If your only understanding of pregnancy and childbirth is what you’ve seen on television, get ready for a rude awakening. When I first got pregnant, I thought it’d be a breeze. I figured I’d do prenatal yoga and eat “healthy” so I wouldn't gain weight. I figured my doctor would know what to do regardless, no questions asked. I assumed I’d puke a couple times early on, have some weird cravings, and that would be that. Yeah, that's not reality. Not even close. In fact, there were times I wished pregnancy was just like it's portrayed on TV, because real life definitely doesn't come with laugh track.
Of course, I had some pretty complicated pregnancies, so my reality wasn't necessarily what you would consider "normal," either. I experienced intermittent bleeding during my first pregnancy, followed by preterm labor. I lost my first baby as a result, which is not exactly standard, either. Some shows have begun touching on issues of pregnancy and infant loss (like This Is Us and Grey’s Anatomy), but I didn’t see anything close to those recent representations until after I lost my daughter. With my second pregnancy, I was considered high-risk. This is something rarely spoken about on TV shows, though reality TV star Kim Kardashian has experienced placenta acreata, making any future pregnancies high-risk. We do see more over-the-top scenarios (like babies being born in elevators, like Mrs. Belding on Saved By The Bell), but in real life, those scenarios are much more rare than, say, preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.
While I certainly don’t wish to experience giving birth in a car or during an earthquake or some other catastrophe, here are some of the pregnancy TV tropes I wish were actually legit (at least, for me).
When There's Always Someone To Buy What You’re Craving At 4 A.M.
OK, so some of us have had the luxury of having super supportive partners to assist us when a craving strikes. Now, I never had any weird cravings (like Maria on Sesame Street wanting to indulge in “Grouch cuisine,” which happens to be marshmallow sauce over fish).
However, I did crave things like garlic rolls and ice cream (not together, though) and while my husband did his best, it wasn’t always possible to buy what I was craving where I lived. Then, of course, there are the pregnant people who don't have partners. See? Not always realistic.
When A Pregnant Woman Doesn't Gain Any Weight
Jennifer Garner on Alias. Rachel on Friends. These ladies managed to stay completely svelte well into their TV pregnancies. Hey, that’s totally cool and all, but can we show more moms-to-be gaining some actual weight while pregnant? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about half of women gain more than what they need during a pregnancy (which, hey, it happens!), so why not show that more in popular culture?
When There's Not A Single Sign Of Increased Gas
I know farting isn’t sexy or whatever, but it happens. Especially during a pregnancy. Farting and burping? It's all legit, so why not show it?
When A Pregnant Woman Has Plenty Of Energy
In case you're not aware, pregnancy is exhausting. Still, we tend to see pregnant persons doing all sorts of wild stuff. Anyone that remembers Xena: Warrior Princess may recall that Xena was pregnant but still fighting and doing back flips like it’s all good. Yeah, not very likely.
When There's Only One Type Of Morning Sickness
It seems that most pregnant women on TV experience nausea that sends them running to the bathroom to puke, right? But it's often only, for, like an episode. Personally, I never puked due to morning sickness, but I did feel nauseated and miserable for the first four or so months of my pregnancy. They rarely mention how sensitive many of us become to smells, or any experience with hyperemesis gravidarum.
When A Woman Can Hide Her Pregnancy For An Extended Period Of Time
When someone on TV needs to hide a pregnancy, they sure can hide it. I'm not sure if people around them just don't notice or they've found some super secret wardrobe or what. It is odd, though. I can't imagine being able to hide any of my pregnancies for longer than a month, though I guess if your experience lacks many common symptoms you might be able to get away with it for a bit.
When No One Experiences Prenatal Depression
We really need more depictions of prenatal depression on TV and in movies. I think it would help a lot of women who don't realize that it's actually fairly common, affecting roughly 1 in 5 pregnant women, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Because yeah, not everyone is glowing and happy while pregnant, or just hormonal and bitchy (which would be the flip side trope).
When Every Pregnant Woman Has An Understanding Boss
Pretty sure everyone collectively groaned when they saw the final season of GIRLS when (SPOILER ALERT) Hannah gets hired for an amazing teaching job at a university while heavily pregnant. Many women struggle to continue working while pregnant. Some can't for health reasons. Some get fired for a number of reasons bosses can legally claim, but are usually a front because, well, they don't want to deal with pregnant women and/or maternity leave. Let's show other versions of this story, please.
When Money Is Never An Issue
Y'all, why aren't more people freaking out about the high cost of bringing a child into the world? It is expensive to be a parent. Not everyone has a rich relative to foot the bill, or lives in a magical town where everything is insanely cheap or the town comes together to help with finances.(I'm looking at you, Gilmore Girls. How did Lorelai ever afford that massive house?!)
When Your Pregnancy Has A Deeper Meaning
"Baby as a savior" is a pretty common trope. In the X-Files (SPOILER ALERT), Scully’s baby is born and it's such a mystical event that there's a freaking star that guides Mulder (and a crew of aliens) to find her.
In Game of Thrones (MORE SPOILERS), babies are important as the heir to a throne (or like the Khaleesi’s baby meant to be the “stallion who mounts the world”). But let's face it: most of our kids are awesome and mean the world to us, but they aren’t all going to “save the world” necessarily (and y’know, that’s OK).
When Babies Mean Happily Ever After
I really kind of hated how Parks and Rec (SPOILER ALERT) threw a random as hell multiples pregnancy onto Leslie Knope because, um, why? I’m still not sure. Apparently, though, her having all these babies on top of her being a super career success and getting “the guy” meant she finally “had it all.”
Gossip Girl (SPOILER) also ended with a "baby ever after" for Chuck and Blair. Just like we want to see the guy get the girl, or vice versa, we apparently also need them to have babies so everything will be "perfect." Except, you know, not really. Babies are awesome, don't get me wrong, but they are also lots of hard work and your life doesn’t certainly just become perfect because of them. Let’s stop with that, eh?