I am humbled at how little I knew about pregnancy. Even as a yoga teacher and someone who has been working with the body for many years there is so much I have had to learn. I hate to admit that I only recently realised what a placenta actually does and looks like (it’s a magical thing). I keep wondering, Why didn’t I know about this? Why didn’t I learn more about the realities of birth before I joined the ‘pregnancy club’? Perhaps this is why I feel compelled to share some of my findings here. Going through this process with my eyes open and asking questions has taught me so much about women, how we have been treated in our western society, and our true human nature.
An uncomfortable insight that I have had is that I was so much more attached to my body being slim than I thought that I was. I was attached to how it looked and felt. After years of ‘working on myself’ I had just about learnt to love my body, but only when it felt and looked a certain way. The love I had for my body was conditional, dictated to me by fashion magazines and Hollywood films. When suddenly I got a little softer and rounder I felt some resentment and resistance to me getting bigger and taking up more space. After grappling with this realisation for a while, quietening some of the negative self-talk, I am slowly embracing the curves and idiosyncratic kinks that come along with being pregnant, honouring the bold and beautiful shape of a woman.
In my first trimester I felt disheartened at how fragile and sick I felt. Then I realised, wow, I can still actually move around after months of vomiting, being permanently nauseas and dehydrated. A woman’s body is amazing. Not only have I been growing a human and another organ (the magical placenta), some days I did it whilst only consuming a bit of toast and ice cubes. I couldn’t believe it was possible, I was sure I was going to break. But I didn’t. And now I see, having been to that edge, how strong my body is. I had no idea how much potential a woman’s body truly holds, her resilience and endurance and capacity for creation is phenomenal. Whether we have a baby or not, we each have great power and creative potential that we can channel.
“…the statement that men are stronger is true only on average and only with regard to certain types of strength. Women are generally more resistant to hunger, disease, and fatigue than men.” - Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
I’m not saying that men are not strong too, of course they are, I just feel that the message I received as a young woman was that men were stronger than me. And I don’t believe that to be true anymore. We look different, we have different bodies, we have different strengths. And we are equal. We need to share this message with the next generation - to value all the qualities of strength we hold as humans.
I know that I have much to learn and am excited about this journey and new challenge as I expand (literally) and open up (literally). I hope and pray that I remember to stay curious and to own the innate power I hold within.
After writing this blog I happened to come across Stella Creasey’s article in the Guardian about what it’s like being a pregnant politician in the U.K., I suggest reading it to get an idea of what policies our government has around maternity.