The pregnancy reveal is having a bit of a moment in the pandemic.
Confined to the comfort of our homes, many people have been able to hide a bump and only reveal they’re pregnant on their own terms (as opposed to when Bob from Accounting questions why you’re not drinking on the team night out).
Even our celebrity pals have been able to hide away from the world and share their joyous news only when they want. We’re appreciating you, Rihanna.
The singer, actress and beauty mogul melted the internet on Monday when she debuted her pregnant belly, pictured side by side with her partner A$AP Rocky.
Rihanna and Rocky eschewed the traditional studio photoshoot, opting for a paparazzi walk, the singer sporting an unbuttoned pink coat with all the glitz and glam only Rihanna knows how to deliver.
The pictures blew our minds as most of us didn’t know she was even pregnant. And she’s certainly not the first to surprise fans with good news of this kind.
Little Mix sent fans into overdrive when they revealed not one but two whole pregnancies (and three babies) as bandmates Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards sharing the news on social media days after the other.
Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner, Cardi B and a wealth of other celebrities also announced they were expecting during the past two years, but quarantine allowed them to keep it private for as long as they wanted. Many of us didn’t know their news until months into the pregnancies.
And just like them, other pregnant women have been able to hide the news until they’re comfortable, too. For many, the pandemic has meant no intrusive questions from strangers, no touching of bumps without consent, and no needing to disclose the fact to people who don’t really need to know.
We spoke to some of them about this surprise upside of being pregnant in a global pandemic.
Natalie Brown, writer and author of Confessions Of A Crummy Mummy 41, from East Sussex, already had three children before Covid times. When she got pregnant again in the pandemic, she says she was able to enjoy small luxuries she didn’t experience previously.
“Compared to my previous three pregnancies, being pregnant in the pandemic was a breath of fresh air – and a relief!” she tells HuffPost UK. “There were no unsolicited and unhelpful comments from total strangers like ‘gosh your bump is HUGE!’ or ‘gosh your bump is TINY!’ – a daily occurrence in my previous pregnancies – and nobody dared get anywhere near me to prod or pat my bump either!
“Because we were in lockdown and couldn’t go anywhere or see anyone I felt like I had more control over my pregnancy and could share what I wanted (and keep to myself what I didn’t want!) about the pregnancy on my own terms.”
Though there were perks, there were too difficulties, Brown acknowledges.
“Being pregnant and having a baby in lockdown was undoubtedly a challenge and I wouldn’t recommend it, but there were also lots of silver linings like no visitors and being able to enjoy the much-feted ‘fourth trimester’.
“There was no need to pull the drawbridge up and explain why we weren’t ready for visitors yet because the drawbridge was already up! There was also no pressure to look a certain way or dress a certain way because I could hide behind closed doors!”
It has been perfectly possible to go through en entire pregnancy without your friends or colleagues actually seeing you pregnant – and even on the endless pandemic Zoom calls, the above-the-waist framing means your bump (and comfy maternity wear) can be out of shot, unless you want it otherwise.
For Franchesca Flack. a 35-year-old writer based in Essex, these past few years have allowed her to enjoy and focus on pregnancy in private with her husband.
“The one thing that I cherished during pregnancy is being able to take a break,” she says. “In March 2020, when the government announced pregnant women were classed as vulnerable, I stopped working immediately. Previously I was juggling working locally in retail and travelling to London to freelance – usually on the same day. But lockdown, gave me time to stop, rest and watch my baby grow inside my tummy, privately.”
“After birth, my partner would have normally gone back to being out of the house from 5am to 6.30pm after two-week paternity, but thanks to Covid-19, he’s still working from home, 19 months on. His presence felt vital when I struggled physically during my C-section recovery and, mentally, when my baby blues turned into postnatal OCD with intrusive thoughts. If he wasn’t working from home, I dread to think how much my mental health would have spiralled.”
Flack was able to receive the support of her partner when she needed it most – and these stories are a reminder that while pregnancy and birth are something to be celebrated, they are not public property, however visible to the world.
As we look towards a future where Covid-19 may still be part of our lives, but not central to it, is it too much to hope we can keep some of these new ways of living – and that women’s private lives can be allowed to stay just that? Until such time as we’re ready to put on a fabulous pink coat and rock it like Rihanna.