pick her up after school. On a really good day I can go to the school for parent help, or even get down on the floor and play barbies with her. I do need help to get back up off the floor, I joke with my husband that one day I will get stuck and have to call search and rescue to air lift me up.
    I guess my point is this constant judgement and criticism of mothers has to stop. I never give unsolicited advice to any parent, I know they get more than enough from anybody and everybody the come across in day to day life. When I am asked for advice from friends, the only thing I will say is, do what works for you and your family. Whether it’s deciding to stay at home with the kids or go to work, breastfeed or bottle feed, cloth nappies or disposables etc, etc, if it works for you and your family then forget about what anyone else thinks or says and do what you need to do.
    I apologise for the lengthy post, but I really needed to get this off my chest.

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      helen b

      Kazfromtas..thankyou for this heartfelt story.

      I relate to the auto-immune illness and its challenges totally which is why I felt the need to respond. I have not been through childbirth with all its pain and joy, coupled with the pain and the guilt about taking the drugs.

      I hope you eventually ‘defriended’ the one who passed judgement on you. When we’re going through gruelling challenges, we need our own personal cheer squad.

      Nobody can pass judgement on others lives, even though we all have it in us, bred into the conditioning. If your friends can’t stand by you, without questioning your judgement and choices, then, in my opinion, they’re not friends. We all take actions which are not always understood by others. Our greatest gift to ourselves and our loved ones is to believe in them, have faith that whatever they’re doing is for their own learning, evolution.

      The stress factor is a huge factor in health, healing and recovery. I had the most wonderful doctor who supported me for years after I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease in y early 30’s. He wasn’t just a doctor. However, I never forgot him saying ‘your greatest enemy is stress’!

      Stress covers all dimensions, emotional, mental and physical as you would know. The guilt has to go. It is the most damaging emotion, That little girl of yours offers you a joy that you waited for.

      What I really wanted to say to you is bravo! for going ahead with the pregnancy, for taking care of yourself in the best way possible and for continuing on with playing with your child. Let her teach you to laugh again. Kids do that for us.

      On top of all that…thankyou for having the courage to write all this down for all of us readers. You are one brave woman and my heartfelt wishes go to you, your partner and your new precious child. She must have been one determined soul to have chosen you and your husband as her parents!

      All good things to come your way my dear. ♥

      • Reply February 7, 2013

        kazfromtas

        helen b:
        thank you so much for your message, it brought tears to my eyes. We are eternally grateful for our beautiful daughter, and she does bring joy into our lives every single day. Unfortunately we were unable to have any more children, but I’m so grateful to have her, and that she is such a healthy, happy, intelligent child.
        I did ‘de-friend’ that toxic friend, when I looked at our friendship closely I saw that she was a very negative influence in a number of ways.
        Finally best wishes for you with our shared auto-immune journey. It certainly is a roller coaster, and it’s very difficult for anyone to understand the stresses involved for both the sufferer and their family. I am very lucky to have a Husband who knew of my illness before we got together and chose to enter into a relationship with me anyway. He is such a wonderful, caring, supportive man and father. I also have a wonderful team of Doctors who go far beyond the normal patient/doctor relationship. As they say it takes a village!
        Again, thank you for your lovely reply, if only there were more people like you in the world, just imagine how different things could be :)

        • Reply February 8, 2013

          helen b

          Yes, Kaz. Let’s all keep imagining!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    Thanks,kazfromtas. I hope you have more days painfree, than in pain, and also hope you and yours are are able to surf these ups and downs.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Lisa

    One word RIDICULOUS, Chrissie is only human, let’s stop being so bloody judgemental.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Weesa

    Let the mother who is without any sin cast the criticism. Enough said.

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      Rosie

      Weesa: I was just about to make the same comment. I also reckon Chrissie Swan is carrying enough guilt without anyone else saying anything.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Nel Matheson

    The number of comments and the length of those comments on this issue demonstrates the point that most women are fed up to the back teeth with being the target of sermonising do-gooders. We need a little more compassion, a little more generosity, a little more caring in our relationships with each other as women. No more judging, no more petty fault finding, a bit more support and understanding. PLEASE! Thanks for a great article.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Mum of Adult Kids

    Umm… I realise that Chrissie Swan is a public figure, with her being on the radio and the telly and all. But can someone please explain to me why her private life should be anyone’s business but her own? Seriously. Move along people.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Weeze

    Great article,I agree that there is far too much judgement in this world.

    I would have walked out of that restaurant!
    Also, if the chef is going to refuse service, they should get it right. Hambergers (mince) should be cooked through, but it is perfectly alright to have a rare steak as the outside (where there would be any bacteria) is heated enough to be “sterilised” when put to the flame.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    freepussyriot

    My father and I discussed this at length today. He’s stoically patriarchal. To hear his opinion not only surprised me, it made me feel comfort that Chrissie is not judged badly by all. Growing up in a family of 8, Dad had 4 sisters. 3 of them smoked and drank during pregnancy. Never did he nor would he now (as times have changed) bring it on himself to shame a pregnant woman. “I don’t have any experience being pregnant, I also wonder how a woman under that much stress would cope, what would the stress do to her rather than the cigarette”. My father and I seldom agree on topics. Today we did.

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      Wendy Lown

      Lovely comment and cheers for your dad!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Harriet

    If some chef had tried to prevent me eating a rare – bordering on blue – steak when I was pregnant, I would most likely have bitten him.

    As for Chrissie Swan, I feel sorry for her – she’s never professed to be some kind of uber-mummy who never does anything wrong – in fact, one of her charms is that she’s just like the vast majority of women. Doing her best to raise her children to be the best they can be.

    Best word ever (shamelessly stolen from a comment on abc.net.au) is “Sanctimummies” – perfect to describe those po-faced women who never ever ever do anything that’s possibly “wrong”/

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Maureen P.

    Apparently it is just because she is a public figure, Mum of Adult Kids, just like Julie Goodwin was when she was snapped in a perfectly lovely cossie on holidays at the beach with her family.But being overweight, she was not supposed (according to the perfect people of the globe) to show herself in public. Bad role model not only for her children, but all the children and mothers of the world.

    All this ridiculous hoo-haa has probably driven Chrissie Swan to drink!!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    What I am about to tell, has nothing to do with pregnancy but everything to do withe shame,prevention and addiction. My dad , a retired doctor , a 50+ a day smoker had a massive heart attack. Advice to him , about fifteen years before his death, was smoke or die. For a while he gave up.All in the family thought he had given up smoking for good, including my smoking mother. Nope, he had fooled us and become a closet smoker with a propensity for chewing gum to cover the smell of his breath. I found this out because I had to recover his personal effects, including the contents of his car boot,when he died at the side of the road, near his vineyard. Umpteen packets of Camel and umpteen packets of chewing gum. Later, on going through his personal papers there was a copy of an article in an Adelaide newspaper describing him as “a Camel smoking doctor”. Family was the last to know.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Loz

    First a Japanese pop star publicly apologises for having sex with her boyfriend in a very public shaming. Now a few days later another media personality has to apologise for something that doesn’t affect the general public in any way. Dear me, did we suddenly take a step back 50 years?

    In my opinion, it’s something Chrissie needs to come to terms with herself and deal with the repercussions, if any. She need answer only to herself and her family.

    I’m sure we all have an opinion on this but frankly it’s none of our business.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    Yip.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Lighting up « blue milk

    [...] From Karen Pickering in The Hoopla: [...]

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Tina

    I know that mothers have smoked in the past, and most have been ignorant of the health risks to the baby,but now we KNOW the risks and so if women STILL choose to put the unborn baby at risk by smoking, who looks out for that baby?
    Society as a whole will have to,if it is born with disability or health problems.We as a society pick up the tab ….not really fair is it.
    Same story for other people who have illnesses related to smoking and then need expensive specialists and surgery to save their lives.
    Our health system is already struggling to cope with sick people who are not jeapardising their own health with self destructive behaviours.
    Emergency departments are snowed under every week with druggies and drunks who need to be “cared for” or saved.I felt furious when I had to sit in one and wait for attention for my husband who was writhing in agony from an inflamed gall bladder, while the docs were sewing up the face of a drunk man who got into a fight.
    I think it’s time to wake up and grow up.

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      helen b

      I hear where you’re coming from Tina.
      However, we are not all born the same, given the same level playing field in home, family, education, abilities, character, conditioning, values etc.

      Some of us are advantaged with a resistance to addiction, are not exposed to painful situations where our immediate reaction is to plunge into escape through drugs, grog, damaging behaviours…whatever.

      A society is only as strong as its weakest link. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to society that’s for sure. Unfortunately, not all of us are equipped to negotiate life with ease. We need to be looking at the source of addiction (we all have them) as an attachment that makes us feel safe and secure. Carolyn Myss has written about addiction as a given for all humans.

      It’s just that some addictions are more damaging than others…both to ourselves and society,

      This topic has taken off because it brings up issues of right/wrong, addiction and guilt. And the question of what’s the truth is pretty big too,

    • Reply February 8, 2013

      anne louise

      Yeah Tina. I’ll bet your husband was taken to hospital in a motor vehicle. Well they cause enormous cost to our health system too.
      Would you have a problem also with sports?
      Would you have a problem also with heaters in the winter?
      The construction industry?
      Candles, electricity, gas, everything heavy?

      Have a heart.

      People who drink and take drugs and end up in our emergency departments would have chosen perhaps your lifestyle, everything being equal. Because they live that life does not mean to say they enjoy it.

      But really this is a slightly heavier topic than Chrissie sneaking a smoke. Love to Chrissie. XXX

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    elle kay

    We are hard on each other because we are so hard on ourselves!

    Okay it’s not ideal to smoke and/or drink while pregnant but hey, just watch an episode of Mad Men and you’ll feel so much better!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    bugger that about society as a whole picking up the tab, it will be the parents or Mum. And for the uninformed, many who you might class as ‘addicts’ contribute a great deal to our communities, and society. Back off from the good ones who do this while dealing with their demons, in the best ways they can.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Ezy

    I f
    Missed the segment with Chrissy! The article is excellent. I know as a previous comment made, we smoked drank ate cheese fish seafood etc. my eldest turns 40 in a few weeks the others are in their mid thirties. All had a normal healthy childhood, I smoked during first one at first, not with the others. So what., when are people going to mind their own business, and stop telling WOMEN when they should keep a baby, have it, not have it, how to feed or not in public? Fr heavens sake, get a life people. We are very capable,and intelligent, and able to make choices and decisions without input from everyone else!!! I don’t necessarily agree with everything some women choose to do or not, so be it, THEIR CHOICE. I support their right to choose. The Public have a choice to turn away if they don’t like something! You weren’t invited to join in anyway!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    CountryKaz

    Great article. I agree with everything, except the reference to what we used to do in the past and how much worse it is than what we do now. We’ve all moved on from the 70s – I hope! But I do completely agree with not judging others. My philosophy on this is that anyone over 18 is an adult and is therefore responsible for their own life. I don’t interfere and I try not to judge, and I expect others to treat me that way too.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    and over-consumption of fats and gall bladder disease are related. No-one should have priority over anyone else in a triage situation except who needs care most.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Merryl Chantrell

    Leave Chrissie alone. Aren’t there more important things to concern ourselves with? The Media has a lot to answer for.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    commonsensegirlonline

    If anything was about to hurt Chrissie’s baby, it would be all this totally unnecessary STRESS so many people have put her through these past 24 hours. Surely some sympathetic understanding would have been the caring way to go combined with outrage against the stalking photographer.

    I am an oldie, but my mother, a smoker, had 5 perfectly healthy, intelligent, successful kids, way back in the “old” days when it was fashionable and perfectly acceptable for women to smoke through each and every pregnancy, (some were even encouraged to smoke to calm their nerves), eat whatever they felt like, drink whenever or whatever.

    Not that I am advocating that type of lifestyle for a pregnant woman, but really and truly, as KRudd said recently, “you all need to take a very long cold shower” (or words to that effect) and let the poor ‘preggies’ get on with things as best they can.

    My Mum, unfortunately, paid the price for her smoking, having a horrible death with emphysema; however, none of her children took up the habit. But her addiction was so strong, she was never able to give up the habit even looking death in the face.

    So I truly feel for Chrissie – she’s an intelligent, funny lady with an addictive habit which she is trying to break. For goodness sakes, lets leave her alone to get on with her incredibly busy life as best she can and enjoy this unexpected joy – it’s none of our business!!

    And as for being told in a restaurant what they would and wouldn’t serve up to me because I was showing as being pregnant – (how do they screen the ones who don’t show?), I would have turned on my heel in double quick time and left that establishment forthwith. An earlier respondent put it where it’s at e.g. the “bugs” are on the outside of the steak, not the inside, and hence would have been “killed off” with the cooking. I was married to a microbiologist for a long number of years and learned a few things about food – for example, eating an oyster or two would be far worse than eating a piece of rare steak, that’s for sure.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Aleta kuzilny

    That is such a beautifully written article and extremely sad … As I feel we have taken steps forward as women and twice as many back sometimes …. I also feel women need to support eachother more and not throw stones … And embrace our womenhood …we have a group called wise women warriors in Melbourne a group who women stand together and support eachother… We are certainly not anti men but pro women …. I love Chrissie swan … And I think I like you too

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Wendy Harmer

    When I was pregnant was under the care of a doctor ( well known on TV, actually) who said he thought it was perfectly OK to have the odd glass of wine or champers.
    He put it this way ( I won’t forget it) : “Wendy, millions of kids are born on the rubbish dumps in the Phillipines and in the most dire cirumstances around the world. Most of them are born healthy. I don’t think that a glass of wine now and then is going make much difference to your babies.”
    So I did have a glass now and then and was mighty glad of it!
    As for me – my birth defect (double cleft lip and palate) is thought to have been caused by the use of 245T ( a herbicide like Agent Orange) in the country environment my mother lived – used for spraying blackberries.
    Lesson is – getting toxic chemicals out of the environment is a cause we should all pursue. Thankfully 254T is banned now.
    Get toxic substances out of your home too (pesticides and chemical nasties) and give your kids the best chance to grow up healthy and strong. ( Apologies if this is a bit off topic).
    No wonder I married a mad Greenie who catches cockroaches by hand and feeds them to the chooks (Ergh!)

    • Reply February 7, 2013

      helen b

      Wendy, Great. More commonsense advice from you.
      My mother had many wise sayings including ‘everything in moderation’. She probably didn’t mean smoking, even though my father smoked his head off. I have come to understand the sense of this as I grew older. Hard when you’re young.

      Nevertheless, I think feeling content, happy and stress-free is probably the greatest gift you can give an unborn child. Mind you, this is not advocating a whole lot of known physically unhealthy habits. As my mum would say ‘be sensible’ but enjoy your life.

      I think we’ve become obsessive about physical health at the expense of well-being. Anyway, in the long term I think we’ll all discover it’s about belief.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Helen GEARY

    What ever has this confession got to do with anyone else ? Where are all the guilt-free perfect people, apart from those busily creating the do-gooder nanny state? Why do people feel they have the right to judge anyone else. Put the spotlight on yourselves and see how it feels…..and yes, I smoked during my pregnancies because that’s what we did in the seventies. I have two university graduates who are doing well, thank you, and no, they are not green and only one metre tall,. Will it soon be that pregnant women will not be allowed near roads and car exhaust, or to watch tv or use the microwave oven,?…. And certainly not be allowed near any flaming birthday candles, lest they be blown out. Let’s get over it, and move on and stop spreading fear and mayhem at every turn.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    Um, on so-called ‘confessionals’, and um, I am not a catholic or anything like that, presumably such a confessional, if that is what it is, is meant to be heard by those who would hear it~including you. Like being frank with your weaknessess. Meanwhile, yip, I heard it and I have no scorn for you and nearly an exhausted scorn left for those who really , actually, do bad bad things.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Olinda

    Such a good article. There is a Chinese saying: no family can hang a sign in the street saying ‘Nothing wrong here.’ We all have our struggles. Good wishes to you, Chrissie Swan.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Susan

    Who are we to judge. We do not walk in Chrissie’s shoes. She knows what is bad and what is good. I just can’t believe she stops at 1 a day? What strength or she loves it. Her choice.
    Stop the tears Chrissie you knew you would be caught you live in the media.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Nat

    While I felt sorry for the invasion of privacy, the horrid comments and the public shaming, I couldn’t help but remember when hosting can of worms last year, Chrissie swan encouraged a question along the lines of “how old is too old to breastfeed a child?” By doing so, she engaged in and encouraged judgement of mothers like me and her! Yes, it sucks to be on the end of what has happened to her, but at the same time, she has previously encouraged that same judgement in her work.

    I’m pregnant with number 2 now, after 2 miscarriages. I Breastfed my son till he was three, had a ceasarian, drank about three glasses of wine while pregnant and drank sometimes while breastfeeding and played hockey while pregnant, returned to it after having baby. Doing all the same (hopefully!) this time. Pregnancy doesn’t mean my life has to stop and I’ve well and truely stopped caring!

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Alana

    The time has come for the health warnings on tobacco products to warn of the 3 rd generation effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy and airway modelling, asthma etc

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Cath

    I agree with this so much, thank you for writing it. The SHAME lies only with the people who buy those stupid magazines that invade the privacy of public figures.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    ro.watson

    Meant weaknesses. Sure you all knew that, just like to self correct when and where I can.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Ann

    I have never smoked but I would never condemn a woman for smoking, drinking or eating rare steak while pregnant. These may be harmful to unborn babies but the impact of criticism of the mum is much more harmful . I was criticized for drinking black coffee last time I was pregnant. Pregnancy is tough enough, leave mums alone! What’s next, forbidden to drive or be a passenger in a car? Far mor life threatening, I suspect. They used to call the last stage of pregnancy confinement. Are we going back there? Doctors, nurses and mothers used to find smoking perfectly acceptable even in e maternity ward. So, lets tel the sanctimonious critics, leave Chrissie be, she’s doing the best she can, like 90% of addicted smokers, she doesn’t have a choice. Save your venom for the dealers.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Rhoda

    Nat, may I just say in defense of Chrissie that it is one thing to draw attention to a topic, in this case, how old is too old to breastfeed, but another to catch someone breastfeeding and discuss the pros and cons of her doing so as though she wasn’t there.

  • [...] then put in an extra twist no one saw coming. I wouldn’t change a word of their respective articles about the public villification of Chrissie Swan. But I would add a [...]

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Stephi

    I feel Chrissie is very genuine and her honesty is to be respected. She needs to never give up on giving up the habit. If you are planning to be a parent, and then when you become a parent, you must put the child’s health and wellbeing first. Smokers, I believe, have a missing thread in that they put their own health (and in this case abuse the health of their unborn child), they put the health of others inhaling their smoke at risk, and litter the streets with their butts. I hope she finally kicks the habit, I really do.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Juce

    Jo,you are not alone, I too have no idea who Chrissie Swan is.I will Google her later just out of interest.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Nat

    My point stands Rhonda. Why is it of concern to anyone other than the mother breastfeeding? The point of the article is that we all need to back off and let a mother decide things herself.
    She contributed to media encouraging society to judge mothers and now she is being judged. It sucks to be on the end of it. Trust me, having people tell you it’s disgusting to breastfeed past xy and z or you should be hidden away or asked to leave happens, only difference is Chrissie’s was very public rather than just in a public space, in front of other people.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Anabel

    I’m tired of babies in utero being ‘owned’ by the public but as soon as they start crying in cafes or art galleries they are quickly disowned by said public. A woman’s body is her own, as is her child. I’m sure most women want the best for their babies but it’s difficult and tiresome trying to keep up with what society believes to be a good mother. The judging has got to stop. We can vote, buy and rent property, and earn our own money. Surely we should be able to make decisions about our own bodies and babies without the criticism of others and, in particular, with the support of other women.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    Stav

    If she hadn’t been busted would we be having this conversation? Probably not.
    She got caught and that hurt.
    I think Chrissie is an articulate, beautiful woman. I’ve always admired her and also admit to being a bit jealous of her success.
    However, it saddened me to hear that she is smoking while pregnant. Sorry, but for me, giving that baby it’s best start is more important than succumbing to the nicotine craving.
    I gave birth to my daughter prematurely seven years ago and I remember sitting in the NICU with drug-addicted babies wailing their little hearts out. It was the most heartbreaking sound I’ve ever heard. I’ll never forget it.
    Illicit drugs, legal drugs, whatever the substance, it is WRONG to inflict that on a baby inutero. Chrissie has a choice. That unborn baby doesn’t.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    moiby

    @krispy – love your work.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    moiby

    P.S. And an important article, Karen – well done to Hoopla for publishing it.

  • Reply February 7, 2013

    soapy

    all this makes me laugh! all the people out there having a pop at this woman should take a good look at the fumes from their cars!
    Doing far more damage to children and unborn than ciggie.
    But its never mentioned.
    I wonder how many of the people who have slated this woman have at least two cars in the family?

    • Reply February 8, 2013

      anne louise

      Hoopla, we need a like button!

      • Reply February 8, 2013

        helen b

        anne louise! lololol! my thoughts exactly! We need a button so we can push the right button!

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Jo Curry

    Great article, love it!

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    lynda

    This is what we get after having 5 years of Socialism…longer in some states that the Conservatives are trying to turn around………..they want to control every aspect of our life….thank god Nicola Roxon is going and didnt get her stupid freedom of speech legislation through…..hurry up and bring on the Election…..

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Poppydoo

    I am so sorry for Chrissy. I had my babies in the 1950’s and 60’s. We had no restrictions. When we went to the Ward after the birth an ashtray was placed beside our bed so we could smoke. Restrictions started after the Thalidomide disaster.

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    sue Bell

    Lynda, we have never had a socialist government in Australia. Obviously you have no idea of the ideals of socialism therefore read before you write, find out what socialism really means. Throwing away lines “this is what we get after five years of socialism” leaves you open to being thought of as politically ignorant and it also means people will automatically dismiss your ideas or beliefs as being based on ignorance. I don’t want you dismissed but I do want you and everyone else, to read widely and challenge your own preconceived ideas, open your mind to a universe of ideas, you may find it delights you.

    • Reply February 8, 2013

      helen b

      Thankyou for writing this sue Bell. Quite right! I was so dismissive of lynda, I just wasn’t going to waste the time and energy.

      So pleased you expressed this for me. Beautifully said!

      • Reply February 8, 2013

        anne louise

        Hear Hear sue Bell and helen b.

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    JoanneH

    I too feel very sorry for Chrissie. She comes across to me as a genuinely big hearted person, faults and all. I think her smoking could be stress related to the battles she has had to lose weight.

    I had a really hard time removing the excessive weight that I had gained during my first pregnancy so when I discovered I was pregnant for a second time (in the 80’s) I went to Weight Watchers. I was surprised to see how many, including other pregnant women, were smoking to suppress appetite and before long I took it up too – just one now- and- then, to stop me reaching for a ‘forbidden’ treat. My weight control pleased my Dr. who told me not to have more than one or two cigarettes a day!

    My daughter was fine, and has always been healthy, but has told me she would have sued me had she not been! (her sick joke). I had difficulty breastfeeding, which may have been lucky as soon after the birth I rapidly become a pack- a- day smoker, and it took me a few months to give up the habit.

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Rhoda

    Nat, sorry. I did reply but added a link to an interesting story on Trove and it must have got deleted because of that. Just want to say I agree totally re mothers making up their own minds and am sorry if this kind of thing has happened to you. Can’t imagine what I’d do in the same circumstances.

    What I was trying to get across, unsuccessfully, was that smoking as an addiction is a topic like any other discussed here on the Hoopla but those bullying and humiliating Chrissie are not discussing addiction. They got personal in order to manufacture news and sell advertising.

    I will defend any woman against bullying of this nature.

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Kathryn Barnsley

    No-one seems here to be criticising the industry organisations that make billions of dollars from addicting people to a poisonous lethal product that kills 15,000 Australian every year, targets children and maims thousands, lies about the content of its product, deliberately increases the addictiveness and toxicity, destroys evidence in the middle of legal cases, engages in smuggling and racketeering, misleading and deceptive conduct, corrupts governments, bribes politicians – all of which is on the public record.

    Yet some people attack the individual woman who smokes.

    I suggest anyone who has a serious interest in tobacco control and its history should read “Golden Holocaust” by Robert Proctor and which came out a few months ago. He details the long sad and sorry history of the tobacco industry. And its perfidy.

    Leave Chrissy alone. Blame the real murderers – the tobacco industry that hooked her and thousands of others with their lies, deceit, and glamorous advertisements when she was a child.

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Nicola

    Without reading all the comments, I thought I’d add my own. I am pregnant at the moment, and I have not enjoyed the multitude of rules I’m supposed to adhere to across diet, activity etc. I’ve had the smoking/drinking alcohol discussion many times with many people over the last 7 months (for the record I quit smoking when I found out I was pregnant and occasionally have a glass of wine), and without fail someone will say ‘my mother smoked and drank with me’, inferring that our current zero-tolerance attitude to both is over reaction. This is a flawed argument at heart, which is clear if you apply the same logic to another issue. In the 70s, say, homosexual acts were banned by some governments, which certainly doesn’t justify discrimination against gay people today. We learn from the past (ideally), and it’s flawed to use the past selectively to support our arguments now.

    Also I have a friend who worked at a restaurant that was sued by a woman who argued that she lost her baby after eating something not suitable for pregnancy – so refusing to serve a pregnant woman meat that is not well-done could be an acknowledgment of a legal liability.

    Ultimately though it would be nice if we could educate people about health during pregnancy, and then leave women to make their own decisions.

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Helen

    I’m completey over Chrissie Swan confessing that her kid’s obese because she overfed him and guess what people she didn’t know overfeeding him would make him obese!!!??? and now she confesses she smokes and expects us all to say there there that’s okay! What planet’s she from ?

  • Reply February 8, 2013

    Rhoda

    It is dangerous to criticize people’s weight. Full stop. I just don’t go along with any of it. If governments want to address obesity they they should tackle the fast food corporations and the soft drink companies.

  • Reply February 9, 2013

    Jenny

    This is a complicated issue, because society does have an interest in the health of its babies. It isn’t only in the interest of the baby’s parents. Unlike other prospective mothers, I always welcomed the interest and indeed affection of other women in my pregnancies, including being touched by them. It seemed to me to be a lovely affirmation of the truth that it takes a village to raise a child and regardless that our modern society rejects the involvement of extended families in raising children, that fundamental interest and love is nonetheless expressed by women who may be strangers. It made me feel part of a community that cared about its babies.

    Well you can’t have that without some judgement being exercised occasionally, it seems to me. I do agree that parents are very hard on other parents and many should pull their heads in. Raising a child may take a village, but it is a demanding and difficult task and most of us do our very best. (Love is almost alll you need, and if they have that, most babies will thrive.)

    I wasn’t aware of the Chrissy Swan thing , but it seems to me her publicly shed tears represent all the tears we women and mothers shed for all the responsibilities we take on and meet imperfectly. It isn’t about social judgement, it’s the judgement we unjustly lay on ourselves.

  • Reply February 9, 2013

    Rhoda

    Nicely said, Jenny.

  • Reply February 11, 2013

    oldfart

    yes I know, this will be kettle calling pot black, but here I go;

    I think that maybe we should ban social media and go back to minding our own business, we might end up with a nicer society.

  • Reply February 12, 2013

    MUM'S THE DIRTY WORD

    [...] the back of the breastfeeding brouhaha and Chrissie Swan being caught smoking, there’s been a spate of articles and online commentary condemning the ‘mummy [...]

  • Reply February 12, 2013

    Lucinda

    All I could think was that poor car it must reek of cigarette smoke. Gross. How do smokers keep it a secret? it gets onto your clothes, into your pores, on your hair and into upholstery and roof linings of cars. A secret smoker … I dont buy that. It`s her life, her baby, her choices but I do find it amusing how many women esp mummy bloggers who are jumping on the Chrissie is a good mother bandwagon. Unless they are living in her house / her car 24/7 how the hell do they really know what she is like.

  • Reply February 13, 2013

    Catie

    When you’re pregnant, every choice you make for yourself, you make for your baby too. If you’re smoking, your baby is smoking. Giving up smoking IS hard. But the thing is, it’s not going to get any easier. There’s always going to be a reason not to quit. I know them all – I heard them from my own mother. I’m under too much pressure, I need to focus, I can’t be distracted by quitting. There’s NEVER a good time. It’s NEVER easy. I lost my mother late last year to a smoking-related cancer, and her death was the ONLY thing that stopped her smoking. It was torture, for her and also for me. By going public with her story, I hope we can all support Chrissy to kick this tragic addiction, before its inevitable tragic conclusion.

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