MICHELLE BATTERSBY: ‘I delayed a baby for my career. Now that I’m pregnant, I want to call out why I hesitated.'

I've spoken a lot about the reasons I delayed pregnancy for my career. Fear and uncertainty played a big role in that, and like many of you, I felt like it was a 'career or baby'. Unfortunately, there is still discrimination and stigma associated with pregnancy and parenthood in the workplace (that many of us have been exposed to or experienced firsthand).

As I've continued to work through my own fears and navigate maintaining my career (and leading my company) whilst being pregnant, I have been thinking a lot about how social media also contributed to my hesitations - and how it continues to. I wanted to call this out. Whether it's due to not being able to see yourself in the content that dominates our feeds, algorithms favouring extremities or society shaming someone for their take. We are absorbing the opinions and experiences of others, often unconsciously, and it can affect our life path more than I think we realise.

Watch: A spoken word video staring Laura Bryne articulating the contradiction of pressures that mothers face in their daily lives. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

When it comes to motherhood on the internet, the extremes dominating our feeds are usually one of two things - "beige mums" with curated nurseries, every baby product known to man and Michelin star cook-ups for their families - or exhausted mothers, sleepless nights, screaming and crying. Both are REAL examples of mothers doing their best, sharing their experiences and providing insight into their lives which can be helpful.


This piece is not about judging anyone for the content - it's about the effect that absorbing this can have on audiences. Specifically anxious ones navigating if, when and how this journey may look for them. It's critical to challenge ourselves to make up our own minds, to sit, reflect and interrogate what our own opinions are. And ironically, once you become pregnant you'll need this skill more than ever as every person and their dog will tell you how it's going to be.

Extremes on social media can lead viewers to feel like there are only two options when it comes to parenthood - perfect or hard, a baby that sleeps or a baby that doesn't sleep, easy baby or hard baby, traumatic birth or beautiful birth, career or baby - see where I am going with this? The reality is, all of this can be true at once. Your experience can be perfect, hard, with a baby that sleeps and doesn't, from a birth that was traumatic and beautiful, whilst you navigate your career (or whatever your thing is!) whilst raising your baby.

But, social media isn't set up to capture this. It isn't set up to capture nuance at all. It can be difficult to portray the details of true, lived experiences in the format styles that exist on social media so we will never really know the depth of someone from simply following them online. We all logically know that what someone shares online isn’t the full reality of their life, yet we allow what they share to have such a profound impact on us... Again, it's so important to consume, but consume consciously and pay attention to how anything on social media can impact your views on "reality".


For the above reasons, I've felt cautious adding my own content to the body of pregnancy content that exists but I keep coming back to "Would seeing something like this have helped me?" and the answer is yes. I have found myself in a state of ambivalence when it comes to pregnancy so far. A constant state of many conflicting thoughts occurring at the same time, and I've come to learn that that's where the beauty is:

1. It's the pride you feel when you've made it to the end of the day breaking down walls at work and growing a human.

2. It's holding your own in a meeting whilst your esophagus is on fire from acid reflux.

3. It's making it to the end of a meeting without vomiting or blacking out.

4. It's the fact you feel like you're mourning your old self, but you're also adding another layer to yourself.

5. It's feeling grateful and excited to be pregnant whilst also disliking it.

6. It's looking in the mirror and not recognising yourself whilst being more connected to your body and your intuition than ever before.

7. It's dealing with tough moments, having difficult conversations and stewing on things that feel really big - then feeling a little kick at the end of the day and letting it all go.

8. It's feeling more tired than ever whilst being more productive than ever before.

9. It's feeling anxious about what you might miss out on if you take time off whilst feeling your ambition reach new heights because you're not just gunning it for yourself anymore.


10. It's not being scared, but also not being sure.

11. It's not knowing how life will be once the baby comes, whilst already being in training for that exact moment for nine months prior.

12. It's being pregnant and running a company.

This is just my experience, and my nuance will not be yours, but I think it helps us all to see more than just good or bad, easy or hard online. Let's expose more of that. What have been or what were some of your conflicting emotions when it comes to pregnancy (or other transformative life stages)?

Disclaimer: You also don't need pregnancy to feel the weight of social media's extremes. I think my biggest takeaway from unpacking my fears (which ultimately are all related to growth at different life stages) is that we are all many things all at once, are always evolving, and we all experience conflicting realities and emotions (on any given day) as we navigate through that. Any major life experience occurring at the same time can bring on this state... moving, friendship, grief, etc. The important thing here is to allow yourself to listen consciously to what other people's experiences have been but then discover your own.

How did the depictions of motherhood on social media impact how you felt about pregnancy? Tell us in the comment section below.

Feature Image: Instagram @michellebattersby.