My Reflections on Being Pregnant
I’m pregnant, seven months to be exact. Being pregnant is a wild ride. The reason that pregnant women (and partners who helped make it happen!) like to talk about it with other pregnant people is because in reality it is so weird to actually grow a human being inside of you! I mean all the things you learn when you’re pregnant about being pregnant are really eye-popping.
It’s hard to breathe and sleep. Your body produces way more blood and therefore your gums bleed when you’re simply brushing your teeth. Relaxin forms in your body to start loosening your joints for labor, but at the same time your knees and ankles loosen too so you feel like an old person. I told my nearly 67-year-old Dad the other day that I can better relate with is massive ankle joint pain and lack of flexibility. He has to tie his shoes with his ankle propped up on his other leg because it’s hard to bend down to tie his shoes. I have totally copied this pose because I can barely bend down with the pumpkin size ball in my belly.
But beyond all the physical stuff, it is really an experience from a cultural standout (especially for me as a gender advisor). People treat you differently, a lot kinder in some ways, but at the same time everyone wants you to be cautious which I find a little patronizing. The other day I was washing my windows from the outside of my house on the second floor – and just to be clear there is a huge sturdy porch roof that I was standing on. Literally every person who walked by (mostly my neighbors) told me to be careful. Would they have said that if non-pregnant me was up there? I doubt it. But I know they mean well. People are shocked I travel as much as I do. I feel like people just want to send me home to wait in my room! I’m actually in Berlin, Germany right now speaking at a few conferences. But this is my work, it’s not going to stop. And this is me – this is how I choose to do my pregnancy, and every woman should feel good to make her own best decisions. But it’s not what you read on the internet or hear from others.
Given all of this, I thought I’d share a few personal pieces of advice for you badass you who is now preggers, or one day may want to be:
1) Be Yourself, Because You are Still You – Your body may change, but you are still you. You aren’t some weird version of yourself. I had interaction with my physician that I did not like for a number of reasons, but partly because she said to me that I was not me anymore. --- Now you are completely different and you're body is defined by your baby. --- I call bullshit. I’m still me, but carrying my future kid! I may look a little different but my body and mind are very much the same. I have the same capacity, intellect, and ability I have always had.
2) Especially if its Your First Child – Keep Traveling! – I realize this applies most to women who are having a normal pregnancy and feel good, but I was thinking about it the other day that this is the last time in my life I will be alone. I’m fully embracing it.
3) Be an Advocate for Culture Change – Reframe other people’s minds about what it means to be pregnant. You are not disabled, you are not incapable of work or fun. Sure, there are a few more limitations, but you are still able to function and should be functioning. It is normal. I was speaking with a Lyft driver the other day about what is like for pregnant women in his home country. He is from West Africa from a rural village in Cameroon. I asked him, do pregnant women in your country work throughout their pregnancy? He said, of course! They carry their agriculture, water, and wood, right up until they deliver. It does not stop them; they are strong.
4) Work Out – This is by far my biggest piece of advice that has helped me feel sane, not super fat, and keep up my stamina. I train 1 – 2 times a week with my fabulous trainer Mahi, and then when I don’t train I walk as much as my feet will allow, do pushups and squats and home, and generally move. Being pregnant is extremely physical, so why not use the body God gave you to support yourself and baby as best you can. Again, I realize not everyone feels up for this, but I would highly suggest if you want to get pregnant and don’t already workout, start now. Prep your body and keep in going as long as you can.
5) You Don’t Need Everything Planned Out Perfectly – I do think it is very important to discuss post-delivery plans with your partner, if you have one. It’s really good to better understand each other’s expectations and preferences. For example, my husband wants me to breast feed as long as I can, and I want start working again as quickly as I can, but I will definitely take a chunk of time to focus exclusively on this new life in our family. At the end of the day, a lot of things will have to be decided when they happen. You are a smart person who will make it work – whatever the structure.
So, if you wind up pregnant, know that it will be weird and wild, but I’m behind you to do it your way. In the end, it’s your life, your baby, and your family. You’ll be great!