There are plenty of questions you’d expect to answer on a preschool enrolment form, things such as:
Is your child immunised?
Do they have any food allergies?
Which days would you like them to attend?
Then there are questions you can’t help but wonder, ‘Why the hell do they want to know that?’
Mum Cara Paiuk was shocked to discover that the preschool she was applying to wanted to know if she gave birth vaginally or via c-section. One of her first thoughts was, “My vagina was not up for discussion by a stranger then, and it’s certainly not up for public examination now.”
Preschools aren’t the only source of awkward questions for mums. Check out what happened when these kids hooked their mums up to a lie detector and asked them some very tough questions.
Instead of blindly filling out the forms as most of us do – while shaking our heads and wondering what on earth they want with some of the information – she decided to find out why birth method was relevant to her five-year-old child. The answer shocked her so she wrote about her experience for the New York Times parenting section Motherlode.
The head nurse is quoted as saying, “the form was stored in the school nurse’s files so that if a teacher or other administrator perceives an issue with a child (presumably, a learning disability or behavioral problem), that person could pull the file and look for clues in the medical record that might explain the cause.”
Yes, we’ve read all the articles blaming cesarean births for everything from food allergies to autism too, but as far as we knew, none of it had been proven.
Could there be another, more sinister reason why they wanted to know how the mums of children at their preschool had given birth? Was it some kind of weapon they used whenever you dared to complain that they had returned your child to you with a Lego block glued to his head or a marble up his nose?
YOU HAD A CESAREAN, they might yell out, as though we are living in some sort of alternate universe where the now-common c-section births are viewed as some sort of failure on the part of the mother.
Yes, we’ve read those articles too, and just for the record, they aren’t any sort of failure. They are just another alternate birth method we thank God for because they have saved the lives of countless mothers and their children. One of those mothers is me and three of those children are mine (apparently I have an ‘abnormally small pelvis’ and even the smallest of my babies couldn’t fit through it…cue emergency cesarean as his heart rate continued to plummet).
Could that be why he has food allergies? Could that be why my second-born is autistic? Could that be why my youngest is perfect? Could that be why they sometimes misbehave?
According to Dr. Chris Pearson, Chair of the Chapter of Community Child Health at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, it’s not. “When you look at the literature there is nothing to suggest a definitive link between method of birth and behavioural problems later in life.” He added that if there were complications from a traumatic birth, the effects would show up in the first few days and weeks.
Phew. And here I was thinking that my daughter’s tendency to forget to hang her hat up at preschool before leaving for home was because her DNA was screwed up by the method of her birth.
The take home from this story is that if you find a question asked by a preschool or school intrusive, inappropriate or distasteful, you don't have to just answer it. You can question it like this mum did and then subsequently refuse to answer it, as this mum also did.
She writes, "Because I never received a satisfactory response from my school district, I decided to boycott the health history form altogether. So far, no repercussions (although I suppose it’s possible there is now a different note about my son’s mother in his file)."
Ha, pretty sure I have a few of those notes in my children's school files as well, and I can live with that.
Do you think it is reasonable for preschools and schools to know how you gave birth? Would you be comfortable sharing that information?