Femininity and Pregnancy
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life, no doubt about it. This is not only because it is a life-changing event, but because pregnancy allows a woman to embody a special kind of feminine energy. No, I don’t just mean that pregnant ladies’ hair and nails are all nice and they get glowy skin; I mean that pregnancy is the ultimate harnessing of feminine energy in a way that is a lot more symbolic than superficial.
Pregnancy is ultimately a state of BEING rather than a state of ACTION. “Being”, passiveness, allowing, flow, or trust are all ways to express this idea, and this little element of magic is the primary ingredient of feminine energy. This energy manifests itself in the physical in a very evident way, and can be observed as part of that wonderful glow pregnant women get about them. Feminine energy is a state of life. What better a time to focus on this particular energy than pregnancy, when you have a literal life growing within you?
How Our Masculine-entric Society Influences Pregnancy
When I first discovered I was pregnant (early January 2021) I immediately had to check my expectations about what pregnancy was and what I had to do about it. There are so many blog posts, magazine articles, and relatives telling you what you need to do when you are pregnant. Even the at-home pregnancy tests urge you to IMMEDIATELY call your OB-GYN or midwife….when, in all reality, most healthcare professionals don’t even want to see you for the first 6–12 weeks of pregnancy. Why? There’s really not much they can do other than say “yep…..you are pregnant” before a certain point if you are a low-risk individual. Add into the mix that false positives from at-home pregnancy tests are rare…so if you are getting that delightful little + you most certainly are, my dear.
I think the focus on action, even in pregnancy (almost especially in pregnancy) highlights the masculine-centric worldview we have in the west. Not male-centric: masculine-centric: they are entirely different things.
Masculine energy is all about doing; it is assertive, focused, structured, productive and manifestation-based whereas feminine energy is responsive, vulnerable, patient, introspective and intuition-based. These qualities usually do align with their respective sexes, however all individuals possess qualities of both masculine and feminine energy. The easiest way to think about this is the symbol of the yin-yang: each side possess a sliver of the other part within themselves, therefore making the picture balanced and whole.
Think about the western world and the cultural climate we have for a moment. From where I’m sitting I see a prevalence of corporatism (which of course is masculine). We also in general love our productivity, efficiency, competitions, adventures, courageous action, and structure. While we do enjoy and celebrate the fruits of creativity, loyalty, sensuality and compassion, these feminine characteristics tend to get waylaid in favor of our more masculine-based philosophy as a collective.
I am not condemning masculinity, but rather I see the symptoms of an overly masculine and action-based society appear in the most feminine of times: pregnancy.
I think this action-based focus of our society affects pregnancy and manifests itself as an over-medicalization of pregnancy and birth. Pregnant women are treated like we are fragile and in need constant observation when in reality pregnancy is perfectly natural and healthy and most women are able to carry and deliver healthy babies without need of a whole lot of medical intervention. Even The World Health Organization cites that “Childbirth is a normal physiological process that can be accomplished without complications for the majority of women and babies.”
Healthcare is absolutely essential, especially for pregnant women, but the attitude around what needs to be done in traditional medical environments tends to be less about the patient and her baby and more about meeting standards and dealing with laboring mothers in an efficient and precise way. There is a higher percentage of medical intervention in the form of epidurals, oxytocin infusions, and cesarians as the standard birth is now held in the hospital. Perineal tearing is almost expected as the typical birthing position is on on the back. It’s no wonder that up to 45% of new mothers have reported experiencing a traumatic birth. There is also an increased amount of genetic testing that is now a pretty standard part of prenatal care that most women can do without.
Femininity is a large reason why I have elected to have my prenatal care done by a team of midwives at a birth center and not a hospital. Being an all women midwifery team, I find there is a more feminine philosophy of care, focusing more on my needs and questions I may have rather than just ticking boxes and moving on. Every woman has the right to choose what is right for her and her family, and I am lucky that I have this option open to me where I live.
This action and efficiency obsessed worldview caused me to take a step back-more like 10 steps back- and realize that pregnancy is a state of being rather than a state of action. Because of this (plus morning sickness and fatigue in my first trimester) I had to reevaluate my situation and remember the tenants of femininity: intuition, receptiveness, vulnerability, creation, endurance, patience, and nurturing. I had to take this feminine energy and direct it towards myself.
The first trimester of pregnancy literally forced me to rest, take care of my body (although all I wanted to do was throw up and eat goldfish) and made me re-realize that femininity is much much more than looking and being nice. I rediscovered that embracing my feminine energy meant listening to the cues that presented themselves and TRUSTING that my intuition was correct. It means taking care of yourself, both inside and out, and for me that included finding adequate rest physically and mentally.
Pregnancy can cause a lot of worry-and I can tell you that throughout this year I have done a lot of googling, asking questions, and finding solutions to problems I never thought I would encounter (like that time I googled “can you die from morning sickness?”). One thing I can tell you is that giving yourself a break from the worry is one of the most valuable things you can do for yourself at any time, pregnancy or no.
There is a fine line between endlessly worrying and trusting your intuition. Giving yourself grace and trusting your body’s messages is exactly what embracing the feminine state of pregnancy looks like. If this means talking to your doctor or looking something up, do it. If it looks like sitting down and drinking a glass of water in the middle of a task, DO IT.
Sometimes you just have to take things slower and learn that you just have to take a nap, or a break. This doesn’t mean being lazy, but being in tune with your needs, which will ultimately help you in the long run, especially when you are taking care of a new baby and learning how to care for their needs as well as your own (and some of your husband or partner’s, too 🤷♀️). Healthy femininity relies on a balancing act between nurturing passiveness (feminine energy) and action-based problem solving (masculine energy). Without both, we would be completely lost!
Yes, there is a lot to do, to prepare to bring a child into this world but I’m of the firm belief that God gave us 9 months to prepare for a reason. Every day is its own sort of challenge, and it is enough time for us to not only gestate a full human (WOW) but also take the steps to prepare and be an informed parent. Ultimately all we can do in the end is trust God, our healthcare professionals, and ourselves because nobody really can anticipate exactly what is going to happen once that child is here.
While I write this I am a little over halfway through my pregnancy and I am confident that I will have everything I need as long as I continue to trust that everything will be okay and tune into my needs. That kind of faith and confidence comes from a place that I know God has given me, and will continue to provide me as long as I tune in to not only what my body is telling me, but into my mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well.
Originally published at http://imperfectionfreak.wordpress.com on May 15, 2021.