To the uninitiated, pregnancy may seem like an experience that is all sunshine and daisies, the way society insists on talking about it. A new life is being nurtured and the mother, the creator, captures the focal attention of all. She is showered with blessings, complimented on the way she is glowing, told and retold about how exciting it is that her family will expand. But what about the actual pregnancy journey she is on right now? Do we acknowledge it in full, complete with its highs and lows?
Recently, actor Sonam Kapoor announced she was pregnant with her first child, four years after her marriage to Anand Ahuja. In a social media post with pictures from her maternity shoot, the 36-year-old wrote, “Four hands. To raise you the very best we can. Two hearts. That will beat in unison with yours, every step of the way. One family. Who will shower you with love and support. We can’t wait to welcome you.”
The baby is due in the fall of 2022. More on that here.
Talking about her pregnancy, Kapoor in an interview with Vogue, opened up about the “difficult” first three months of her journey with some real talk. “It’s been tough—nobody tells you how hard it is. Everybody tells you how wonderful it is,” she said.
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Kapoor’s remark is interesting and exposes a bitter truth we conveniently choose to ignore most times. The nine months of childbearing are painted as a time when everything is – or at least should be – just perfect. For starters, the woman’s ‘moral duty’ of motherhood is reinforced by everyone around her. So part of people’s joy comes from the expected arrival of a cute bundle, and part comes from relief that the woman embraced what was the only natural next step after marriage.
How irksome would that idea be to a woman who has taken the liberty of choosing motherhood because it felt right for her!
The social burden of gender norms during pregnancy is supplemented by advice – usually unsolicited – from well-wishers instructing the mother about everything, from the right foods she should be eating to the million jobs that await her once the baby comes.
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Between all this, do we spare enough concern for the mother’s emotional well-being? Everybody has something to say about her physical health but is enough attention given to her mental health? Or do we conveniently neglect the more unpleasant aspects of pregnancy?
Sonam Kapoor pregnancy remark sheds light on how the journey to motherhood isn’t always pleasant.
From rushing to the loo every few minutes to navigating her way through the brutal fluctuation in hormones, an expecting mother has much on her plate. Things get messy, stress and anxiety for the future never ceases, the mental turmoil is crushing. But is anyone really appreciating these experiences that lie beyond the traditional commentary on how sweet and tender the pregnancy period is?
And god forbid if pregnant women themselves dare to share their grievances. They are dubbed bad mothers, their femininity is questioned, they are condemned before being given a chance. Isn’t it high time that we mature into having difficult conversations that aren’t afraid to recognise contrasting experiences? Where women are not censured for simply having an honest opinion? Letting her speak her mind freely would be one of the first steps to ensure a woman feels healthy and secure during her pregnancy.
Views expressed are the author’s own.