This article came in a Hindi daily on the necessity of motherhood for a woman. The author of the article is a female gynaecologist. One or two sentences in the article seemed to emphasize too much on the importance of motherhood for a woman to feel happy, healthy and to feel complete. “A woman’s body is made in such a way that childbirth keeps her happy in mind and healthy in body”; “A child is an inseparable part of woman’s body, her whole life’s spindle and aim too.”
This made me question the actual necessity of motherhood for a woman. There must be many women who would have wanted to conceive a little later after marriage, after preparing themselves mentally for the huge responsibility. Can a girl of 22-23 years prove to be a good mother, even if thats the ideal age for childbirth? She may but also she may not. After all with age, comes maturity and wisdom. I personally think a newly married couple should give each other a couple of years time before becoming parents. In fact for a couple who have been married for few years but as mentioned in the article, feel doubtful & unprepared to have a child due to busy careers, are right to take their time and not give into societal and familial pressure. When the double income group just has kids to please the parents and shower everything on the child except time and good parenting, the outcomes are disastrous. Parenting is no joke and is not so easy in today’s modern world especially in nuclear families. Whats the point in conceiving if the father is not emotionally available? Or if post childbirth the duties fall on the mother’s shoulders? Like she is the one supposed to warm the bottle of milk or change the infant’s diapers or attend to the midnight bawls or clean his/her potty. Thats just unfair. An understanding and cooperation must be developed before a couple becomes parents. Above all the couple must be ready to have their lives changed forever. They should not later feel like this is not what they had bargained for.
I’m sure there are many new mothers who are at their wits’ ends by the incessant crying, sleepless nights and constant vigilance; who don’t always feel the joy of motherhood 24*7!! Many girls and women who don’t feel like becoming a mother due to whatever reason, are afraid to voice their actual thoughts and wishes, so as to not shock their partners and family members. For its a crime to utter “I don’t want to be a mother” by a woman because apparently as per society and also mentioned by the author of the article, the ultimate destiny/aim of a woman’s body is to bear a child!! Women with reproductive problems are looked down upon and made to feel incomplete by imposing the word “barren” on them. Even if in a couple, the husband may be the one reproductively challenged, its the wife who is blamed without proper medical investigation in many cases. [Off topic yet relevant, if a couple is having girl child, the woman is again blamed whereas its been biologically proven that the chance of a male child depends on the father]
As for the effect of childbirth on health, there are some important advantages of pregnancy. But there are some disadvantages too like childbirth-related post-traumatic stress disorder which in turn has other effects. Also one must not forget the excruciating pain of labor and a woman has every right to be scared of it and abhor motherhood due to that fear, especially when one is not prepared to bear so much pain for some “Promised Joys of Motherhood”.
In conclusion I would like to say that I’m not trying to belittle the happiness of being a mother. And I don’t refute the biological advantages and social needs of the same. All I think is that a woman should have the freedom to choose whether she wants to be a mother or not. Motherhood should happen after proper planning and preparedness, mentally, physically and emotionally. The onus of taking care of the baby should not lie only with the mother and duties should be equally shared by the father. And if a woman doesn’t want or is unable to conceive or is advised against conception due to some other health problem , then she should not be made to feel bad and guilty about herself. Motherhood is not a thing to be forced upon a woman.