Mom Gets De-Programmed From The Cult Of Pregnancy

A British writer discovers that being pregnant in the United States - particularly New York - sucks.

Alexandra Starr moves to New York and declares,

In a city obsessed with self-improvement and status, becoming big with child is not a mellow experience. New Yorkers may appear to be concerned about your baby, but in fact it's all about you, not your child. How you eat during pregnancy is seen as a reflection of your character and social standing....Pregnancy in Manhattan combines crunchy-granola wholesomeness - go organic, absolutely no drinking (to say nothing of lighting up a cigarette), cut out the caffeine - with an urban prejudice against growing anything bigger than the ‘Perfect Bump' (as the title of a New York magazine article describing the city's epidemic of skinny pregnancies put it).

She bridles at the injunctions against everything from camomile tea to deli meats, at message boards' obsessions with staying slim and jogging through pregnancies, at her doctor's desire that she not gain more than 25 pounds and her injunction, "I would ask you whether the baby needs that slice of cake. For that matter, I would ask if you do." Ultimately, Starr decides to stick to the more laid-back NHS pregnancy guidelines, which allow for a little wine wiggle room and the occasional slice of meat. She's much happier.

While everything she says is well-taken, and the cult of pregnancy is obviously way out of control, I maintain that no mother can write about pregnancy objectively. It all seems to be a continuing search to justify one's own choices, or dismiss others as silly, because no one can live with the thought that she's not doing the best for her baby. In some ways, aren't all these discussions "about you?" As a few million men once said, women have been having babies for thousands of years, and while this sort of smug pronouncement seems to hinge on the notion that moms can pop them out like someone in a Pearl Buck novel, it's pretty clear that to a degree ignorance was bliss. Because it does seem like, in the U.S. at least, this isn't a conversation you can opt pout of - and ironically, Starr's article proves this as much as anything.

In New York, Pregnancy Is A Form Of Tyranny [SpectatorUK]