Alright, I'm going to say it: I hated being pregnant. The moments in which I actually enjoyed harboring a fetus for 40+ weeks were few and far between. I was miserable the majority of my pregnancy: violently nauseous, horribly constipated, and dealing with terrifying pregnancy complications that made the entire experience far from ideal.
However, I felt some subtle yet palpable shame and judgement when I voiced my discontent. As a woman, I'm told that I should love being pregnant. I should feel in touch with my femininity, like a life-giving goddess who feels one with her body in a way she has never experienced before. Yeah, whatever. That didn't happen. I mean, not even close. And because that didn't happen, I was made to feel — by other mothers, by men who couldn't possibly understand what it feels like to get pregnant, and by society in general — that I was defective. Something must be wrong with me if I don't enjoy the one thing my body is supposedly (according to what we're taught) made to do. Many people assume that if you hate being pregnant, you'll hate being a mother. Others believe that you're not thankful for the ability to procreate in the first place, as there are plenty of couples who would love to (and sadly, cannot) get pregnant.
But the truth is, there's absolutely nothing wrong with truly hating being pregnant. It doesn't mean you're going to hate motherhood, it doesn't mean you're a defective woman, and it definitely doesn't mean you're not thankful for the opportunity to reproduce. It just means that, yeah, pregnancy can be miserable, and you don't have to enjoy the bad parts — or really any part — of losing control of your body to a growing summer squash.
So, with that in mind, here are 10 reasons why women who hate being pregnant should talk about it more. Because those of us who didn't appreciate pregnancy, aren't alone, and there's no reason we should continue to feel that way.
Women Shouldn't Feel Alone In Their Experiences
Even though an estimated 49.6% of the world's population identifies as female, being a woman can feel hopelessly isolating. There's constant pressure to adhere to certain characteristics that society has convinced far too many of us, make a person "a woman." It seems that "loving being pregnant" falls into that category. But the truth is, a large percentage of pregnant women can't stand being pregnant. Not enjoying pregnancy is a relatively normal experience, and a woman who can't stand her 40+ week journey shouldn't feel alone in a feeling what many other women share.
Pregnancy Isn't The End All Be All
Pregnancy isn't the only thing a woman can do. It's not the end all be all of a woman's existence, and while it is miraculous and downright fascinating, it doesn't have to be worshiped as the best thing a woman could possibly experience. Because, for many women, it isn't. For example, while 70% of pregnant women experience morning sickness, an estimated 20% of women will receive care for Hyperemesis Gravidarum, severe morning sickness that can last the entirety of a woman's pregnancy, often requiring hospitalization. I don't know about you, but I couldn't possibly enjoy throwing up every day (sometimes multiple times a day) for 40+ weeks. I don't even like your run-of-the-mill hangover.
No One Should Feel Defective
You're not broken if you don't enjoy pregnancy. You're not "less of a woman" or "ungrateful" for being honest and open about your own experiences, and your reactions to them. It's time we stop talking about what "real women" like, as if there are cyborg women running around in human women's clothing, pretending to be human women just for the hell of it. If you identify as a woman, you're a real woman, and every feeling you have is just as valid and vital as anyone else's.
Pregnancy Doesn't Need To Be Glamourized
Let's face it: Pregnancy can suck. I mean, it can just be downright awful and miserable and anything but pleasant. Pregnancy isn't just a woman with a flower crown, glowing with fertility as she walks around some enchanted forest. For many women, pregnancy is a woman with constipation, sweating from her extreme nausea as she makes her way from her bed to her bathroom and back again. Glamorizing pregnancy holds women to an unrealistic standard, in which the realities of growing, birthing and sustaining life play second fiddle to an idealized, sugar-coated, and unhealthy fantasy (which usually puts an insane amount of emphasis on how a woman looks while she's pregnant).
Reproduction Doesn't Define Womanhood
The ability (or choice) to reproduce, does not a woman make. Neither does a woman's feelings about pregnancy. Just because a woman doesn't enjoy pregnancy, doesn't mean she's less of a woman, a "bad" woman, or a woman who's out of touch with her innate womanhood (whatever the hell that means). Womanhood is complicated and multi-faceted and vast. There isn't a particular criteria that an individual needs to meet in order to be considered a woman, and that definitely includes whether or not someone enjoys being pregnant.
Honesty Is The Best Policy
There are plenty of other, far more important things to worry about when you're pregnant than saving face. There's no reason to focus your time and depleted energy on upholding a specific standard or pre-constructed ideal. Pretending to enjoy something you simply don't can be unfathomably exhausting, so why not just be honest? Not only does being truthful eliminate stress, it also gives the people around you a somewhat silent permission to be honest with themselves (and others) as well. Honesty attracts honesty, and you'll want to surround yourself with genuine, authentic people as you journey into and through motherhood.
No One Needs To Feel Guilty
Guilt is toxic, and can eat away at even the most self-confident person. Instead of feeling guilty, you should honor your needs, especially if that need is to shout from the rooftops that pregnancy is horrible and you can't stand it. You shouldn't be beholden to someone else's feelings about procreation. Yours are just as valid, so there's honestly nothing to feel guilty about, and if you don't feel guilty, other women will realize that they shouldn't spend precious time feeling guilty either.
It Can Help Pregnancy Feel More Manageable
Instead of struggling to adhere to a predetermined, fictitious standard of pregnancy, being honest about your feelings can actually make your 40+ weeks of gestation feel more manageable. Instead of focusing on pretending to enjoy your nausea or constipation or endless doctor's visits, you can focus on making it through to labor and delivery and, eventually, life with a newborn. You'll eliminate an entire box off of your "to do" list when you decide that "pretending to like pregnancy" isn't something you should be doing.
Believe It Or Not, A Little Complaining Is Good For You
Yes, there are actually mental and physical benefits to airing out your grievances. “Complaining allows us to achieve desired outcomes such as sympathy and attention,” says Robin Kowalski, a psychology professor at Clemson University. In other words, complaining is good for you. You're happier, you're less stressed and you're more realistic about a particular situation when you give yourself permission to complain. So, have at it!
There's No "Right Way" To Experience Pregnancy
There is no "right" or "wrong" way to experience pregnancy, and trying to hold a wide variety of marvelously different women to one particular standard is not only unhealthy, it's ridiculous. Just like there's no one way to birth a baby, there's no one way to feel about being pregnant with a baby, and every woman should feel validated in her feelings when she's doing something as amazing (and, sometimes, as miserable) as growing a baby.