What Pregnancy Is Like, According to Stock Photos

I want to start off by saying that I think pregnancy photos are beautiful. They capture the fleeting time in our lives when we are growing a child in our wombs. Each picture captures the miracle of our bodies changing to make room for our growing baby and it’s quite a sight to behold.

But have you ever noticed how completely unnatural and unrealistic pregnancy stock photos are? Parenting stock photos in general are so disconnected from the actual experience of parenting that there’s a whole Tumblr (“It’s Like They Know Us”) devoted to the subject.

It’s time for some real talk: we pregnant women don’t balance things on our bellies in a field of long grass and lavender and we don’t always wear crop tops to the gym.

Here are some examples of what the pregnant women in stock photos tell us about the experience of expecting, versus what this pregnant woman is saying in real life.

1. We randomly sit in the middle of fields looking blissful.


What the pregnant woman in the photo is saying: I’m in a field. With nature. And my baby. Do you see my baby belly in nature? Mother nature. My baby and I are one with mother nature. Bliss.

What a pregnant woman in real life is saying: Why am I in a field? The only reason I’ve been sitting here so long is because I can’t get up. Also? I’m itchy all over. I think pregnancy has made my skin sensitive to grass or just nature in general. Yep, that’s a rash. Is it the grass giving me this rash or is it because I had strawberries earlier? Oh god, the rash is spreading. Yep, it’s going up my butt crack. Stop taking pictures and get me out of this freaking field!

2. Ribbons are for tying around bellies.


What the pregnant woman in the picture is saying: My baby belly is not only beautiful, but it’s a gift. All children are a gift. I can’t wait to unwrap this precious gift soon!

What a pregnant woman in real life is saying: In case y’all missed the memo, I’m pregnant. Can someone tell me why I’m wearing a crop top in public? This is humiliating. Not to mention, all this coconut oil I rubbed on my stomach to prevent stretch marks is making me slippery. Is it possible to “unwrap this gift” and hand me an extra large shirt that goes down to my knees? I’m feeling vulnerable, irritated and sleepy. Thanks.

3. We like to balance miscellaneous baby products on our bellies.


What the pregnant woman in the photo is saying: Look at me balancing these adorable booties on my bare belly! I just wanted to give you a good visual. See, there’s a baby in my belly and some day soon, these booties are going to fit on my baby’s little feet!

What a pregnant woman in real life is saying: Why am I balancing shoes on my bare belly? Really, why? On the same note, why does everyone demand I pull my shirt up? I’m getting exhausted from covering up my stretch marks with my arms and trying to distract you from noticing the freak hair trail that’s started growing from my belly button down to my lady garden. I’d rather be balancing a bucket of KFC, if I’m being totally honest.

4. We really like to balance miscellaneous baby products on our bellies in nature.


What the pregnant woman in the photo is saying: Look everyone. I’m balancing adorable booties on my belly again — in nature. Mother nature. I’m a mother. Get it? Bliss.

What a pregnant woman in real life is saying: Why am I in nature again? I told you guys, this pregnancy has made me allergic to it! Now get these freaking booties off my belly before I have to rub Benadryl cream on my butt again.

5. We pose next to hand weights.


What the pregnant woman in the photo is saying: Fitness is my number one priority during pregnancy. Healthy mommy, healthy baby, I always say. Also, I’m lifting my shirt up to really bring the point home. I’m pregnant, see? And healthier than you. And more physically fit. Honestly, I’m just better than you in general. Look at my hand weights! 

What a pregnant woman in real life is saying: I can’t believe I let you people talk me into going to the gym. I’m wearing flip flops because my feet look like a loaf of bread busting out of my athletic shoes. Oh great, one of the personal trainers keeps eyeing me down like he wants to say something about my illegal flip flops, but he’s scared because I’m pregnant and unpredictable. Um, also, I’d like to exchange this pregnancy crop top with an actual tank top that covers my stomach, thanks. I wouldn’t show this much skin pre-baby, why would I be comfortable doing it now? I’ve done two reps and I’m already starving. I should sit down, but my hemorrhoids are flaring up again.

6. We like to decorate our bellies with flowers.


What the pregnant woman in the photo is saying: Isn’t this fun! I glued flowers to my baby bump because I felt like being silly. I think all women should embrace their bellies and turn it into a piece of art!

What a pregnant woman in real life is saying: What am I, a freaking prop? Get these flowers off my belly before I have a meltdown worse than when my husband ate all of my Boston cream pie flavored yogurt.

7. But not as much as we like to paint clocks on our bellies.


What the pregnant woman in the photo is saying: Look at this fun illustration of counting down the time until baby comes! It took the artist about two hours, but it’s well worth it. I’m just going to wear one of my many crop tops so I don’t smudge the paint while I run some errands today. Take a picture, let’s put it on Facebook. Weeeeee!

What a pregnant woman in real life is saying: This idea is cute and all, but how long am I supposed to let my belly just hang out in the breeze? I can’t believe it took two hours to paint this stupid thing, I’m starving. The least you could do is provide muffins or Ritz crackers. Hand me my shirt, let’s get lunch. Oh no! No, God — why?! I got paint got all over my favorite pregnancy shirt! No, I’m not crying thank you very much, I’m just upset — this is the only shirt I really feel comfortable in. Ok, fine! I’m crying! I loved this shirt you jerks!

8. Favorite meal: dry salads in clear bowls.


What the pregnant woman in this photo is saying: Health is my number one priority. I want you to know this which is why I’m eating it in a clear bowl, so you can see it firsthand. Nothing artificial, no hidden sugars. Just raw, delicious vegetables. I feel so alive when I eat healthy foods and my baby is going to be perfect because of it!

What the pregnant woman in real life is saying: Does anybody have some ranch? No? Ok, well I’ll shovel in a few bites. Thankfully I have some crushed Nutter Butters at the bottom of my purse to tide me over until dinner.

I guess my point is — there’s something about a pregnant woman that makes everyone want to turn her into some blissful, silly, unrealistic gimmick with flowers taped to her belly while curling dumbbells. In reality, we’re just waddling over to Old Navy, totally pissed their maternity section is just a rack with a few lackluster T-shirts that have makeup smears on them.

It really is a beautiful time and I love capturing what will feel like such a fleeting phase in retrospect. I’m just wondering if it can be done without wearing a crop top showing everyone my freak show belly button and tummy sideburn? I think so.

Now, please, pass me a dry, healthy salad with a big side of ranch. Just writing this took a lot of energy.

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