A survey of over a thousand women in the UK, reveals some interesting information about when pregnancy is used as an excuse to avoid things such as chores and socializing. The survey, conducted by a mass discount website found that the majority of women polled used pregnancy to get out of something– more than half said they did so regularly. The number one task women want to avoid? Household chores. 71% of the women polled said they used pregnancy as an excuse to get out of housework. And 68% said they used pregnancy as “an excuse” to eat more.
This survey caught my eye because I recall using pregnancy as a reason not to do things. But I’m not sure I’d call it an “excuse.” When I was in my first trimester and almost physically incapable of making an egg on toast, let alone stuffing and brussels sprouts for twelve, I sent out an email to the family explaining that for this Thanksgiving I’d bring some flowers and wine an that’s it. When it came to relatively unimportant social events, I knew I could bail and get away with it because I was pregnant. But was this a fib? I’m not so sure.
Why should a morning sick pregnant women squeeze in the backseat of a car for a long drive somewhere hot and stuffy for a day of socializing? Or go out to someone’s birthday where most guests will be downing martinis and slurring and generally not smelling good? Are women using pregnancy as an excuse to get out of these things, or am just changing their expectations?
I’d also like to know more about the women polled for this survey– were they working, not working? Did they have any other support? I found some of the working mothers I knew to be very adamant that pregnancy didn’t *change a thing* and plowed ahead as if the bump were a strap-on. I can relate to this; pregnancy shouldn’t jettison you back to the Victorian times, where you’re forced to basically just hole up on a fainting couch till the baby is born.
But on the other hand, pregnancy can make some things harder. And the culture– hell bent as it is on how women are just like men– can put us through some unnecessary shenanigans in the name of equality.
The irony to me is always that the first trimester is often the hardest, and that’s the time when you often can’t use pregnancy as an “excuse” to get out of things. Then when you’re gloriously seven months, everyone is like, Whoa there, take it easy! and you’re just fine. In fact, you may be feeling better than most people you know who are not pregnant and taking care of themselves. (And doing less housework.) Then when the baby comes, life gets much harder and suddenly those doors are not being opened any more. Now you’re just a shlubby mom with a stroller.
There’s also the question of whether a women needs to take better care of herself. I used pregnancy as an “excuse” to get a fancy gym membership to a really luxe facility with a pool. During lean non-pregnant times I’d have to run outside or go to some cheap crowded place with all the other regular people. I also “used” my pregnancy as a time to splurge on good food and never cook. Or rarely cook, anyway. But this seemed like a great idea to me then and it does to me now! And when I ate more “because I was pregnant,” it as probably because I was really hungry!
Here’s the breakdown of the UK survey. I’d be interested to hear what you guys think about this. Are these women really making excuses? Or just reasonable adjustments to expectations?
1. Household chores 71%
2. Eating more food 68%
3. Time off work “sick” 66%
4. Being short tempered 64%
5. Being less active 59%
6. Lay in 54%
7. Taking less care of their appearance 51%
8. Carrying heavy bags 48%
9. Driving 47%
10. Cooking 44%
Also, 17% claimed that they regularly used the fact that they were pregnant to get out of social events and 12% used it as a reason not to visit family members.
photo: sunday kofax/flickr