photo by Gerd Altmann
So it’s been a while again! I had to take my computer in to be repaired. While it was in the shop, I relied heavily on my phone. I have several apps regarding pregnancy—What to Expect, etc... They show fun pictures of what my baby might look like at this stage of development and what size fruit they are now. But, they also have various articles. And, one of them was, “What is it safe to sip on?” The example questions in the tag line were, a glass of wine or an herbal tea...
From the get-go, the article pissed me off. Like any mainstream agenda, it proposed that not even the tiniest sip of alcohol was safe to drink. And, since of course you were skipping the caffeine--another annoying assumption--you might logically lean towards a nice cup of herbal tea as a replacement. But, it warned that this was just as dangerous! Supposedly, the herbs are a stronger concentration in tea, not FDA regulated, and even ginger tea was known to cause fetal hormonal abnormalities. WHAT?! Even peppermint tea was listed as unsafe and I had been drinking that nightly!
I panicked. As, I’m sure, many would. I text my midwife in a hurry and thankfully she got back to me straightaway. “Fake news!” she told me and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. “Unless you are drinking gallons, you should not worry.”
I thought to myself, not for the first time, no wonder pregnant women are so riddled with anxiety—we are told that pretty much EVERYTHING is a danger to our baby!
Why do we live in such a fear-based society? Pregnancy hormones induce enough anxiety on their own; they need no outside help! Everything you do as a pregnant woman is now subject to public scrutiny. Your body has become this vessel for societal critique and control. But what business is it of anyone’s but our own? The only other person that should have any opinion whatsoever about what I put in my body is, maybe, my husband… and that’s only because it’s his child, too. Otherwise, everyone else can buzz off!
These apps were cute, at first, or so I thought. But, now I see them for the source of endless anxiety and fear that they are. I look at the lists of potential articles to read and 80% of them are fear-based articles, with lists of all the things that could possibly go wrong.
Another one that keeps getting me are the articles about weight gain. As a Western culture, we obsess about weight control and dieting to the point where young girls are indoctrinated with these values straight out of the womb. So, it is difficult to divorce oneself from that mentality now that you are pregnant. Which is why, naturally, these articles gain a lot of traction.
How much weight is too much weight? They even have graphs where you can put in your pre-pregnancy weight and your current weight and it’ll show you whether you are gaining too much too soon. I gained 9 pounds in my first trimester, which by their statistics is too much. You are only meant to gain 3-7.8. But, that is very difficult to do when you are suddenly hungry ALL the time and the hormones in your system are slowing your metabolism down. So, not only are you eating more, but you are digesting less quickly. And, to top that off, you are fatigued all the time, so exercise most days is completely out of the question. Not to mention, you have practically doubled the volume of your blood, your uterus has grown, you're constipated, and your boobs are growing… all of which adds weight as well!
How about, instead of making women more body-conscious than they already are at this incredibly vulnerable stage of their life, these articles focused on encouraging women! Sure, have some articles about eating healthy... about how many cups of fruit you need each day, how much protein, and different recipe and meal plan ideas to meet those requirements. But they should mainly just say, "You got this, girl! You can do it!" Because, frankly, I think that's all we really need to hear! Our bodies are BUILT to do this...
We need articles encouraging women to trust their bodies. Not adding to the pressure that we already feel (and have felt for our entire lives!) about gaining weight.
“If you are eating a varied diet with healthy food and exercising occasionally… don’t worry about it. Your body knows what it needs.” That’s what my midwife told me.
It is advice that I took great comfort in: your body knows what it needs. It's a powerful reminder. Our bodies were designed to do this, to bring life into this world. And there can be no graph that is right for every woman, it’s just not possible. Some women gain all their weight at the start and then taper off. Others are too nauseous and don’t gain until later. Whatever your body is doing, it is okay. There can’t be a one-size-fits-all diagram for us. We are all different!
So I have deleted those apps. If I want a cute picture of what my baby looks like at 17 weeks, I can Google it. I am far, far happier for it.
I'm Kelsey! Proud Iowan native, world traveler, writer, wife to the most incredible husband, and now soon to be mother