Sunday, 11 July 2010

Toast: a little shelter on a stormy day

Some births are blissful, some scary, some medical, some quick. Every woman has a tale to tell and she'll probably want to tell you if you give her an excuse. There's blood spattered agony, skin splitting screams and contractions that would empty a toothpaste tube in one go. So many different versions of the very ordinary miracle.

However, in the main, if the birth happened within the NHS, there will be something they'll share. It's the comfort of tea and toast.

Either before everything kicks off properly or after the storm is passed, you will be offered (or just presented with) NHS T&T. It will be one of the best things you've ever consumed. It won't matter that the bread is white and sliced and spread with marge, it's divine. Maternity wards don't just smell of milk, lochia, lilies and disinfectant. Mostly the air is full toast.

Now though mums at Glasgow's Southern General Maternity Unit are, instead, being offered "a roll, cereal or biscuits" because toasters are too much of a fire hazard. They set off the smoke alarms and the fire brigade has to come as a matter of policy as it's a hospital. This is expensive and tedious, apparently. So no toast for the ladies.

Don't the health and safety bods realise that not allowing toasters to pop as part of the post partum ritual is depriving mums of something important? A plate of toast and a mug of tea will be the one dependable and reassuring thing in the whole day. Surely it's possible to have a system whereby the fire brigade is phoned up and told it's just an over enthusiastic smoke alarm and a toaster again.

I was going to round off with a comment that even if a commonsense system couldn't be set up, a visit from a few firemen would surely cheer up the new mums. But I realised that would be sexist, objectify the fire fighters and not take account of the women in their midst, so I decided not to.

The pictures? Well elsewhere in the blogosphere Tara at Sticky Fingers runs a weekly photography gallery. I'm a very infrequent participant but this week her theme is Can You See What It Is Yet? So I thought these would do.


  1. Tea and toast is a comfort to everyone in a post-op situation, I've discovered in the past.
    And if the toast sets off smoke detectors, perhaps the detectors could be positioned somewhere more sensible?
    Toasters are used every day in houses across the land - houses which are equipped with smoke detectors - without incident.
    So why can't the Southern General cope?

  2. How ridiculous! My resident health and safety adviser who didn't have his common sense surgically removed at birth suggested several easy solutions which would allow women to have their tea and toast - moving the toaster or the alarm, or reducing the setting on the toaster among them.

    I completely agree that that tea and toast is the best and most comforting meal you can ever eat and exactly what you need after giving birth.

  3. This is ridiculous. That cup of tea and two slices of toast was probably the most welcome snack I've ever had in my life. Surely some toast making training for whoever is setting off the fire alarm is a better idea. I'd volunteer to do the training if they supplied their own bread.

  4. Good God, what narrow-minded nonsense is this? I hope the powers that be are going to redirect the funds towards buying copious amounts of chocolate HobNobs, or the birth rate is going to fall dramatically.


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