Women have been getting pregnant and having babies since… well, since Eve, I suppose, but trust Hollywood to turn this awkward, uncomfortable time of life into something glamorous and desirable. “Women are obsessed with wanting to know everything about celebrity pregnancy,” spouts Kim Gundy. “Pregnancy is the new black!” Kim is the editor of CelebrityPregnancy.com; she knows what she’s talking about. Celebrity Pregnancy is one of two sites recently acquired by the SheKnows network, targeting young mothers preoccupied with style and pop culture.
If pregnancy is the “new black,” that’s because it makes everyone look good. Even those celebrities you can’t stand become a bit more lovable when they’re with child.
But even lovable has its limits! It’s not enough for celebrities to flaunt their designer-clad bellies, oh no! Nicole Kidman is following a hallowed celebrity tradition and will be hiring a photographer to pose for naked pregnancy photos… but wants to wait a bit so that she’ll look “really pregnant.” I don’t know about you, but the last thing I need to see is another retouched, airbrushed photo of another “glowing” celebrity mom-to-be.
For centuries, women have been getting pregnant and getting through it, but now pregnancy is not just a means to an end, it’s a destination all of its own.
“Pregnancy used to be something camouflaged and endured, nine months of achy backs and euphemisms and elastic waistbands with a 7-pound, 9-ounce reward at the end.” The Washington Post has caught on to the fact that “after centuries, somebody has figured out how to fully monetize this process.” For a certain kind of mom with a certain kind of priority, pregnancy is a heady blur of spa visits and personal pregnancy chefs, of baby planners and “babymoons.” At pregnancy spas you can slather yourself with Mama Mio Tummy Rub butter as you enjoy a “Yummy Tummy” belly facial. Women who have never had a proffessional massage before treat themselves to the “Perfect Pregnancy” massage and a manicure using “pregnancy-appropriate” essential oils and polishes, of course.
Apparently, the pampered pregnancy is not just a rite of the rich. Dawn Bierschwal, who owns Becoming Mom near Cincinnati, estimates that 50 percent of her prenatal massage clients had never had a rubdown before their pregnancies. Why has pregnancy suddenly become part of a luxury experience? The Washington Post‘s answer is age and money:
Between 1990 and 2006, the birthrate for women 40 to 44 increased 65 percent, and doubled for women 45 to 49, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. As women have babies later, the pregnancy-as-movie scenario starts to look more like “Baby Mama” than “Juno,” with more fertility treatments and high-powered moms who may have waited too long.
When those women do conceive, it is cause for planning and celebration and rapid disposal of disposable income. Consulting plans at the Baby Planners begin at $500. Delivered meals from Fresh Mommy are $65 a day. Spa treatments for the pregnant are upward of $100 apiece.
It’s a new phenomena that developed over the last 20 years, says Clare Hanson, author of “A Cultural History of Pregnancy.” It’s become very fashionable to be pregnant. Pregnant women are expected to have the right kind of body, eat the right kind of food and do the right kind of exercise. And because carrying a child is such important work, pregnant women want to be nurtured and they’re willing to pay for it.
Of course if you ask them, they’ll tell you it’s not about them, it’s about the baby. “The Hot Mom to Be Handbook” assures expecting women that the best way to ensure their baby’s happiness is “to cultivate your own spirit and enjoyment of life. It is never too early to start.” This trend continues on after baby is born. While Jami Pennings was breast-feeding she watched her husband eat cold cereal for dinner while she ate gourmet, home-delivered meals. “I knew the baby had to get good nutrition, and whether I did was pretty secondary. I was consuming it, but it was really for her.” She had no choice. She had to do it for her baby.