"Feminism has always been central to my identity and worldview, so I knew it would play a profound role in my pregnancy and birth. In a country where so many women don't have access to good reproductive healthcare – or any care at all – and aren't given the choice to birth in the way they choose, I'm deeply aware of my privilege.
I've never felt more empowered and confident than I do now, but being pregnant has also challenged my brand of feminism and my ideals of radical gender equality. I reject the essentialist view of motherhood that assumes women innately want to and should be mothers – as if women are genetically destined to birth and nurture children. This thinking isn't fair to women who don't want children, women who can't have children, or men who want to be equals as caregivers.
That doesn't mean I haven't loved the experience of growing life in my belly or that I'm not incredibly grateful for this miraculous gift. But I feel torn. On the one hand I feel deeply connected to generations of women who've birthed before me. On the other, I know that our physiology is cynically used against us as a societal yolk. From insufficient maternity leave and unpaid reproductive labour to medical institutions and health schemes coercing women and restricting their birth decisions.
Instead of rewarding women for reproducing society and carrying the collective burden, our bodies are used against us. While I marvel at the shifts my body is undergoing, I can't help but wish men also had the ability to birth. Perhaps then society would fully acknowledge both the awe-inspiring blessing and the massive sacrifice inherent in carrying, birthing, and caring for a child".
Karla, September '18.