I often see pregnant mamas criticizing themselves for not keeping up with their non-pregnant workload and productivity level.
During my pregnancy I found I was beating up on myself for not being able to keep up my exercise routine and get through the workday without extreme fatigue.
Intellectually we know we are pregnant, but the way our culture treats pregnancy lends itself to a lot of gaslighting.
Let me explain.
In the USA, the standard for a "normal human" is an able-bodied, white male in his 30's, with no caregiving responsibilities.
Anyone falling outside the level of productivity of this normative standard can quickly fall prey to feeling like a failure, and I see this happen especially to women during pregnancy.
Our culture treats pregnancy as a process that women should go through silently, while continuing to fulfill their daily duties as mothers and professionals. This is because the white male normative standard doesn't go through pregnancy in his lifetime.
As a result, we do not acknowledge the physical challenge pregnancy presents to women.
We don't offer pregnant women paid maternity leave, not to mention leave for countless medical appointments. We don't offer pregnant women reserved seats on public transport, seating in airports or airplanes, or even parking spaces closer to the entrance of buildings!
Given this pervasive view in our society, it's easy to beat up on yourself when you find yourself frequently feeling exhausted, hungry, sick, and ashamed for not being able to get everything done during pregnancy.
I have a different perspective on pregnancy to offer you.
I want you to think of pregnancy as THE ultimate physical challenge a human can undergo.
A pregnant woman is living everyday near the edge of her metabolic capacity
According to a study published in 2019, pregnant women expend a similar amount of energy as a runner in the extreme endurance event, Race Across the USA.
Race Across the USA is a 140 day transcontinental race where runners run 46 km, 6 days a week for 14-20 weeks.
A pregnant woman is using almost the same amount of energy to exist as an endurance runner running 28 miles a day.
The difference is, pregnancy lasts 280 days, not 140, and there are no days off.
What issues might arise for someone running 28 miles a day for 280 days?
They might be very, very fatigued.
They likely are in need of regular electrolytes, hydration, and FOOD.
After a while, they are prone to developing aches and pains and may find general mobility difficult.
(which is where I come in!)
Women are absolutely incredible in their capacity to soldier on through pregnancy and do what needs to get done.
My argument is that they shouldn't have to.
As a society, we need to rally around them. Pregnant moms need meals cooked, chores done, plenty of opportunities for rest, and regular physical therapy.
It's time we organize our economy around the needs of moms. After all, they are literally producing the future of humanity.
So listen up mama, you are an absolute badass. YOU are pregnant, hungry, tired, and amazing. You are not failing at all.
Thank you for all your hard work, and don't forget, I'm here to help.