By Ruchyeta Bhatia
For centuries, women have held the position of homemakers. Domesticated, they reared children and managed the household. Thankfully for all of us reading this, times have changed. It has taken centuries of struggles by some incredible women and men to get us here. Here, in a world that has millions of women in the workforce, holding various positions of power in every corner of the globe. Of course, things are far from perfect but we’re moving in the right direction every day.
Why, then, is it still considered that women can’t work through pregnancies? Pregnant women have worked in factories, run businesses, travelled and juggled projects, even worked as house helps and gone on to deliver perfectly healthy babies. This is not to say that medical supervision isn’t needed. Of course, that’s the priority. But assuming she’s considered fit to work and takes adequate care to keep herself safe and comfortable, I do not see any reason to even debate if women should work through pregnancies. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was pregnant when sworn in and actually delivered her child in the first few months of taking office. If women can run countries when pregnant, there’s little room for any other doubt.
As an expecting mother of twins, I can personally vouch that working through the pregnancy is no different. In fact, I constantly find myself even more excited to give more at my workplace. Sure, there are some slight changes that one may bring in to fit into the routine. Regular doctor checkups and scans, more regular eating and exercise, careful commutes and ensuring proper rest. But honestly, these are things that even a non-pregnant person must make time for while working.
I strongly feel that as women, it’s our responsibility to take charge of our work lives too. Just as pregnancies are personal choices, working through or taking a break, should solely be the choice of the expectant mother. Personally, working through all my stages of pregnancy has helped me stay happier, fitter and feel more fulfilled. It works differently for different women, but if your work inspires you, there’s no reason expecting a child should stop you from walking your path.
However, we do need to work on normalising pregnant women being in the workforce. Depending on the industry, there need to be laws that allow women self-care time, flexibility in schedules and the respect of being treated as an equal. In 2017, India passed the Maternity (Amendment) Bill that increased women’s paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, making it the third largest in the world. Despite this, only one per cent of Indian women are benefiting from it because it’s only applicable to those who work in companies with at least 10 employees. In that sense, it is a ‘phantom legislation’ that benefits only the elite. We need large scale laws that actually help more women, and from there we can spark the light of having real, on-ground impact.
Happier women are happier mothers, raising happier children and happier society. The journey begins with the pregnancy and every woman should have the choice to choose happiness over all else!
(The writer is Co-founder & Director of Love & Cheesecake and Poetry by Love & Cheesecake.)
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