El “código ético para el tratamiento del embarazo el parto y la maternidad”, ahora también en inglés


Code of ethics for treatment of mass media information on pregnancy, births and motherhood.

Journalism best practice manual

The proposed information treaty has been created and written by the women attending the Cafe para Madres, a cultural space for deliberations and discussions, since the year 2013, organized by the Association for Imperfect Women and Skolastika in Bilbao, Spain. This group gets together to define and discuss every individual, ideological, cultural or political experience, women have during motherhood.

Our reasons are: 
  • To make evident the complex reality of maternity, fleeing topics and disassembling idealizations.
  • To propose a more balanced motherhood for the whole of society
  • Help each other and stick together, as mothers and non mothers, so a free choice is accepted.
  • To accept other kind of experiences of motherhood and together review the existing literature on the subject.
  • Try to create new types of motherhood to help us cope with a social situation that evolves around two ideas that are difficult to conciliate:  the old fashion family type in a society immersed in an exacerbated consumption practice.
One of the recurring subjects addressed by the group from the beginning, has been how pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood are treated in the media, usually resulting in depicting a false reality that is too idealized. The media tends to present motherhood as a problem or an idyllic situation.

To end this misinformation - as this creates violence, frustration and guilt, is why this working group has been created: to make the mass media responsable for their messages.

 The purpose of this document is:
a) To give motherhood the proper importance:  traditionally pregnancy, birth and motherhood were considered minor affairs (something women do naturally or something that must be hidden), although being the most universal human problem ever, as everyone is subject to this debate.
 b) to promote changes in the treatment of information concerning pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood that is sometimes published in the mass media.
c) notoriety; we reclaim that motherhood deserves to occupy the space that it should, as in peoples' privacy, society and in political and economic organizations.
d) Invite people to consider exposing for discussion any subject that has been held secret.
We propose to reach the goal of these 10 liabilities :

  1. To not use the term "maternal instinct" in main stream information, since this has not been empirically proven.
  2. To always avoid general terms as pregnancy, childbirth and maternity which are seemingly homogeneous to all women, whereas there are differences.
  3. To not identify motherhood with a woman's success.
  4. To not use the term motherhood as a moral evolutionary phenomenon, which might suggest that being a mother is a step towards the  fulfillment of a woman (demonstrating that they are "better persons" or "are more complete" compared to non-mothers who may seem faulty or incomplete).
  5. Avoiding comparisons between women as mothers and women who are non mothers.
  6. To present the body of a pre-mother or mother with imperfections as something that needs to be corrected. It is advisable to treat always with respect the physical changes that occur in the body of the mothers, or in the bodies of mothers to be.  To do this:
    • To not give obsessive references to the bodies or silhouettes that mothers have during pregnancy or after birth; to not do value judgements on appearances.
    • To avoid comparaisons between the physical look of the postpartum mother, with her previous figure before pregnancy. So that no images which could be morbid or vexatious are made.
    • To not appraise the "fast recovery" of any woman who has given birth, nor associate postpartum recovery with "you no longer look pregnant" as though she never would have been pregnant at all.
    • To not give any value judgements to the future mother as "how are you getting along with"   your pregnancy, as giving value to only physical appearance, her own image. 
    • To not take in consideration the dress mode of the pre-mom as a sign of the state of mind of the future mother.

  1. To run away from topics, namely as:
    • Pregnant women do not "show off their tummy" but they wear it as they can.
    • Childbirth, the arrival of a son or daughter in this world, brings many changes, obviously, but there are no "magical powers" that are an attribute to this event. Expressions such as "life-changing", etc. objectifies mothers, seemingly making them not responsible for these changes, although they are the active agent in all these transformations.
    • To not present mothers as someone with a special sensitivity, a halo of divine wisdom and almost divine strength, with a knowledge above other mortal beings. 
    • To never define women with children as super heroes (they know what their children are thinking, they know  where everthing is, they know how to fix everything, etc.)

  1. To never present men as someone who shares pregnancies and / or who delivers babies. Until this present day, we women are exclusively the ones who give birth to children, and therefore we will always be the subject of this information. Women (with names and surnames), and only us, are the ones that become pregnant, who usually remain nine months in this state and who loose the child in case a spontaneous abortion occurs, for example.
  2.   To never place mothers in an inferior position of dependency as with sons / daughters / family.
  3. To never deny the desires and wishes of mothers. And to state as "natural" the compliency of her desires and her will, to suit the desires and wishes of others.
+1 Recommendation:
Open a social debate on the situation of mothers in workplaces, in family environments, with the specific problems they are going through, their work demands or their lack of services and assistance.
Café para Madres 
Bilbao, May 2014

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