“Sure, it’s magical and your hair looks great, but your nipples are leaking and you may have hemorrhoids, and we need to make it okay to talk openly about these things, too.”

So you’re pregnant. If you’re wondering whether all the glowing, moms-to-be on Instagram are depicting the full breadth of the pregnant experience, think again.

Meet Los Angeles-based woman Caitlin Benson who recently birthed a baby girl named Elliott. Like so many of us current-or-formerly-pregnant humans, Benson dealt with a lot of inconvenient growing pains, rude remarks, hormonal outbursts and other trials during pregnancy. But unlike most of us, she was actually honest about it on social media, documenting her experience using the hashtag #LetsBeHonestaboutPregnancy on her Instagram account @cait.not.kate.

Even from the beginning, Benson’s glowing photos were complimented by her adorably self-depracating captions.

And this was just the start. For nine months Caitlin regaled us with humorous quips about her changing body, including her… pooping habits.

“I think there’s a level of honesty and openness missing from pregnancy especially in the age of social media. It’s not all glory pictures in flower crowns gazing lovingly at a burgeoning bump,” says Benson. “Sure, it’s magical and your hair looks great, but your nipples are leaking and you may have hemorrhoids, and we need to make it okay to talk openly about these things, too.”

“I think there’s a level of honesty and openness missing from pregnancy especially in the age of social media. It’s not all glory pictures in flower crowns gazing lovingly at a burgeoning bump.”

Sure, Benson’s frankness might seem crass or, dare we say, unladylike to some, but we find her cavalier attitude refreshing and helpful in a culture that doesn’t encourage open conversation about the real emotional and physical changes that come with pregnancy.

“Self-care in pregnancy and postpartum shouldn’t be whispered about in hallways at work,” says Benson. “It’s time we just had very frank discussions about our bodies and all the good and the bad/weird that we go through during this journey. I figured posting videos and images to Instagram was a lighthearted way of addressing these things.”

Other highlights from Benson’s feed included play-by-play recaps of the unsolicited advice and uninvited touching she experienced as a pregnant woman.

“Pregnancy is a very outwardly-showing ‘condition’ and people always felt like they had the right to rub my belly. Yes, people touched me. Mostly co-workers, but I had a couple strangers at the grocery store and one man on the street who felt entitled to rub my belly because he was expecting a grandchild soon so he ‘understood’ what I was going through,” she says.

Any formerly pregnant woman can attest to the never-ending stream of advice to which you’re subject. And no topic is off the table. People weigh in on all aspects of your life, and your unborn child’s life, too.

 “I got advice about everything from what to eat and how to induce labor, to what type of drugs I should ask for at the hospital,” says Benson. “When you do your own thing during pregnancy people will act like you are genuinely insane if you don’t follow their advice. It’s like they’ve been through it and know what’s best for you. My thoughts though? Good for you, not for me.”

Other #LetsBeHonestaboutPregnancy posts took a more serious tone.  For example, this one which touched on the unspoken rules and “teams” that pregnant women and mothers are expected to take.

 

As can be expected, other #LetsBeHonestaboutPregnancy posts were focused on Benson’s changing body.

Despite the challenges, Benson insists that she loved pregnancy.

“I felt really connected to my body even if we were going through uncharted territory together. I just embraced it all– the 29 pounds I gained, the great hair and nails, the endless farting and constipation,” she says. “You take the good and bad together and once you accept it and can laugh at yourself, the easier it makes everything.”

For some people, pregnancy is documented by taking a smiling photo, caressing one’s bump and holding a chalkboard sign that depicts which fruit best represents the size of your fetus. More power to them!

These images don’t capture the pain, discomfort and exhaustion of pregnancy, though. Where is the morning sickness and fear, the apprehension and confusion, the frustration and insecurity? For the most part, the discomfort and full experience of pregnancy has been edited out in exchange for picture-perfect, basketball-shaped bellies and captions that talk about how very #blessed we are.

All except for Benson’s, that is.

 

“There were people who told me I was over-sharing– to be more discreet about my body. But that just fueled my fire even more to speak openly about everything,” she says. “Pregnancy shouldn’t be this time where our body is a complete mystery and you feel like you need to Google your symptoms to ensure you’re not the only weirdo on the planet who is constipated at 20 weeks pregnant.”

Benson’s parting advice for pregnant women?

None.

“Do your own thing. Find your tribe and ask for help when you need it. Everything else? Ignore it,” she says.

For the record, we’re all looking forward to Benson’s inevitable #LetsBeHonestaboutMotherhood posts featuring sweet baby Elliott. Keep up with Benson at @cait.not.kate on Instagram.

CREDITS

Mani

Mani

Editor

Shameless‘ Frank Gallagher was my father… but we never let him sleep outside in the snow.

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