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Since When Did Becoming Pregnant Stop Being A Woman’s Choice?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Creating a family is considered, for some, their ultimate life goal. Come into the world, grow up, study, get a job, find someone you love, have children, get old, and pass together. They believe that by achieving these, they will be happy and have a great life. However, that is not everyone’s true.  

Nowadays we see way more people considering not having children and just being happy with what they already have. Especially young adults, but women in general are keener to postponing their pregnancy for when they are more stable or when they are ready for it. A 2018 survey made in the U.S. by Pew Research Center points out that for people between 18 and 49 who are childless, 44% of the interviewed say they are not too or not likely at all to have children someday, – an increase of 7 percent compared to the 37% who said the same in a 2018 survey – while only one in four plans to.

Even though more people nowadays do not want to have children, women are still being asked questions about pregnancy, implying that they are going to have children at some point. “What will you do if you get pregnant?”, “it is just natural that women become mothers”. Not only are these thoughts old-fashioned, but they also generalize women, reducing them to pregnancy.  

These comments also collaborate with the idea that women are bound to have children, and so, it becomes a woman’s duty to carry children. Pregnancy is treated differently because it is considered an obligation and a must-doing. It is not always a woman’s choice to have children, it is forced onto us by a culture in which those who are childless are wrong, strange, or unusual.

Even though imposing pregnancy makes women feel uncomfortable and besides the fact that women are expected to take care of children, there are also some contradictions within what we go through.

Do we have to have children or not?

Being exposed or mistreated during pregnancy is considered a common form of harassment. Maternal harassment, commonly known as “matahara” is a reality that affects not only pregnant women but women in general. They can be drastically affected by coworkers and hostile workplaces, especially during their pregnancy, risking labor complications.

But we must not forget that “matahara” can be in forms such as refusal to hire a pregnant candidate or someone who is already a mother or even the lack of reasonable accommodations. Women who do not want to enter motherhood are also affected by the possibility of being pregnant and judgment from others.

Society demands the woman to take care of their family. Brazil, for example, has a 120-day maternity leave and only a 5-day paternity leave. This shows how women are demanded by law to take care of their newborn children, while dads only take care of documentation for the child. 

With all these situations women go through it is hard to believe that pregnancy is a private matter where only a couple discuss whether to have children or not. Talking about pregnancy is not only about babies, but about career, family, and social circles. Pregnant women’s bodies became publicly accessible a long time ago and instead of ignoring them, we should learn how to deal with it.


The article above was edited by Clarissa Palácio.

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Mariana Lumy

Casper Libero '27

Journalist and student at Cásper Líbero in São Paulo, Brazil. In love with journalism since I was 15 years old. Now, with 18, I write about culture, health and social aspects that impact our daily life.