Why Don’t We Talk About Sensual Pregnancy?

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Why Don't We Talk About Sensual Pregnancy? | Wit & Delight
Photo by Taisiia Shestopal on Unsplash

Emily Ratajkowski. Standing naked in a sunlit-bathed New York apartment, only the sound of taxi horns in the background. Her skin, glowing and dewy. Her mouth, eating a small snack. “I dreamed of you for the first time the other night,” she says to her mythical baby, a raspy voiceover against her slim legs rolling down the floor-length mirror. Paired with a baby bump, very minimal, growing outward from her.

She stands proud, rocking forward on her hips, back arched, running her hand through her hair and tilting her head at the mirror. The entire video, a crystal platter of flickering diary-like images. Emily looking down her clavicle. Emily caressing her frame. Emily against the still art of New York: white curtains in studio windows, concrete stoops, lavish beds. “We are waiting for you, wondering who you will be.”

I’ve never imagined the process of pregnancy to be so sensual and juicy. It felt instantly unfamiliar and gauzy and epically simplified. I’ve never been pregnant. But by watching this video I wanted to be, desperately, as if the carnality of the whole thing pushed emotions down to my guts; made me primal.

I watched Emily Ratajkowski’s pregnancy reveal video, the entire two minutes and forty-three seconds, and now I can’t stop thinking about her outie belly button and the buttery, decadent slope of her stomach. I don’t mean this in a gross way. But it was so….ungodly sexy? I’m not talking about the physical act of sex and orgasms. I’m talking about the visualization of sensuality. I’ve never imagined the process of pregnancy to be so sensual and juicy. It felt instantly unfamiliar and gauzy and epically simplified. I’ve never been pregnant. But by watching this video I wanted to be, desperately, as if the carnality of the whole thing pushed emotions down to my guts; made me primal.

Why haven’t I ever imagined pregnancy like this?

Kylie Jenner made a sexy pregnancy video too, paired with piano music and lots of Los Angeles sunbeams. In an Instagram post announcing twenty weeks, Emily Ratajkowski wrote: “20 weeks getting to know my new body.” She’s standing in front of a floor-length mirror, completely nude. And it gave me an epiphany, the way naked photos of Emily Ratajkowski often do.

It’s so wild to know so little about something my body is desperate to do. That’s what startles me the most. And perhaps, that’s what makes this “sensuous pregnancy trend” so stunning.

Kids aside, as a woman, the question of “who will you be” during pregnancy becomes a desolate unknown. And for some reason, if it’s displayed as epically, unapologetically sex, childbearing proves women have it. Something culture is just now getting used to. 

Think about it: Sex has never been “the part.” Women have always been seen as perverse. Men, on the contrary, conscious of sex. Often, it’s quietly assumed women get pregnant by walking through a cloud of semen or that children are grown from cold stumps in the ground. But, the thing is, impregnation is actually, in most cases, defined by sex. Women think about it, want it, vocalize it, write about it. So why can’t “dripping, earthly sensualness” be a part of the pregnancy process, too?

Women have always been fighting for a place to be sexual without being shamed to slut-doom. And I never thought about this embedded in the journey of reproduction. However, women are the embodiment of Mother Earth. The quintessential mother has infinite sexual, life-giving, and maternal capabilities. 

The thing is, impregnation is actually, in most cases, defined by sex. Women think about it, want it, vocalize it, write about it. So why can’t “dripping, earthly sensualness” be a part of the pregnancy process, too?

That’s why exploring the process of pregnancy in a sensual way shouldn’t feel like taboo. It should feel intriguing. My sexuality is a big part of the giving birth process. Isn’t it?

This is weird to admit in writing but I’m going to go for it. I’m really “turned on” by being pregnant. I mean this in a purely desirable, yearning way. When I think about “producing” I feel paramount about it. Growing a human is sacred and direct. I’m slowly understanding the reason I’m afraid to write about this animalistic feeling I get thinking about it. Pregnancy makes me feel powerful.

“Pregnancy is innately lonely; it’s something a woman does by herself, inside her body, no matter what her circumstances may be,” Emily Ratajkowski wrote in an article for Vogue. “Despite having a loving partner and many female friends ready to share the gritty details of their pregnancies, I am ultimately alone with my body in this experience. There is no one to feel it with me—the sharp muscular aches in my lower abdomen that come out of nowhere while I’m watching a movie or the painful heaviness of my breasts that now greets me first thing every morning. My husband has no physical symptoms in ‘our’ pregnancy, another reminder of how different a woman and man’s experience of life can be.” I want to believe Emily is describing the sense of power she feels here, without really knowing it at first. Power can make us feel lonely. She’s describing the capabilities she has over her husband suddenly; that sensitive breasts are perhaps a sense of endowment she’s never had. 

Alice Walker somehow wrote it best in In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens. “Though my stomach was huge and the baby constantly causing turbulence within it, I did not believe a baby, a person, would come out of me. I mean, look what had gone in. Men had every right to be envious of the womb. I’m envious of it myself, and I have one.”

Typically, the story of pregnancy has been about family and togetherness. Gender reveal parties and baby showers. A man and a woman, the core visual of reproduction, standing next to each other cutting a cake, baring the innards of blue or pink. For a woman, being pregnant is displayed as innately messy, strenuous, and private. This operative generalization displays a million other reasons that turn pregnancy into an individualistic journey. Carrying a child is owned by women. It’s about the power of natural skill. Have we ever been openly allowed to tell any story we want through that process? I’m not really sure, to be honest. Sometimes, yes. However, if we’ve been allowed to tell the whole story, I shouldn’t be so startled by my fiery, sexual desire to have children because of it. That’s the interesting part for me. Because I don’t know.

Carrying a child is owned by women. It’s about the power of natural skill. Have we ever been openly allowed to tell any story we want through that process? I’m not really sure, to be honest. Sometimes, yes. However, if we’ve been allowed to tell the whole story, I shouldn’t be so startled by my fiery, sexual desire to have children because of it. 

You know what’s weird? When I think about having kids, all I consider is the being pregnant part. I don’t imagine the after. The human, the little person that blooms onward into a bath full of oxygen. I don’t imagine the pain of childbirth. I imagine that being pregnant is simply the process of carrying. This is a slightly terrifying concept and it makes me wonder if the pink, vibrant sensuality of the experience is what keeps me wanting. Like Emily said so erotically in her pregnancy reveal video: “I don’t know who they would be.”

All throughout high school and well into college, I had nightmares about getting pregnant. The nightmares centered around my mother being disappointed in me and my belly growing to gallant size in a matter of seconds. Pregnancy feels like a looming doom it isn’t. I have only recently begun having decadent dreams of pregnancy—ones that match that accentuated, dripping sexy scene from the Emily Ratajkowski video. I grow slowly, proud of the bodily evolution. I touch my stomach a lot and it’s hard, like a globe. I am proud and excited. About what exactly? I don’t know. Not the child itself. But…my body changing. And that inevitable sense of innate power in potential.

Maybe that’s why sensual pregnancies are so appealing. There’s this out of control feeling of unknown and hopeful promise. It’s the personal edge; the independence. Sexy comes from loneliness and power within that loneliness, the singular change of body and the ability to change. Every women has been forbidden from being actively sexual, taking up space, roundness, visualizations in our hips and breasts. Sex offers us personal growth and new life. And we, in a singular manner, own that.

The unknown of pregnancy for me, someone who’s never been pregnant, strikes deepest in the bodily changes I won’t understand until they are actively changing me. Pregnancy is interesting because, as a woman, we don’t explore it until we’re right there, snug next to the moment. And I know the process is not all sensual. For example, I just learned about lightning crotch, a nickname given to describe the sudden, sharp pains that occur deep in your pelvis or vaginal area as you come closer to delivery. Um, holy shit? 

At the end of the day, no matter what carrying a child is for women, we should be able to define it ourselves. And right now, pregnancy, to me, feels voluptuous and stimulating. I’m not saying this means I’m finally ready to have kids. Or that my actual experience being pregnant will be that way. “Being ready” means something different for everyone. And so does the experience.

These sorts of truths make the sensual part of pregnancy sound even more ridiculous because pain is such a core element of the process. But sensuality can be part of pain, right? They can coexist. Pain is carnal. Sensuality is physical, fleshy, hedonic. Pregnancy is all of those things all at once. 

At the end of the day, no matter what carrying a child is for women, we should be able to define it ourselves. And right now, pregnancy, to me, feels voluptuous and stimulating. I’m not saying this means I’m finally ready to have kids. Or that my actual experience being pregnant will be that way. “Being ready” means something different for everyone. And so does the experience.

I do know my preference for pregnancy changes every day. I see the change in my dreams. And this newfound sensualness is a different piece of access for me. Maybe it means my body is changing in a way I’m unable to identify consciously. That’s something beautiful.

BY Brittany Chaffee - December 16, 2020

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Leave a Reply

Kate M

As someone going through the first trimester of their first pregnancy, I can assure you, it is anything but sensual! We’ll see what the other trimesters hold, but at least point, I think what needs to be normalized above all else is just how damn hard pregnancy is. Kudos to Emily Ratajkowskie for making it appear sensual!

Liz

Emily Ratajkowski is spelled incorrectly repeatedly.

Akeela Fowler

I value your thoughts (Katie and Brittany) and am personally aware of how hard pregnancy is in the early stages. However, at the beginning of another pregnancy (following miscarriage), I can say that I was remarking to my husband about the sensuality of pregnancy last night, and this article feels very spot on! I believe that there are a whirlwind of emotions, changes, and life happenings that can really affect how we experience our bodies during pregnancy. That being said, pregnancy presents a beautiful invitation for one to really connect with herself. And when this happens, the world stops spinning… Read more »

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