Pregnancy is beautiful – or so they say.
Well, I beg to differ. Interesting or even fascinating? Yes, definitely. But also inconvenient, weird and just plain impractical.
I have to disclose that, even as a young girl, I’ve always found that pregnant women look very strange, and often rather uncomfortable (I even felt a bit sorry for them). This hasn’t changed over the years, and neither did my feelings about pregnancy in general – not when I was pregnant with my first child almost ten years ago, or now with my current pregnancy…
Think about it: there is a small human being inside another human being!!! Moving around, kicking from the inside, squeezing their feet under your ribcage (causing that weird tingly sensation, which was new for me), pushing on the same spot over and over until you feel bruised inside and all the midwife can do is tell you it’s normal and to put a cold pack on it (also new for me), hiccupping, growing bigger and bigger… in fact, so big that at the end it’s quite a struggle to push him/her out through a passage that is barely adequate for this! In fact it’s such a tight fit that all kinds of additional adaptations had to happen, such as the skull bones of the baby not being fused until after the birth – to make the head more squishable – and the joints of the mother loosening up so the pelvis can open wider.
Speaking of which: the entire female body undergoes such profound changes that medical doctors treated (and often still treat) pregnancy as a medical condition, rather than a natural process. Which is of course silly, because – as strange as it is – it’s not a disease. (By the way, this is a comparatively recent phenomenon, see e.g. this brief overview).
But let’s just list a few of these changes here for fun – physiological:
- blood plasma volume increases by 50% while the number of red blood cells only increases by 20-30%, completely changing the haematology
- heart rate and cardiac output increase
- the blood sugar level increases
- breathing increases
- the immune system is slightly suppressed
- …and don’t even mention the hormones..
..and anatomical changes (besides the joints mentioned above):
- the uterus increases its weight about 20 and its initial capacity about 1,000 times (not to mention all that muscle it packs on and starts exercising not too far into the pregnancy, getting ready for that olympic-class event of giving birth)
- the placenta and umbilical cord grow
- the breasts significantly increase in size (…and then even more, after the baby is born, for nursing)
- and that absolutely massive belly people insist on affectionately calling “the bump” in a ridiculous understatement, which is due to the uterus growing into the abdomen, causing the abdominal wall to expand to accommodate it.
Anyway. The reason I am writing this post? I have a proposal to make.
Can we please lay eggs instead?
Think about it. First of all, such an egg is smooth and round and would – frankly – come out a bit easier, with far less potential for drama including breech birth and other complications. But, more importantly: once the egg is out, it doesn’t have to be just the mother who looks after it. Look at Emperor penguins, for example! The fathers sit patiently on the eggs, keeping them warm, while the ladies take off to the seashore to replenish their used-up energy stores after producing that egg. Then they come back and take over again so the lads can have a break. How beautiful would that be? Truly equal sharing of responsibilities, right from the start!
And of course, humans being the ingenious species we are, looking after the egg doesn’t have to mean staying at home/stationary and sitting on it. I can imagine entire ranges of padded designer egg-carrier bags that can be set at just the right temperature and that even the most fashion conscious mum or dad wouldn’t be embarrassed to take to work with them, or any social event for that matter. It might even be admired and be quite the conversation starter. And it doesn’t have to stop there! With eggs in a carrier bag the entire family can share in the experience: grandmother and grandfather, older siblings… even friends could have a go!
P.S. Where did this post come from? Due to my employer’s special status, although based in the UK, my maternity leave had to start this week, four weeks before the due date, with no choice involved. Oh, the time to overthink this…… I guess I really should do some more relaxing now…