Motherhood may be great, but pregnancy is more pain than pleasure
“Don’t take any stress when you’re expecting!” — a stressful comment every pregnant woman has to hear at some point — because everybody knows pregnancy is a low stress endeavour.
On the contrary, the question we should be asking is; do pregnant women have any reason not to take stress?
A lack of emotional support or being surrounded by negativity during one’s pregnancy will always be accompanied by high levels of stress, which directly affects the woman’s health and through her, the baby’s health as well.
These stress levels automatically increase if you are pregnant and if you are a working woman as well. In such a case, one should be prepared for the physiological, psychological and emotional challenges that lie ahead, including the likelihood of discrimination in the workplace.
Numerous women are treated unfairly by their employers because they are pregnant. Perhaps because their employers are men who are uncomfortable with pregnant women or perhaps because they feel that during this period pregnant women tend to lose their enthusiasm towards work. No matter what their reasons may be, it is unfair and illegal to discriminate against women solely for being pregnant.
There are several countries, including Pakistan, where laws have been passed to ensure that employers cannot demote or terminate any permanent employee during her pregnancy, as long as she is willing and able to perform her job. Due to the work culture and a poor legal system, however, women here are often reluctant to contact the authorities or seek legal help when facing discrimination in the workplace.
Unfortunately, this constant worry does not end here. A pregnant woman, working or otherwise, is repetitively tackled with a flurry of questions. People often say things such as,
“Oh, you are glowing! You look beautiful!”
“What are you craving? I used to crave ice cream.”
“Is the baby kicking? Can I feel it?”
Human curiosity is natural, but the questions can quickly go from being well-meaning to annoying or offensive, such as,
“Are you going to stay at home with the baby? Won’t it be difficult to leave the baby and go to work?”
“I pray to God you have a baby boy! Don’t you wish it’s a boy?”
“Oh God!” one wants to yell, “Shut up already!”
It takes a lot of patience for the pregnant woman to come off as relaxed, pleasant and indifferent, which of course she needs to seem, since one should not stress when expecting.
This isn’t it though. People are way too generous with their pre and postnatal pregnancy suggestions. Contrary to popular practice, pregnant women do not like it nor do they want people to give suggestions, especially if they themselves haven’t experienced pregnancy first-hand.
It is common knowledge, yet it needs to be reiterated – pregnancy is hard for a woman.
The lower body pressure is constant, bringing with it lots of back pain and reducing one’s mobility significantly. Add to this some depression and a lot of nausea. It goes without saying that more often than not, a pregnant woman will feel pretty helpless.
Support from loved ones is undoubtedly extremely helpful. Be it getting pampered by one’s partner or by friends and family members who may help out with domestic activities or in taking care of existing children while the pregnant mother gets some time off. But what plays an equally important role in restoring composure and tranquillity is pampering oneself.
So what can pregnant women actively do to relieve some stress?
The simple answer is do whatever relaxes you and leaves you in a positive frame of mind. This could mean resting on the sofa and watching TV as you enjoy a tub of ice cream, or it could mean doing prenatal yoga to release stress and calm your mind as well as your body.
Ultimately, a pregnant woman needs to enjoy the journey to motherhood. Ridding yourself of other people’s expectations and ridicule is important to stay positive, and staying positive is important to focus on the drastic change about to take place in your life.
The pain is not something one looks forward to, but once you hold your beautiful baby in your arms, nine months of stress and worrying quickly fade away into the background.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.