10 Things Instagram Taught Me About Pregnancy

by Lani Irving

If there’s one thing the mainstream loves as much as celebrities, it’s pregnant celebrities in the media. Whether they like it or not, paparazzi are aiming their zoom lenses towards their steadily swelling baby bumps and selling these images to magazines or websites for us all to gasp over. Even if you’re trying to hide your face from the camera, if you’re a pregnant Mila Kunis, they will photograph you anyway. But why are we so fascinated with pregnant celebrities?

Firstly, pregnancy itself is fascinating to begin with. Without even exaggerating, I can suggest that it’s pretty much the main reason we exist. Sure, we’ve found a lot of other ways to fill the time, but the continuation of the species is one of the basic functions animals seek to fulfill in their lifetimes. It’s no wonder we’re so intrigued by it!

Lots of interesting (and, I gather, unpleasant) stuff happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy, and I can see why some people are so curious about seeing the impact of pregnancy on the body — especially when that body is the body of a seemingly perfect celebrity. Will they be afflicted with swollen ankles and other such un-glamorous aspects of pregnancy? It’s a way for women who are or who have been pregnant to seek out a more human and relatable side to these unreachable visions of beautiful women and, for those of us yet to experience pregnancy, it’s a way of being nosey — feeding our curiosity about the pregnant body (especially if we don’t actually have any pregnant women in our own lives).

However, there’s a lot that popular media won’t tell you about pregnancy. I am not claiming to be any kind of pregnancy expert here, but I think there’s a lot more to it than a "cute little bump" and a radiant "glow." An article by Amy Morrison of Scary Mommy lists 20 Things They Don’t Tell You About Your Pregnant Body. 20. I can only try to imagine how many changes must be going on for there to be a whole other 20 you might not have even known about.

This is where social media comes in handy. Although most of us in the digital age have probably Googled symptoms of a minor illness, only to find out we are sadly dying (read: absolutely fine), I do believe that the Internet and social media can be helpful when it comes to the sharing of experiences, and pregnancy is no exception to this.

In the age of the selfie, the idea of the media is redefined. As Amanda Palmer (whose pregnancy announcement photo is pictured above) so astutely proclaims, "We Are The Media," which means we have more images — and more varied images — than ever to process and collate into our collective schema of what it means to be a pregnant woman. With that in mind, I took to Instagram to gather a collection of images celebrating the pregnant body, and here's what I learned.

1. It's not all hemorrhoids and peeing yourself — pregnant ladies can have fun, too.

2. Pregnant women look awesome from above. Yet this aerial view is a pregnancy angle we seldom see — why?!

3. Pregnant women are sexy!

4. Pregnant women still rock. You don't stop being your own brand of cool just because you happen to be growing another person inside your uterus.

5. Pregnant women look stunning in bikinis.

6. Sometimes bumps are dainty and cute...

7. And sometimes bumps are not-so-dainty, but they're still cute.

8. Being pregnant doesn't mean you stop being stylish. You can still look awesome and elegant in maternity wear...

9. Not to mention out of it!

10. Popped out belly buttons aren't as weird, or even as noticeable, as you might expect.

So there you have it, a lesson in pregnancy from social media. It's not scientific and you probably haven't really learned anything you didn't know already, but the images we share on social media are powerful — now we choose the images we promote; the images that make up our collective conscious. And this can have huge implications in terms of body positivity and self-esteem for all types of women. Image sharing sites like Instagram deepen the images of pregnancy we have access to far beyond cutesy stick-on bumps in sitcoms, worn by women who so often fit the same archetype of beauty. Keep on sharing.

Images: amandapalmer/Instagram; pregnancy73/Instagram; xoloveyou/Instagram; pregnancy10/Instagram; _raindurps/Instagram; taisha_amber/Instagram; kylie_ft_nixi/Instagram; healthyfatchick/Instagram; Giphy