A Pregnant Woman

A Pregnant Woman

It is rightly said, "All pregnant women are valiant warriors". Well, needless to say, nurturing a life within oneself for nine long months, coping with the daily mood swings, emotional stress, morning sickness, sore breasts, plenary cravings, abnormal weight gain and routinely ensuring both mother and baby are healthy and active, is not everyone\"s cup of tea. Apart from the above, striking a balance between personal and professional lives during that period requires a lot of self determination, will power, patience and endurance. Hats off to all mothers/expecting mothers out there!!! You\"re an inspiration for many!

Women can decide when to get pregnant at any phase of their lives based on their own independent/joint couple\"s choice. But, how are those women, who get pregnant at different stages of their lives, treated by our society? What are the various trials and tribulations they have to encounter during the maternity phase? How happy the expectant mothers really are from within? How the societal pressure affects their choices and decisions when it comes to pregnancy? Well, this article focuses on answering all of these questions.

Based on the individual\"s choice of getting pregnant, we can broadly categorise pregnant women in below 4 categories:

1. Early pregnancy post marriage : Around 60% of the women fall under this category. We have some really strict norms in the patriarchal society we live in where women are expected to get married by the age of 25 and have kids by the age of 27. Family life is given preference over professional life, hence, most of the expectant mothers falling under this category are either home makers or are asked to leave their jobs, take utmost care of themselves and prepare for a "blissful" motherhood life ahead filled with compromises and sacrifices. They are the most revered and loved women in our society as they believe in following those age-old societal norms and are not used to defiance. They have never understood the definition of patriarchy from childhood and prefer to remain docile and serve their husbands, in laws and kids selflessly for the rest of their lives. But the emotional trauma these women go through is appalling. Firstly, the societal pressure of being a "YES" woman who should be taking care of the household chores, in laws\" whims and husband\"s tantrums alongwith the pregnancy stress makes her feel helpless and since she has been taught to endure and suppress these feelings since childhood, she never seeks help or support but fakes a smile instead! Secondly, the expectation of having a male child and those frequent sarcasms that a woman has to face regarding the baby\"s gender till the baby is born, is really exhausting. The critical phase where an expectant mother is supposed to remain cheerful, confident and emotionally active is ruined by these societal eccentricities. This hampers the woman\"s well being and has negative impact on both mother and baby\"s health, sometimes resulting in early miscarriage.

2. Late pregnancy post marriage : Most working women belong to this category. There are many reasons why a woman prefers late pregnancy i.e. after 5-10 years of marriage which includes and not limited to :
a. Not being able to conceive in initial years due to medical reasons.
b. Highly ambitious and career oriented women who prefer to fulfill their professional dreams first before embracing motherhood.
c. Inherent desire of couples to spend ample intimate time with one another for a longer period before embracing parenthood.
d. Not mentally prepared enough to handle or raise a child.
e. Financial stress in initial years, addition of a new member might increase the stress, hence the delay.
These women are mostly derided by the society as they defy and question those patriarchal norms. They believe in fulfilling their needs and dreams first before enjoying motherhood. They are questioned on their fertility. Once pregnant, they have to undergo those typical sarcasms like "Bearing a child in late 30s might lead to complications and miscarriage", "The baby born would either be premature, still born or would have some birth defects", etc. However, these women turn a deaf ear to all these futile remarks. With the support of their loving husband and their ever busy professional life, they keep themselves happily engaged and active. They attend those family counselling sessions frequently to ease their stress and worries. So, this kind of conducive environment is highly beneficial for both the mother and the baby.

3. Pregnancy out of wedlock : This constitutes a majority of the percentage of women. Most women can get pregnant before marriage due to multiple reasons some of which are cited below:
a. Engaging in an active sexual life without the use of contraceptives.
b. Victims of rapes or sexual abuse.
c. Physical relationships on false pretext of marriage.
d. Accepting surrogacy.
e. Desire of not getting married and being a single mother via artificial insemination.
These women are always derided in our society. In our country where a woman is judged by her virginity before marriage, women falling under this category are believed to have tarnished the family\"s reputation. Being constantly surrounded by those societal sneers, ridicules, contempt, animosity and hatred, these women become the victims of depression easily. They live in a constant state of fear. Very few women are brave enough to turn a deaf ear to all those criticisms, fight against these typical stereotypes, bend the rules, bring the child to this world and fulfill the responsibility of a single mother. Some of them even decide to get married to their partners immediately post pregnancy so as to save themselves from being labelled as "Sinners" since as per societal norms only marriage gives you the official certificate and permission for copulation and procreation! But, majority of them either resort to abortion, suicide or even fall prey to honor killing. In some cases, they are even married to their rapists. To be precise, the stress and mental trauma a pregnant woman has to endure in this situation is highly unimaginable and unthinkable. Unless the typical mindset of our society is reformed by proper education and counseling, its very difficult to ensure healthy lives of both the mother and the baby in this scenario.

4. Fake pregnancy : Well, these constitute around 5-10% of women who resort to fake pregnancy due to societal sneers for not being able to conceive because of multiple reasons like impotency, infertility or not having an active sexual life with their partners. These women are always hypervigilant as they are scared of getting caught. They are eternally surrounded by a sense of guilt for faking a pregnancy. They either opt for surrogacy or adoption later but present the baby as their own in front of their in laws and family.

Having said that, the mental health and well being of a pregnant woman as well as the baby blooming in her womb depends on us. The ball rests in our court now. Let\" s make this world a safe and happy place for both of them to thrive and survive!

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