Apr. 30th, 2013

liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
This worked really well when I had to lead a seminar about obesity, so let's try it again. I've somehow been volunteered to run a first year session on childbearing and reproduction. It's a bit of a grab-bag of stuff, like a lot of our first year curriculum it's pretty much just introducing the students to the issues that exist. They will revisit this stuff later in the course, don't worry, we're not trying to teach them absolutely everything they need to know about childbearing in a single afternoon.

The rest of the module is about the actual mechanics of reproduction, conception, pregnancy, labour, foetal development etc. This session is about childbearing in social context. So, does anyone have anything they'd like me to convey to some future doctors about:
  • Teenage pregnancy and young parenting
  • Treated or untreated infertility
  • Involuntary childlessness (ie unwanted childlessness caused by not finding a partner or not being in life circumstances to have children, as opposed to physiological inability to successfully sustain a pregnancy)
  • Deliberately delaying childbearing for career and other economic reasons
  • Social gender roles and expectations affecting childbearing decisions
  • Cultural variation in all of the above
Like I said, quite a grab-bag, and to me the glaringly obvious hole in it is that there's absolutely no GSM perspective, but that's tied up with other stuff about the way the curriculum is structured (basically we don't really introduce complicated advanced concepts about gender and sexuality until the third year). Though at least there is explicit acknowledgement that this stuff is important for men, it's not purely a women's issue.

Me, I'm happily childfree, and I haven't even experienced much of the pressure to reproduce that some childfree women report. So I can't bring the same degree of personal experience I did to talking about the medical profession and fat people. But if there are any misapprehensions you would like me to address, or hurtful stereotypes and ways of talking about these issues that I should avoid, I'd be glad to hear about them! Again, I want to be very aware that these issues affect the actual students in the discussion as well as their hypothetical future patients; some of them are mature students who might have had any kind of life experience, a minority but a few of them are right now combining parenting with medical studies, and I shouldn't make assumptions that none of this stuff is relevant to the more "traditional" ie 18-year-old students straight from school.


Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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