Let me start this post by saying that if you’re one of those women who just loves being pregnant, who has that magic glow and thinks pregnancy is lovely and wonderful, you should probably stop reading now. Not because I’m going to say something bad about you or anything like that. You just won’t relate. And–no offense–but I would really rather not talk to you right now. Sorry.
Ok, now that it’s just us pregnant women who hate being pregnant, along with the non-pregnant people who hate smug pregnant women, I’ll tell you what I really think. Pregnancy is awful. Labor is a breeze by comparison. I wouldn’t mind giving birth on a regular basis–say, once a month. (I would actually prefer it to my period, most months.) But I’m pretty sure this will be my last pregnancy. I don’t think I can handle it again. Why? Because being pregnant stinks.
10 Reasons Why Being Pregnant is Worse than Labor:
1. Length of time. My labor with my daughter was 36 hours long and completely natural–no drugs of any kind. But that was nothing. Pregnancy was 42 weeks long. And it was also completely natural. I didn’t even take Tylenol. Seriously, no matter how difficult something is, would you rather put up with it for a few hours–a couple of days at most–or for ten months? Don’t let anyone tell you that pregnancy is nine months. Forty weeks is ten months. Technically you’re not pregnant till week three, but that’s still 9.5 months, which means you can round up. And the average first-time pregnancy is actually 41 weeks. Do the math.
2. Hormones. Yes, there are lots of hormones during labor, but again, labor is short term. And people don’t expect you to act normal during labor. When you’re pregnant you’re supposed to act like a human being. Which brings me to my next point:
3. Expectations. You can get away with anything in labor. Not so much when you’re pregnant. Nobody holds you accountable for things you say or do while you’re in labor. You can tell your husband you hate him, you can yell at your midwife, you can scream obscenities, and no one will think less of you. (No, I didn’t do any of those things in labor. Or in pregnancy. At least not yet.) But this kind of behavior isn’t allowed in pregnancy, despite all the uncomfortable things that give you just about equal motivation to act that way.
4. Clumsiness and injury. Yes, of course you can get injured during labor, but the thing is, most of the time you’re too busy to notice much. More importantly, there are a bunch of people there taking care of you when you’re in labor. Doing their best to prevent injury, and taking care of it immediately if you do get hurt. This is not the case when you’re pregnant. But these awful hormones again (I hate relaxin!) make you clumsy. Relaxin causes your joints to become more flexible. Theoretically this is supposed to make it easier for your pelvis to expand during labor, but really what it does it make you incredibly prone to twisting your ankle, tripping, bumping into things, and just generally looking like an idiot. I tripped up the stairs last week (no joke). But there’s nobody hanging by to take care of you when you injure yourself while pregnant. Of course people are sympathetic, but they also laugh at you for being so clumsy as to fall up the stairs. Nobody would make fun of you for that while you were in labor. At least not until labor was over. They wouldn’t dare. Plus you could just blame it on a contraction.
5. The bathroom. I’ll skip the gory details. Suffice it to say that being pregnant really changes your relationship with the toilet. And not in a good way. When you’re in labor, you’re allowed to spend hours in the bathroom if you want to. No one will even comment. In pregnancy, people are not so understanding. My husband has been complaining that I spend 25% or more of my day in the bathroom. Yes. I do. Trust me, it’s not by choice. You wanna make something of it?
6. Fat. Yeah, I know you’re not “really” fat. It feels like you’re fat. And for a good percentage of pregnancy, you don’t even look pregnant. You just look fat. Some people get those cute little round bellies, but I don’t–I get fat everywhere. I look awful when I’m pregnant. Also, right now my baby weighs a couple of ounces. I’ve gained 25 pounds. Just try to tell me that’s “baby weight.” It’s not, okay? It’s fat.
Of course you’re still fat when you’re in labor, but you’re guaranteed to lose at least 7 to 10 pounds, usually more, if you’re full-term. In one day! For a woman who’s wanted to lose weight for most of her adult life (by which I mean the vast majority of women of childbearing age), that kind of one-day weight loss makes up for a lot.
7. Childbirth classes and pain relief methods. Without saying anything about all the different types out there, I just want to point out the fact that they exist. Has anybody ever taken a pregnancy class? Ever even heard of one? Because I would really like one. I could use some expert advice on, say, how to drink from a cup without dumping the contents all over my shirt. (Don’t even try to tell me that’s not caused by pregnancy. I have no idea how or why, but it definitely is.) Or about how to walk without tipping over. At least in labor, there are options. I’ve never heard of a self-hypnosis method for dealing with bathroom problems during pregnancy–and believe me, I could really use one. Plus, you’re not even supposed to take medicine for many of the symptoms. Have you ever taken a look at the list of medications that aren’t safe during pregnancy? It’s long. Speaking of which…
8. Safe or recommended activities. If you read labels and listen to experts, you’d think you’re not allowed to do anything when you’re pregnant. There’s hardly a drug or supplement out there that doesn’t say “Do not take while pregnant without consulting your doctor,” with the possible exception of prenatal vitamins. You’re not supposed to ride bikes, jog much, get stressed, sit in a hot tub, lift anything, or drink. True, some hospitals don’t want you to do anything in labor either. But again, labor is a lot shorter. And for a lot of it you don’t care. It doesn’t feel like you’re depriving yourself of stuff you normally do, because you’re not doing anything you normally do. You’re much too busy giving birth to think about the things you would normally do.
And, of course, in my home birth, my midwife encouraged me to eat (I didn’t want to), drink wine (she wanted me to relax), and sit in the birthing tub (which is like a hot tub, only deeper). I spent most of my labor sitting in the birth tub and reading Harry Potter. I can only dream of getting to do that for hours at a time while I’m pregnant. Now that I think about it, I kinda hope I have another long labor. I would love to find the time to re-read Deathly Hallows.
9. Your involvement. Labor is really hard work–I would never deny that. It’s not easy. But at least you get to do something. It keeps you busy. In pregnancy, there’s nothing you can do but avoid all the stuff you’re not supposed to do. And hope everything is going okay. And worry. A friend of mine once told me that worry is the work of pregnancy, and every day I realize more how true this is. I would much rather climb a mountain (even if it feels more like scaling Mt. Everest on your hands and knees without any equipment) than worry. The mountain is at least an adventure, and you’ve got a story to tell at the end of it.
10. And the most important reason why pregnancy is worse than labor: the end result. The end result of labor is your baby. The end result of pregnancy? Labor. Oh, joy.