It’s time to discuss jealousy and the myth of the ‘perfect’ pregnancy

Is the easing of lockdown making you resent your friends drinking pints in the pub? You’re not the only one. Stylist explores jealousy in the Baby On The Brain podcast.

Bringing a child into a world is an amazing thing; full of surprises, excitement and endless supplies of love. But for many mums-to-be, pregnancy can also bring huge amounts of jealousy.

On episode six of Baby On The Brain, executive editor Fliss Thistlethwaite is joined by co-host and colleague Natasha Gandorta, and guest parenting blogger Molly Carnan. The three explore jealousy and the fallacy of having the perfect pregnancy. With Fliss and Natasha experiencing pregnancy during a pandemic and Molly now the mum of a two-year-old, they each have different experiences of jealousy, but all have had run-ins with the green-eyed monster.

“There’s a couple of things that I’d like to talk about today and one of them centres on my jealousy of people who seem to be having the perfect pregnancy,” begins Fliss. “I’m starting to feel jealous of all the pregnancy influencers that I follow on Instagram who look so great all the time and look like they’re having such a good pregnancy… I know it’s not the truth, but I still believe it.”

Natasha – who is 19 weeks pregnant with her first child – is all too aware of the faux nature of Instagram and the ability to portray a blemish-free life. She explains: “Other people’s pregnancies aren’t something that you can control so it’s just about stepping back and trying not to compare yourself.

“Just because it seems like someone’s having the perfect pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean they are. If they do happen to have the perfect pregnancy, great, but they might not have the perfect birth; or their kid might not sleep for longer than 20 minutes when it’s born. You’re always going to have some aspects that are better.” 

Thanks to her large family, Molly thought she would have a textbook pregnancy. She had close contact with her sisters when they were pregnant and knew, from a medical perspective, what to expect from it all. But for her, anxiety meant that the joy of pregnancy was taken away.

“My anxiety was absolutely through the roof for the entirety of my pregnancy. I was scared to pretty much do anything,” she tells the podcast hosts.

“Any pregnant woman that I did see seemed so calm and was looking forward to the future, and I’m there like a bag of nerves. I couldn’t enjoy scans; I was convinced that every scan appointment was going to be terrible news. I really struggled to enjoy pregnancy, so I do feel jealous of people who say they loved it.”

She explains that the influx of pregnancy influencers can be hard when it comes to feeling pressured to be positive or on top form for the duration of pregnancy. “You get the #blessed black and white picture of a woman with a perfect little bump next to a window with the light shining through and you think she’s so happy and content, having the most wonderful time and I’m sat here feeling like an actual dollop of shit. What am I doing wrong why is she having the most amazing time?

“There is a bit of stigma in complaining about it – not complaining about it – but voicing what you’re struggling with.”

Stylist’s Fliss adds that the easing of lockdown has added to her and Natasha’s feelings of jealousy and have caused them to begin to question whether they will begin to feel resentment and a level of FOMO that they didn’t experience in their pre-pregnancy lives.

“I’d love to be going to a pub right now and having a frozen margarita. I dream a lot about having an Aperol spritz or a pint and I’m jealous,” she says.

“It makes me think: will all of my childless mates be living my old life, and will I be jealous of that?”

But for all Fliss and Natasha’s concerns of FOMO and never being able to see their mates again, Molly reassures them that being a mother is not the end of that world and, actually, things can and do change for the better after giving birth.

A self-confessed “party girl” herself, Molly admits that she was scared of losing friends and being overcome by jealousy if she saw them on wine nights without her.

“I thought it would be the hardest thing during pregnancy and I’d be counting down the days until I could go and have a glass of wine in a pub garden,” she says. “When he [Oscar] was born, it couldn’t have been the furthest thing from my mind. My new baby present from my friend was a bottle of wine and it’s still in my fridge.”

“Just because you’re a mum, it doesn’t mean your life finishes. It just means it takes a bit more planning.”

Listen to the rest of the conversation on Baby On The Brain episode six on Apple and Spotify.

Been thinking about your fertility? Or perhaps you’re pregnant and worried about what happens next in your career? Stylist’s new franchise, Baby On The Brain, is here to answer all your motherhood questions.

This new digital space will be filled with discussions from different women airing their thoughts on motherhood, or the considerations around motherhood. But you won’t find information about the practicalities of sleep or feeding on Baby on the Brain. And this series is not about birth, either. This space is all about you, as women.

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