I’m a woman in a family full of women.
My two sisters both have children. I know many women with children both online and offline. Yet, no one talks about how painful, difficult, and even dangerous childbirth is. All I see are beautiful bumps, cute baby faces, and comments about whether there will be a second child.
For a long time, I thought that, when the time comes, you just pop out a baby, and that’s it. It’s natural; it’s what every woman does; it makes a man more committed to the mother of his child. Wow, isn’t it crazy that somehow I was instilled with the idea that a woman’s childbirth is about the man, not herself?
In hindsight, I was brainwashed by a sexist society that teaches women to see many parts of themselves as inconveniences and hide away anything that isn’t pretty and neat. I was socialised to laugh at jokes about “not trusting something that bleeds five days a month” (sincerely, fuck you, whoever says this.)
The first time I really paid attention to what happened during childbirth was… when I watched a Netflix comedy by Dr. Jason Leong who explained why childbirth is undoubtedly more painful than being kicked in the nuts.
I will probably sound ignorant, but I didn’t know that sometimes a doctor has to cut the area between a woman’s vagina and the anus to make the opening wider for the baby to come out. It sounds unimaginable to a woman who has never given birth like me.
Most of all, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been exposed to this information earlier and it took a damn Netflix comedy to inform me of some of the horrendous things my body would go through if and when I have a child. How could I never pay attention before?
After that, I started looking up Youtube videos about pregnancy and childbirth and thankfully found many people who didn’t shy away from telling the truths.
You would say the information has always been available, I just didn’t look hard enough. But I’m telling you I shouldn’t have to look hard for it. It shouldn’t be a niche. Women shouldn’t be a niche.
Men and women are having sex every day. Many are having unprotected sex and may get pregnant.
Some women might even entertain having a child — not because they are ready for it and have thought hard about it — but because they naively think it would make the man stick around with them or treat them better.
How many young girls think that a man ejaculates inside her means he might want something serious with her? How many of them romanticize the idea of having a child with a man whom they’re attached to but is in no shape or form apt to be a father?
These women have no idea how their lives would change once they got pregnant and went through childbirth, how vulnerable they would be, how much resources and emotional support they would need that might not be available to them.
Even if a man loves a woman and does most of the work around the house, he couldn’t take the pain away for her; he couldn’t do the breastfeeding for her; he couldn’t heal from labour for her — she has to do all of these by herself, and so much more.
Then let’s think — what would it be like for a woman who’s pregnant with a man who doesn’t care about her and isn’t committed to her?
Women need to know what they’re getting themselves into. And so do men. They need to understand their role and responsibility in their relationship with a woman. There’s no such thing as “casual sex.”
Women should talk more openly about childbirth — it would make even more sense why the choice to be childfree and have an abortion needs to be respected and stop being questioned — especially by men. (It’s unfathomable that not every woman has the right to her body.)
Women should talk more openly about childbirth, so every time a woman goes on a date or chooses to have sex with a man, she remembers why it is crucial to have boundaries, date with intent, and vet a man vigorously. She has every right to expect better treatment from men.
I haven’t given birth, but if and when I do, I will document it. For now, I will try to share more about my experiences and perspectives of being a woman — if anyone finds them uncomfortable or inconvenient, that’s their problem, and shame on them.
Next time when I use something that isn’t quite right for my petite body or any part of my female body, I won’t try to “get used to it” — I will speak up and demand what’s right for me and women like me.