Keep Your Pregnancy to Yourself
On December 3, ABC News published “Tocophobia, Or fear of childbirth, On the rise,” which cites college-aged women explaining their fears. I’m pregnancy-phobic, and it’s all the Internet’s fault. With dozens of videos on YouTube of birthing experiences, I’ve witnessed too much about the joys of giving birth to even fathom the idea of having something develop inside my body and then push its way out. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in my fear — it’s perfectly rational. A phobia constitutes an irrational fear. But being afraid of someone growing inside your body, someone who will make you gain weight, change your lifestyle, make every aspect of your life more difficult, and culminate in the most painful experience of you’ve had isn’t something I yearn for.
“Keep going! You’ve almost got it! Good girl!” The nurse kept encouraging the woman as she shouted, “I feel like I’m actually taking a shit!” This isn’t what you picture when you think of your birthing experience and it certainly isn’t what they show you in the movies. But it’s what you can see on YouTube from your own home when you search for the “Birth of Ethan” video — and Ethan isn’t alone in the explicit display of childbearing on the Internet.
Seeing someone give birth should be reserved for the birthing room and the family. Ethan’s eventual friends shouldn’t be able to Google his birth if they want to and I, a complete stranger, certainly shouldn’t be able to see it.
I believe other women when they say that giving birth was one of the most important experiences of their lives. But I also know that adrenaline and other hormones are making that experience seem like something beautiful to those women. What they see and what I see when looking at a video of someone give birth is different. They’re thinking about their child and how wonderful it’s been to watch them mature. I’m thinking that it seems incredibly painful and worrying that it could happen to me.
ABC quoted many college-aged women to show that a younger set of women, those who would be giving birth to children in the next decade or so, are afraid of the process. By quoting women in that age demographic they’re trying to prove that tocophobia could be a problem for our generation when it comes to bearing the next set of children.
We all know how much YouTube and Facebook have changed social interactions, but I’m not sure anyone expected it to include childbearing and rearing. You can see several variations of birth on the Internet and you can keep track of former friends’ children and see how they’re developing as babies. We’re not just seeing some abstract health class video anymore or some glamorous Hollywood rendition of birth. We’re seeing women deal with some serious, life-threatening pain.
Seeing pregnant women reminds me of what my body was built for, and that it could very well be a beautiful experience. Historically and biologically I’m supposed to desire that, but when I see children and pregnant women, I can’t help but cringe. There are children all over the world who haven’t learned how to speak or crawl, but they’ve had thousands of hits on YouTube, where people have seen their birth or them moving in their mother’s stomach.
We’re seeing them develop before they’ve seen the world. Having a social presence on the Internet should be a choice, and young children can’t choose.
I’m not shaming anyone’s life choices. Have babies if you want to. Be pregnant. Enjoy it. All I’m saying is that pregnancy and the Internet shouldn’t go together. If it’s supposed to be the “joy of life” then shouldn’t that be reserved for the joyous people around you? Don’t let your baby go viral.