intensely trivial

In celebration of the pregnant body

A pregnant friend just posted some photos of her pregnant belly and her family. It was her way of celebrating her expectant body in the face of the messages she’s constantly hearing to the contrary. She is not alone in fighting this inner battle during pregnancy. While there are some women who feel positive about their bodies all throughout pregnancy, there are still way too many who struggle either until they give birth or until much later — whenever they reach their post-pregnancy fitness goal or just give up.
When I was pregnant, it was a severe struggle for me, too. I’ve always had body-image issues, and pregnancy took away any semblance of control I had over my own body. I resented that, grew depressed over it. I felt uncomfortably exposed in clothing that showed the actual shape of my pregnant belly or my fuller breasts, and I wanted to hide the fact that everything was fatter than “normal.” I confess that just to say I know what it’s like not to like your pregnant body, even while you relish the hope and expectations of carrying a life inside you.
In the meanwhile, though, I’ve come to see the physicality of pregnancy and birth in a whole new light. As a doula, I see a lot of pregnant bodies. I see a lot of the pregnant bodies, too. And I have come to view women’s pregnant bodies as just plain gorgeous. It would be hard for me to believe otherwise, now that I’ve had the privilege of watching many women meet the challenge of giving birth.
When I attend a birth, I don’t stand there and ogle the woman, but I am often floored by the astounding beauty of her working through the birth process.
Pregnant women are full and big.
They are powerful.
Their breasts are more than a handful,
round and ready to sustain life,
their nipples more than a mouthful,
earthy-dark and confident;
their openings soft and supple;
the lines of their bodies sensual,
and when they feel at home in their laboring skin,
they move in a dance
as beautiful as anything you might see on stage.

I’ve seen women
with long, slender legs
with thicker, muscular legs
feet and ankles swollen,
and feet and ankles where you could see every elegant tendon.

I’ve seen women
with lush tattoos on their backs,
leading down over their buttocks,
on their chests,
women with piercings
women with jewelry
and women totally nude,
natural and unaltered.

I’ve seen them with extra padding around their hips,
and some with hips as slender as a girl’s,
breasts firm and small,
and breasts soft and big as pillows,
arms willowy, and arms big and round.

Lots of painted toenails,
and some bare — like mine.
Hair twisted in knots,
tied in ponytails,
under a hat,
out of the face,
and some loose and flowing.

I’ve seen women labor with nothing on,
and some who hardly want to reveal an ankle
women in fluffy bathrobes, comfort objects,
and women in sexy chemises
and some who choose the hospital uniform.

You see, it’s pretty much all normal. We’re all different. Most of us don’t even have two breasts the same size, and our nipples point odd directions (in our opinion). Most of us have extra padding somewhere on our bodies, and not where we’d like it. We just think our bodies are odd or defective, because we don’t see the wide spectrum. The thing is, our bodies work. Pregnant women are all sustaining the life of a being within them.
And I get the extreme privilege of witnessing as they prove their strength in giving birth. I wish all women could witness that. It would do wonders for our body images, I think.
Our bodies have been created strong and able. I pray God helps us begin to marvel at our unique beauty.


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  1. * Sandie says:

    Oh, how beautifully expressed! Thank you, R.

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago
  2. * Shelley Camba says:

    You are a writer (among all the other talents). Thank you.

    Posted 8 years, 3 months ago

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