Two months ago Alessandra Ambrosio, a well-known Brazilian model, walked in a Victoria’s Secret runway show, which, as you can imagine, meant she was in her underwear. What you might not have imagined if you saw her walking was that she was 2 months pregnant at the time. And neither did Victoria’s Secret.
Ambrosio, like many pregnant women, was afraid that if she told Victoria’s Secret about her pregnancy, they wouldn’t let her walk in the show. She admits that by that point in her pregnancy she had already gained a few pounds and that to combat the physical changes she cut sugar and worked out with a trainer for the 10 days before the show. I’m not going to comment on that part of it because I have some (unpopular) strong opinions about depriving yourself of carbs while pregnant, but safe to say, she looked pretty amazing on that runway.
She told her employers after the show and is now enjoying her second pregnancy in the open.
To me, this story sparks another sad conversation, and it’s one I understand on a much smaller scale. The fear that pregnancy is going to impact your job and your long term career. Pregnancy discrimination.
Obviously Alessandra Ambrosio is a special case where her pregnancy significantly changes her ability to perform her job as usual, but for plenty of other women who don’t work in their underwear, pregnancy can cause the same kind of fear. As a student my greatest fear when I found out that I was pregnant was that my NICU affiliation would be taken away because of the physical changes that might inhibit my performance.
I waited absolutely as long as I could to tell my clinical education coordinator and the hospital I’m going to be working at, and my upcoming clinical instructor was anything but pleased at my news. And while I hope to prove her wrong, it’s difficult to walk into a new job, a new setting, knowing that people expect less of you because you’re pregnant.
For other women it’s the fear of losing a promotion because of pregnancy, or having important accounts taken away because they are having a child. And sure, there are all kinds of unknowns in pregnancy, no one can predict who is going to have the easy, full-term pregnancy and who is going to have complications, but it’s just so unfortunate to me that when there are bigger and more important things to worry about, we have to worry about our jobs and careers too.
While employees are legally prohibited from discriminating against pregnant women, it seems that plenty of pregnant women like Alessandra Ambrosio still struggle to feel protected in their jobs.