I’m going to deviate a little from my normal blog theme here, so apologies if you find this terribly boring, but I do want to draw attention to an issue especially close to my heart at the moment – the full, rounded, and full-of-life pregnancy body.
As I’m now in my 25th week of this amazing, life changing event and I’ve been watching my body change on an almost daily basis. In weeks 2/3 I suspected I was pregnant as by breasts were tingly and my tummy felt a little funny. From there, I watched as my breast swelled and my belly began to grow. My skin went through numerous (largely unattractive) changes, thanks to all the pregnancy hormones essential for supporting the life inside me.
Now, my belly is full & round and only days away from the belly button pop. I get weird symptoms on a daily basis; all part of my body adjusting to the growing life inside me. I feel my child squirming and kicking practically all day long (not sure when it sleeps yet!). I love the feeling of being so connected to my child. My body has completely taken over from my mind, changing and adjusting in every way to nourish and support my child. I feel powerless in the process as I watch my body change and my baby grow.
You’re probably wondering WTF is up with this love-fest? Yes, it’s probably aided by my influx of hormones, but I really am loving my body sick right now. For once, I barely glance at the cellulite (which pops up in extremes during pregnancy thanks to an influx of estrogen), pimples don’t seem to bother me (my body needs the hormones) and even my larger-than-normal thighs look sweet, hiding under my bulging belly.
And then I go onto pregnancy forums with other mum’s in the same stage as me.
“I feel fat”, “I hate how I look”, “Bump is too big/small/round”, “Skin is stressing me out”, “Stretch mark freak-out” “Will I get my body back?”…
I stare in disbelief.
We’re pregnant! Our bodies are growing life! Of course we look different and round! I want to scream at them all and tell them all they’re idiots.
As women, we are given the most amazing gift. The gift of being able to grow, deliver and nurture new life. Our bodies are perfectly designed for this task. When our body is ready, we prepares a fresh egg each month ready for fertilisation. If not achieved, we release that egg, cleansing our womb in the process. Even this is regarded as a negative.
“I hate periods”, “Can I take the pill without a break to skip this process?”, “It’s such a nuisance”
Of course with this kind of disdain for the fertility process fostered in our teenage years, no wonder we get women so unhappy with their appearance in pregnancy. It’s almost as though the whole fertility thing is seen as a curse. Don’t even get me started on the birthing process! It’s almost a right of passage to have the worst, most painful, longest labour. Women are judged when they say they had great labours!
What happened that we resent the one thing that makes us different, special and unique compared to our male counterparts?
In ancient times/non-western cultures, women were revered as bearers of life. It was acknowledged we had a gift and were treated accordingly.
I read an article on news.com.au this morning that stated, “a staggering 89 per cent of Australian women are opting to cancel plans, job interviews or other important engagements simply because of how they look.” While this doesn’t refer to pregnant women, it is indicative of what women are experiencing every single day. Body image seems to be underlying this self loathing.
I don’t know how to change this or what the root cause is. Of course I have theories, as you probably do as well. How do we change centuries of conditioning to hate our bodies? How do we change the way we view our femininity and the gifts that are bestowed on us?
The ability to get pregnant, carry life, give birth and then nurture a person is the greatest gift we will ever receive. It’s pretty darn incredible. Unfortunately there are many women who only dream of being able to do this, through no fault of their own. And there are also many women who choose not to go through this process, and that’s completely ok too (I do love personnel choice!). But the disdain for the whole fertility process is just beyond belief for me.
I’m not too sure of the answer or how I’m going to change perspectives on pregnancy/birthing, but for now I’m going to stand in front of a mirror and admire my amazing, life-holding bump