Super Serena

After giving birth to my daughter, I was astounded by what my body had achieved.  I grew a person weighing 8 pounds and then I managed to get that person out of me.  For a few weeks afterwards I was in shock and awe at myself and at what a woman's body can do.  I then exclusively breastfed until my baby was five months and as we began the weaning process, I could not help but be amazed that it had been my body that had sustained her and made her strong.  Women's bodies are amazing!  I am sorry I hadn't realised it sooner.

There has been plenty of surprise at tennis player Serena Williams' announcement that she is 20 weeks pregnant, especially when people worked out she won a Grand Slam during the early stages of her pregnancy.  I am delighted for Williams and her partner - having a baby and creating a family is joyous - but I am equally delighted that she is changing perceptions about what pregnant women can achieve.

I had a good pregnancy; I had no morning sickness, no food aversions, no dizziness.  I was tired and needed a lot more sleep than usual and developed carpal tunnel towards the end, but I generally felt good.  I didn't have a single day off work and felt happy and healthy.  People commented frequently about how well I looked and how relaxed I seemed.  I was still completing Parkrun until 22 weeks and went the to gym twice a week until 26 weeks.

Such an easy pregnancy is not the same for everyone.  One of my sisters is currently pregnant.  Just as with her previous pregnancies, she is not having the easiest time of it; morning sickness throughout the day every day, strong food aversions and the beginning of back pain, which she expects to get worse.  Whenever we speak I realise how fortunate I was during my pregnancy, but just like me she is still at work every day and busy looking after her other three children and her home.

And in this respect my sister and myself are the same as Serena Williams.  We may not be elite athletes, but life and work do not stop because you are pregnant.  I carried on working in my pregnancy, and Serena's work is playing tennis and she has also carried on doing this during her pregnancy.  I am not belittling her achievements, instead I am celebrating what pregnant women are doing all the time - growing babies, working hard, living their lives.

It is time to stop seeing women as "the weaker sex".  For goodness' sake, we grow babies and can then feed them from our boobs.  Contractions and labour hurt, and yet it does not deter women from having more children, like my sister.  I wish Serena and her partner well and have nothing but praise for what she has done.  Serena Williams has stood on podia many times for her sporting achievements, but surely she should be on a higher pedestal for changing perceptions of what women's bodies can do.


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