Why Don't We Talk About The 'Bizarre' Side Effects Of Pregnancy?

Pregnant friends appear so keen to maintain the image of the glowing goddess, the one that is so widely portrayed via social media and glossy magazines, that they are reluctant to talk about, or even acknowledge, what they are going through:
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So how was pregnancy for you?

Or do you not want to talk about it?

That seems to be my experience so far.

The pregnancy side effects

Pregnant friends appear so keen to maintain the image of the glowing goddess, the one that is so widely portrayed via social media and glossy magazines, that they are reluctant to talk about, or even acknowledge, what they are going through:

-That they haven't pooped 'properly' for months.

-That their nipples look like they have nipples (Montgomery glands going nuts) and

-That their lady parts are so swollen (thanks to the volume of blood circulating down there) that they look like they've been given the 'bee sting' treatment, so favoured by the Kardashians (on their mouth lips) to get that trout pout just so.

Or is it just me?

In which case, don't get me started on the daily discovery that my knickers are so wet I think I've peed myself, but I haven't. It's just the self-cleaning system the vagina has developed, over the millennia, going into hyper-drive, lest any bacteria should stray anywhere near my precious cargo/nine-month resident parasite.

Too much information? Good.

Why are pregnancy and labour still so taboo?

I'm sick to the back teeth of something that 50% of our tiny green planet's population endure, being treated as a huge secret...The first rule of pregnancy club seems to be that you don't talk about pregnancy club.

So, let's break the taboo.

Did your pregnancy meet all of your expectations? Or did you find yourself Googling the random symptoms (that we all experience) to make sure that you were in fact having a baby and not afflicted with some unknown tropical disease?

I just don't understand the lack of willing to talk about the more bizarre 'side effects' that we all suffer through. It's not shameful, it's not humiliating. It is part and parcel of growing life. But in my (granted very limited) experience, everyone, bar the odd few 'weirdos' (like me) will not stick their head above the parapet, and say it how it really is.

Thus my cobbled together knowledge of 'a normal' pregnancy has been validated based on what I could source online.

I thought, as I cramped my way through my fourth month, that I would throw caution to the wind, and purchase a copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting, anticipating all of my pregnancy symptoms to be listed in this most prized tome.

And guess what. They weren't.

Instead, page after page, were the common symptoms. No mention of swollen lady lips or Montgomery gland outbreaks. It was all sugar-coated and tied up in a pretty pink bow.

So I started following the likes of Hurrah for Gin or The Unmumsy Mum, because they keep it real. And real is what I need. I don't want to know about the best case scenario that only a handful of pregnant women experience. I want to know about the realities of pregnancy, warts and all (not that I've got warts, but I would tell you if I did).

I've read some utter dross criticising these slummy mummies for talking about their coping strategies. And is seems to me this idea, that anything less than perfection is failure, has seeped through to pregnancy too. And labour.

Story after story on mumsnet, or the myriad of other parenting advice websites, seem to be about how much of a failure a new mum feels, because she couldn't give birth without pain medication. Or that little Johnny, aged 2 days old, isn't sleeping through the night yet.

If we just spoke about the realities of this awesome experience, the good, the bad and the ugly, maybe expectations wouldn't be so high.

I don't think it's possible to overshare, if you want to know this stuff.

I get that there are social limits to where and when you should talk about it, I mean, don't bandy it about on your Facebook profile:

'Aly Johnson currently has areola the size of dinner plates and expanding, LOL'.

But at the same time, we shouldn't feel the need to hide it and pretend it's not happening to us, lest we be seen as social pariahs.

Women should go into labour armed with all the facts, hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. And knowing that in the days, weeks or months to come, their child, who doesn't come with a manual for its parents, let alone a clue of what to do itself, is a unique individual, who has to learn what the hell is going on for themselves. And they will cry, because that is the only way they can communicate. AND THAT IS NORMAL.

The reason I started this rant?

The 'anti' natal classes

The husband and I signed up for ante-natal classes and the midwives who ran the sessions aimed their advice at the lowest common denominator. They apologised for talking about the vagina and were less than forthcoming about the realities of labour, unless really pressed on it, in which case, they screwed their faces up and kept saying 'but don't worry, that won't happen to you'.

They then concluded our three sessions (us £300 lighter and none the wiser) by asking us not to talk about our birthing stories until the last person had had their baby, in case we scare anyone.

The husband and I left scratching our heads and questioning what had just happened. We probably would have got more out of it if we'd all sat around, held hands and sung Kumbaya.

Which is why I've concluded, with four weeks to go, to anticipate it hurting, to expect the unexpected and that giving birth will feel like passing a large, slippery eel.

But what do I know, no one will talk about it.

HuffPost UK Parents has launched 'Mumbod', a new section to empower mums and mums-to-be to feel confident about their bodies pre- and post-baby. We'd also love to hear your stories. To blog for Mumbod, email ukblogteam@huffingtonpost.com. To keep up to date with features, blogs and videos on the topic, follow the hashtag #MyMumbod.