Being pregnant is tough. Living up to the stereotype of the perfect pregnant woman? Impossible. Amy Richards reminds mums-to-be that they’re already doing it perfectly.
The perfect pregnant woman… knows not to eat for two. In fact, she gains just the right amount of weight so it will be easier to shed post-baby. You can’t really even tell she’s pregnant from the back – her bump is just so neat. She exercises regularly, just as the doctor tells her. She takes all the right vitamins, and eats a healthy, balanced diet. After all, what she eats, the baby eats, too. She has had a little bit of sickness, thank you for asking, but it’s really not been so bad. She doesn’t even really miss alcohol – she doesn’t think she could stomach it now, anyway. She’s taking it easy, slowing things down, listening to what her body tells her. Her skin is glowing and her hair is thick and shiny. In fact, she’s probably never looked better. So much so, that she’s had a (tasteful) maternity shoot to show off her pregnant belly in all its glory. She’s planning to breastfeed, of course (“it’s just so much better for the baby”) and she’s just in *awe* at what her body can do. It’s kind of magic, you know?
She also doesn’t exist.
The Guilt of Motherhood
The problem is that, like with pretty much everything else women do in their lives, there are completely unrealistic expectations put onto expectant mothers and the myth of the perfect pregnant woman is not helping. I thought that the guilt of motherhood would start the first time I accidentally bumped my child’s head, or the moment I really couldn’t stop them crying, but in fact the guilt starts almost immediately. There was that glass of wine you had last week when you didn’t know. There’s all the late nights and the dirty takeaways and the lack of exercise and all of the other things that you do that you know you shouldn’t but life just gets in the way of being healthy and organised 24/7. We all have our vices, but the moment you get pregnant, suddenly you’re not only a bit of a mess if you don’t get yourself together, you’re also a bad mother.
It’s not just your behaviour that makes you feel guilty; there’s also the pressure to have the perfect pregnant body. With everyone from celebrities to your old school friends on Facebook posting glamorous maternity shots across social media, we all know what the perfect pregnant body should look like, right? It’s basically the usual bullshit that women have to deal with, but in a different wrapper. So big tits and a cute little bump but still with a small waist (how?!) and slim legs. Oh, and you should still be stylishly dressed and well put together, even when you’re doing everything you can to keep from vomming on the bus to work. Everyone’s body is doing different things when it comes to pregnancy, with different bits growing at different rates and strange occurrences & pains happening on a daily basis. Ultimately, your body is creating life from almost nothing, so it’s allowed to go a little haywire at times (even if you want to tear your hair out at rogue acne, back aches and sore boobs… to name but a few ailments).
The pregnant woman is no longer her own person – she is the carrier for the baby inside and therefore should be living her life solely for the good of her child.
Don’t Listen to What People Say
The pressure doesn’t just come from your own expectations, of course; you’d be surprised how open people are with their opinions when they know that you’re ‘with child’. The phrase ‘you really should…’ really shouldn’t come out of anyone’s mouths when it comes to your decisions around your body but, just as strangers feel compelled to touch your stomach, they also feel compelled to tell you how you should eat, relax, look and wear. The pregnant woman is no longer her own person – she is the carrier for the baby inside and therefore should be living her life solely for the good of her child.
Of course, that isn’t true at all. You don’t cease to become a person just because you’re pregnant. You’re allowed to have conflicting feelings about being pregnant, about becoming a mother, about your body changing. You still get to live your life and make the choices that are right for you – even if that sometimes means pizza takeaway on a Friday night and skipping pregnancy yoga in favour of a night in front of the TV. Everybody’s pregnancy is different, and whilst some may feel like a beautiful warrior goddess throughout, there are probably just as many that are tired, stressed and not feeling their best. And that really is okay, no matter what people say. Forget the myth; if you’re pregnant, you’re already doing it perfectly.
Have you found yourself struggling with the myth of the perfect pregnant woman? Let us know how in the comment section.
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