Sunday, September 23, 2018

On pressure, perfection, and the sharing of stories

I've been reading lots of nonfiction, and after a run of memoirs about giving birth, my main reaction is: Holy cow, are women staggering under the burden of high expectations in that department.

Society has always loved to judge mothers--for being too strict or not strict enough, for working outside the home or inside it, for holding their babies too much or not enough. But I have found expectations building up around pregnancy and birth and breastfeeding, have read heartbreaking stories of women turning themselves inside out to try to have the perfect pregnancy, the perfect natural birth, the perfect breastfeeding experience. And then to try to recover their pre-pregnancy bodies as quickly as possible.

Giving birth is a huge, life-changing experience. As with any other experience so profound (in both the physical and emotional sense), I would say: It's okay to get through it however you can. To accept help, support, medication, technology. To acknowledge that impossible standards are bad for us. I'm glad women are talking and thinking and writing about these issues.One of the biggest reasons I read memoir is for that sense of connection with people, that commentary on the world we all share.

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