With celebrities and friends posting happy pregnancy and motherhood pictures all over social media, do mothers feel pressure to feel and behave a certain way?
I recently read an article on ‘Parentdish’ talking about the rising popularity among celebrity Mums of posting happy “bump selfies” on twitter along with comments such as how much they love school holidays and the break away from their work.
I felt compelled to write a blog on the matter.
It’s great that they are happy, revelling in being pregnant and they deserve to enjoy that time.
But not every woman does and I feel it is important to make that a well-known fact. Because while it may make the day of many fans, it can wreck the day of other women, who feel they should feel the same but don’t.
The trouble with social media sites is we only get to hear about people’s best bits, the positive emotions and celebrations. We don’t see the swollen ankles, tiredness and depression.
Yes, that’s right, depression. And downright misery too.
It is difficult to comprehend why any expecting mother could feel depressed if her baby is healthy. If not, then of course those low feelings and anxieties are understood.
Society views giving birth as a natural and beautiful rite of passage to womanhood.
Yet impending motherhood is a terrifying time for lots of women.
It’s not always possible to categorise, but factors such as the break-up of relationships, past trauma, fear of the unknown, financial worries and accommodation issues can make pregnancy a really stressful time.
Although they may be scared to say it, many expectant mothers may be grieving their previous life too. The ability to be selfish and do what we want, when we want? That feeling will be long gone for a while, especially for women with limited support networks.
It is common to feel we have lost ourselves once pregnant. People become inquisitive about baby things: when’s it due? What we are having? What is the nursery like? Heck I never had a nursery and I had three!
They stop asking about us, as people, which can be hard to cope with.
Women have identities before they have children. They deserve an identity after them as well, and shouldn’t have to feel like the perfect parent all of the time.
Being a mother is one role of many, although for many women it is quite rightly the most important, giving them purpose and pleasure. Even when they don’t feel this way, I believe most mothers have the potential to grow towards that.
But if they can’t, and if they don’t feel like the celebrities on social media and in magazines, then that’s alright too.
It’s acceptable to be an ‘ok’ parent, so long as you try your best.
Mostly I think a lot of mothers ‘muddle along’ and learn as they go, finding a way that works for their family.
It is fine to make mistakes, and it is fine not to be glowing just because you’re having a baby. Producing babies is not the only purpose for women and nobody is perfect all of the time, despite what social media might suggest.
Caroline Estrella is a newly qualified nurse, about to start a role on a surgical ward and an MA in Research Methods for Health