The Layer Cake of Pregnancy Guilt

By Kelley Boymer
29 Aug 2023

The last time I posted about pregnancy, I was sharing my struggle to get pregnant a second time. Ironically enough, I literally took a pregnancy test the following day and it was positive. Sometimes the timing of life is truly mind blowing. It’s wild how something that feels all-consuming in the moment can feel like such a distant memory now.

I’m now 6 months pregnant, with a baby girl due early December. She will be a firey little Sagittarius (like Jess 😉 ). Time is flying by this pregnancy especially. I am beginning to realize what a luxury it was to be pregnant without a toddler. And don’t get me wrong, that was by no means easy either. No time for rest or even remembering that I’m pregnant to begin with. What a whirlwind!

During a recent planning meeting Jess and I were talking about all of the intricacies of pregnancy. I was sharing with her all of the different aspects of pregnancy that bring on so much guilt for women. We feel this expectation to love all the stages of motherhood including pregnancy despite how miserable they can sometimes be. When we don’t feel the love, magic or joy of these stages we feel a sense of loneliness and shame in ourselves. After sharing some of my current pregnancy guilt, Jess referred to it as a layer cake, and we loved this metaphor.

If you’re in the midst of pregnancy like me and feeling the guilt from all angles, today’s post is for you. Here’s some thoughts on the layer cake of pregnancy guilt, and how to get through it.

The Layer Cake of Pregnancy Guilt

I truly just love the layer cake metaphor, because it is so accurate. The guilt runs so deep and there are so many layers to it. The expectations on women in society are high, let alone mothers. I remember in my first pregnancy, people being so taken aback when they would ask me how I was feeling and I would bluntly respond, “like shit”.

People are used to mother’s smiling and pushing through, whether they are actually feeling good or not. Not only does our culture expect us to enjoy pregnancy, but we put this on ourselves as well. We want to be that person that embraces pregnancy and finds it to be the most beautiful experience, but the reality is that for many women, pregnancy is not all sunshine and rainbows.

For many women, pregnancy was a surprise and although it takes two to create a baby, the responsibility of carrying the baby and birthing it is solely on the woman. Our government in many states is now forcing women to continue pregnancies against their will. This is such an awful way to have to create life and creates so many layers of guilt for the one sacrificing her body to do so.

Pregnancy can be incredibly unpleasant for many women. From nauseous to fatigue, headaches, constipation, dizziness, anxiety, and insomnia, the list goes on… Sharing your body with a small human is no easy feat. Pregnancy is also a time of uncertainty and this can cause a lot of anxiety and stress. Thirty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and it’s so hard not to have spiraling thoughts about the countless complications that could go wrong throughout pregnancy. Pregnancy also has so many limitations. You can’t eat certain foods, due to a weakened immune system. You can no longer participate in certain activities that may be straining or possibly harmful to the baby.

All of this to say, pregnancy is in fact a miracle. There is a high percentage of couples that try for years to get pregnant without success. Therefore, when you become pregnant you feel the weight of needing to enjoy this miracle that you have been blessed with. Despite the excitement to eventually meet your sweet little baby and bring this child into the world, sometimes it just feels downright unfair that women have to literally and figuratively carry all of the burdens of this on their own. For some, finding out they are pregnant can be terrifying and cause panic. Even if this is something you have been wanting and trying for, the reality of a baby completely turning your world upside down can completely throw you off kilter. These feelings can come as a surprise and cause a great amount of shame and guilt. Shouldn’t I feel happy? You may wonder. Just know all of these feelings are completely normal and valid. You have every right to feel whatever may come up.

If you’re not feeling that pregnancy glow, it’s okay. You are not alone and you don’t need to. You can feel completely miserable in your pregnancy and also be excited to meet your new baby. Both of these things can exist. You can also feel exhausted and not able to give 100%. Trying to work while pregnant can feel like a marathon. Do what you need to do to get by. If you just don’t have the energy to play with your toddler, that’s okay. Take a nap instead of doing laundry or pushing through that extra work. Carve out some time for yourself– get a massage, take a prenatal yoga class, spend time with friends. Eat the yummy foods that you’re craving and stop feeling guilty about it. Trust yourself, trust your body. You got this.

Resources and Tips for Surviving Pregnancy

Jess shared some of her tips for surviving pregnancy a few years ago that are really helpful, especially if you are suffering from hyperemesis.

Birthing From Within

This book, Birthing From Within has been recommended to me by so many women now. I just started it and am excited to dig in over the next few months. This interactive book leads mothers through exercises and activities to analyze thoughts and fears about becoming a mother.

Hypnobirthing Classes & Courses

A friend of mine shared the meditations from her Hypnobirthing class and they have been so helpful in both of my pregnancies. After a fairly traumatic birth the first time around, I have been struggling with some PTSD. These meditations, which are really like hypnosis in a way, have been so helpful in shifting my mindset and calming me when I begin to spiral with pregnancy insomnia at 2am… 😵‍💫

Preggie Pop Drops

Another friend recommended these Preggie Pop Drops and they have been such a life savor. I was feeling nauseous up until a few weeks ago… I swear it’s the girl hormones! But I would always keep a few preggie pops on hand in my purse and they were so effective in relieving the nauseous whenever it would hit on the go.

Unisom

I am not a doctor and of course cannot advise the use of medication, BUT Unisom (an over the counter sleep aid) has been another life savor for me during this pregnancy. Some people combine it with B6 and it is one of the best ways to prevent nauseous. I took a pill each night and it helped me feel well enough to go about my day. Every time I forgot to take it I would wake up green. Be sure to consult with your doctor before taking!

Pact Prenatal Clothing

At 6 months pregnant, I am hating anything that clings to my body. Pact’s maternity clothing line is exactly what I’m wanting and needing right now. Their organic cotton feels so good on my body and the simplicity of each piece makes it versatile and great for everyday, practical wear.

Kara Duval Pilates & Yoga Glo

I started using Kara’s online pilates platform just before getting pregnant, and I’m so glad that I did! After experiencing over 10 years of chronic back pain, I can truly say it has been such an important part of my recovery and healing journey. Kara is unique in that she focuses on the breath, functional movement, stability, but also has this really beautiful and refreshing sense of humor and the biggest heart. Kara is actually a recent Woodstock resident and we are so happy to have her locally as well. I cannot recommend Kara enough. I am feeling strong and pain-free at this point in my pregnancy 🤞 which is very different from my last go!

Yoga Glo is another go-to for me and Ivorie Jenkins is one of my all-time favorite Yogi’s. She has a prenatal series that is a wonderful mixture of education, movement and meditation. Another lovely human that you can just feel the beautiful energy of through the screen!

Pregnancy and motherhood is a life-changing, beautiful and hard experience. Be easy on yourself.

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1 Comment

  1. Sarah wrote:

    Thanks so much for this. I’m also pregnant with my second (due in early October) and this has been a much harder pregnancy than my first—in part because parenting a toddler while pregnant is rough and in part because the last time I was pregnant we were in the early days of COVID and I could just rest, nap, be in comfy clothing all day long (a silver lining to be sure!) I’m so happy to be pregnant and overall I enjoy the experience but it is not for the faint of heart! It’s exhausting and trying physically and emotionally. Sending you lots of strength for the remaining months.

    8.29.23 | Reply

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