Women are anatomically adapted to grow and nurture life for almost a year in their own bodies, this particular aspect makes them incredibly strong and resilient. And perhaps it is because of this amazing “gift” that for centuries women were supposed to have one single goal in life, reproduction. Society did not use to assign any additional value to women’s existence. Nonetheless, in the last century, women have felt more encouraged to decide maternity on their own terms. Which involves when is the right time to have children, and what is the best way to deal with motherhood. Many women are as well more interested in learning about the gestation process, and this decision, in my opinion, offers a sense of freedom and empowerment.
I decided to call this article, The Maternity Revolution, because despite of the fact that women are inherently designed for maternity, we are not properly “educated” to face all the physical, mental, and emotional changes that go way beyond pregnancy. In the past, pregnancy was simply “the way of living”. Consider this extract from the article: “Your brain on PMS is like your brain on alcohol and depressants”, “Three hundred years ago women started menstruating around 17 or 18 because they were less healthy than today. Most women got pregnant almost immediately and remained pregnant or breastfeeding for most of their reproductive lives, which ended around 40. The average woman might have had as few as 20 menstrual cycles in her life. […] By contrast, modern women are eating better, using birth control, and menstruating earlier (the average age is 14). Their reproductive lives are also getting longer (now ending around 51), and they’re having fewer children.”
For women who are just starting the motherhood journey, it is important to understand that the changes we face during this period of time go way beyond the physical transformation. Our brain changes significantly during pregnancy, which makes sense. After all in our path of evolution, under new circumstances we have to adapt in order to survive. In the New York Times article, “This is your Brain on Motherhood”, its author mentions the many changes women’s brain undergo. Changes such as “Gray matter in the brains of women who’d recently given birth seemed to be reduced in certain areas, and those changes stuck around for up to two years after birth. […] this process could help people focus on specific behaviors or activities — in this case, taking care of an infant.” Another significant change mentioned in this article, “[…] decrease in the production of new neurons during late pregnancy and the postpartum period in the part of the brain that governs memory.”
A remarkable study this article mentions has to do with mental health during pregnancy and postpartum stages, “Dr. Vigod is looking at ways to treat mood disorders during pregnancy without medication. Her hunch is that synaptic pruning and brain reorganization might be linked in some way to the depression and anxiety that women can experience during the postpartum period.” Scientists are paying more attention to the whole range of changes taking place during and after pregnancy. The goal is for women to improve their life quality during this time of their life.
Maternity today can be lived in a completely different way as it was “survived” by women of older generations. It all starts with self-empowerment in regards to the decision of becoming a mother. Subsequently, practicing self-care specially designed for mothers. Knowledge is key, and what can make the difference in the pregnancy and postpartum process. Exercising, sleeping enough, taking care of nutrition, contact with nature, and observing your mental health, are vital steps for a healthy pregnancy. All these things that were neglected in the past, just because women were supposed to be designed exclusively for maternity, are particularly important, and can help women ease the physical and emotional challenge that maternity entails.