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Why Get Britain Fertile Misjudges Women

I was idly flicking through the news on my iphone this morning and I was peturbed and shocked by an article about the ‘Get Britain Fertile’ campaign for which Kate Garraway is the celebrity ambassador. Quite aside from the name that is just wrong on so many levels (what about those Britons that can’t get fertile?), it’s wide of the mark in many, many ways.

Kate Garraway fronts the deeply patronising fertility campaign

Kate Garraway fronts the deeply patronising fertility campaign

The aim of the campaign is to get women in their 20′s to think twice before delaying having a family. Because let’s face it there is not enough publicity about our biological clocks ticking, not enough pressure on women to procreate and of course it is all our fault that we are ‘leaving it late’ (if being in your late 30′s is in fact late). Because young men in their 20′s are gagging for kids aren’t they? Desperate to be tied down to a crying baby and a partner who’s got black binliners under her eyes, cellulite where she didn’t know she had body parts and a sex drive as high as a very heavy lead balloon. It’s great!

And of course all the publicity about the cheap, good quality childcare makes it easy to see how you’ll manage to continue working to pay the colossal mortgage you chewed off to live in your teeny tiny pontypine house. And then there’s the wonderful women at the top who make it all look so easy. Just lean in, work in the office 5 days a week and you’ll still be assured your seat at the boardroom table. Kids won’t get in the way of your career. Of course not, because you only had them to actually just say you had them. You never really wanted to spend any time with them did you?

It’s a PR campaign of course. From a fertility brand. Subtext “quick get on the job early and buy more pregnancy tests”. It’s cynical at best, distasteful and upsetting at worst. And here’s why.

Getting pregnant is not a decision that is solely down to a woman. A man does need to be involved. So lay off.
Getting pregnant is not something you decide to do and then bingo you’re up the duff. It can take years.
Getting pregnant is not a decision to take lightly. It’s the single biggest life change you will EVER experience. When I was in my 20′s I made many mistakes, not least with partners who were entirely unsuitable for me.

Society has changed in the last 50 years. All the fertility experts in the world cannot change the fact that people are getting hitched later, families are fragmented, many of my generation grew up with divorced parents. Many people don’t want to give up their independence. Sadly evolution has not gathered pace as quickly. Yes women are best placed to carry and give birth in their 20′s but this conflicts with the realities of modern life.

A spokeswoman for First Response, who are behind the campaign, Zita West said:

‘Britain delays motherhood longer than almost anywhere else globally and the average age of a first time mother has risen steadily over the past 20 years to thirty,’ she says.

‘The campaign’s aim is to educate couples on how to prepare for conception and take care of their bodies with up to date practical information.’

I had my first child at 34. I was not old, I was not deemed old by my midwife and I did not resent the loss of my carefree, childless life (ok sometimes, but only sometimes, mostly when I’m hungover).

And the second sentence is such blatant brand PR crap that I’m not even going to comment on it.

The pressure, the fear and the guilt associated with parenting is, in my view, largely propagated by the brands, ‘experts’and the media. I do find it disturbing that the pressure starts before you even get pregnant. You feel your biological clock ticking, you read that you’ll never have kids if you don’t get on with it, if you’re lucky you have a partner who wants kids too, if not then you have to start all over again pretty sharpish. And that’s painful. Then when you are pregnant the fear kicks in. Another story about cot death, another about not eating certain foods, another about stress. It all adds up and can make the calmest person anxious.

And then you become a parent and you have a whole new set of challenges to face. A whole new set of brands trying to get your attention and a whole new set of fears to manage.

So, frankly, First Response, just give us a break. It’s hard enough being a woman most of the time without extra guilt and fear being thrown at us. And the picture of Kate Garraway? It’s just odd. Not clever, not pretty, just odd.



  1. Eurgh. Just… Eurgh.
    Well said!!

  2. Well said! I’m so over the media right now. Xx

  3. How interesting. I would have thought from the headline (and you’re right, what a terrible line that is!) that it was a campaign to address health issues around people having fertility issues, not people choosing when to procreate! And it is definitely distasteful that the campaign is being done by First Response, not even the NHS. Very personal choice, and good grief, what a pickle is have been in if I’d had babies with the twat I was with before MrG!

  4. All sounds a bit silly to me. Teen mom = bad, 30′s mom = bad. Sounds like a narrow window of acceptance there. Cant we just accept everyone’s choices?! And 5 days a week? More like 7! And I don’t like that picture.

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