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Strapping a Watermelon to Your Man Isn't Comparable to Pregnancy. Here's Why:

I've seen it. You've seen it. All over social media, women help their partners saran wrap a watermelon to their abdomens, then have their partners perform everyday tasks like putting on socks, getting into and back out of the bed, and picking things up from the floor. This can definately be entertaining - and offers a little empathetic insight to common pregnancy-related struggles. In fact, I've seen similar examples justifying that pregnancy can't be "that hard" because Mr. Man can do the thing carrying that weight just fine.

Pregnancy is beautiful, messy, amazing, and sometimes downright hard. Being witness to the "watermelon trend", I can't help but wonder what the subliminal cultural impact of this could have for pregnant women.

Sure, a Watermelon is Big & Heavy . . .

Here's the thing though - pregnancy is more than a big heavy belly!

The average weight of a large watermelon is 20 pounds. Women gain 30 pounds, give or take, during pregnancy. This is a combination of baby (6-10 pounds), placenta (1.5 pounds), amniotic fluid (2 lbs), increased blood volume (4 pounds, and increased fluid volume (3 lbs). The remaining weight consists of stored fat energy throughout the body (not just in the belly) for birth and breastfeeding, and varies from person to person and pregnancy to pregnancy.

Let's Get to Relaxin. . .

Relaxin is a hormone secreted from the placenta that is names quite literally. It relaxes and removes tension from joints, muscles, and ligaments throughout the entire body. Relaxin helps your body expand to accomodate your expanding uterus during pregnancy. It allows your ribs to widen, your abdominal muscles to separate, and it loosens the muscles and ligaments in your pelvis for your upcoming birth. But remember, the effects are not limited to your core and pelvis! Relaxin affects your neck, shoulders, back, breasts, legs, feet . . . you name it!

The effects of relaxin mean less stable joints, which can also mean pain - particularly in your pubic sympysis or sacroiliac joints - making basic tasks like rolling out of bed and changing positions extra tricky, particularly if you're experiencing symphasis pubis dysfunction (SPD) or sciatia.

I had a dollar for everytime I got "stuck" trying to get up from the floor or even my bed during my second pregnancy - well - let's just say I'd have a LOT of dollars. Even being mentally prepared, the sharp splitting sensation I felt in my pubic bone during position changes caught me by surprise and left me in tears on more that one occasion. I know a watermelon sure doesn't have that effect, and I'm not convinced there's a way to simulate what functioning with SPD (symphasis pubis "dysfunction") can be like.

Nothing is Quite Like Those Sweet Baby Kicks. . .

There's no denying how absolutely magical it is to feel the little flutters, hiccups, kicks and stretches of another life living inside of your body. It's difficult to describe the sensation.

Although adding a big ol' melon to your belly sure does add some pressure, it cannot mimic the pressure of a baby nestling deep down into your pelvis - the pressure on your nerves (uh, hello lightening crotch!) or the super weird feeling of someone pressing on your ribs from the inside. Even typing this, I'm finding myself with muscle memory, arching my back as if to make more room for those impressive BIG, BIG verticle stretches that interrupt otherwise very comfortable positions.

Understating the Effects of Pregnancy

Unless you've been pregnant, it's hard to relate to the inconveniences of nausea, urinary frequency, and fatigue that almost all pregnant women experience at some point. Ironically, these are some of the first symptoms of pregnancy in addition to breast tenderness and a missed period, and are also the most commonly portrayed pregnancy symptoms in visual media.

I've come to the conclusion that the comedic portrayal of these experiences has led to the dramatic normalization and even detrimentally understated effects of pregnancy for some women. We've seen this effect with portrayals of birth in the media: the dramatic onset of strong contractions, waters breaking, and rushing haphazardly to the hospital - usually with yelling or screaming involved and a team of medical professionals holding the authority. In real life, this translates to downplaying and gaslighting women's experiences of obstetric violence and birth trauma.

The watermelon trend can be a fun way to playfully connect with your partner, and maybe even build some compassion about mobility obstacles. I'm absolutely not opposed to a little fun! I do think, however, that it's worth considering how a trend perpetuating the belief that pregnancy is comparable to wearing a watermelon can affect the way we as a culture view, understand, and empathize with pregnancy and pregnant women as a whole.

Are you familiar with the watermelon trend?

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