Why It's Important to Talk About the Not-So-Pretty Side of Pregnancy
Varicose veins and lactating third boobs might not be pretty, but they are real and someone is finally talking about them.
This story originally appeared on People.com by Sam Gillette
Pregnancy, OMG! by Nancy Redd is an unflinching look at pregnancy issues not often talked about, including depression, varicose veins-and even lactating third boobs.
"It's important that we feel comfortable with some of the scary and not-so-pretty things that can happen to us [during pregnancy]," Redd, the 36-year-old author of Body Drama and former Miss Virginia, says of her pregnancy guide, which published earlier this month. "I noticed a lot of the books sugarcoat some very serious issues that need to be addressed in a more direct manner. It's not always going to be beautiful, but it is beautiful to have that type of knowledge." (Did you know that it's totally normal to still look pregnant after giving birth?)
Redd is married to actor Rupak Ginn, with whom she has son August, 6, and daughter Nancy, 4. She explains in an exclusive with PEOPLE that being a mother and having a "devastating" miscarriage influenced the book. During her research, Redd discovered 40 different topics that most pregnancy books gloss over but that are blogged about by real moms. Her hope is that Pregnancy, OMG! will serve as a "one-stop shop" resource for pregnant women. The book features photos of real moms and plenty of advice to help women navigate everything from hyperpigmentation and excess itchiness to gender disappointment and that third boob. (Related: This Mom With IVF Triplets Shares Why She Loves Her Post-Partum Body)
"I found it really interesting how many things aren't discussed medically, but anecdotally. For example, a third boob happens to about five percent of women in pregnancy. It's actually very common, but you may not notice your third boob because it can look like a lump under a freckle. [My friend's] just happened to lactate," the author says of Genelle Billings, who is featured in the book.
By educating pregnant women, Redd also hopes that she'll help save lives. A 2017 investigation by NPR and ProPublica found that "more American women are dying of pregnancy-related complications than any other developed country." The study also shows that the U.S. is also the only first-world country in which the rate of women who die is on the rise.
Redd also made a point of photographing all types of women for her book. Pregnancy, OMG! features women of various races, backgrounds and body types. "We have so much conversation about diversity and inclusivity in fiction and entertainment, but I personally think [being inclusive in] nonfiction is even more important-especially when we're talking about medical stuff," she says. "For example, rashes and different types of skin conditions appear differently [in women of color] than they do in a person with pinker skin." (Related: This Mom Wants You to Know About the 'Dark Side' of Pregnancy and Motherhood)
She adds, "Linea Nigra looks different on a pale-skin lady than on darker skin. I wanted to showcase that so we can all know, 'Ok, that's what it looks like,' and we can all be informed." Redd's book also distinguishes itself from other pregnancy books on the market by diving into heavy topics like miscarriage, mental health issues, and single parenting.
"I have two children, but I had three pregnancies. I had a devastating miscarriage," explains Redd. "It was embarrassing and unexpected and horrifying. I thought I would never recover. And I wanted to talk about that." (Related: Gabrielle Union Shares That She Had "Eight or Nine" Miscarriages)
Pregnancy, OMG! (on sale now) even helps women navigate domestic abuse. "People are so quick to rub a stranger's pregnant belly, but they will not ask her, 'Is everything safe at home?'" the author says. "Considering how many women face tremendous pregnancy complications or tremendous partner complications, I feel like instead of patting the woman's tummy, pat the woman's back and ask how she's doing."
Overall Redd hopes her book will encourage readers to understand and respect every woman's body.
"We're in a space where people honor and respect inclusivity. We're changing mindsets, we are making differences," Redd says. "We can't change people's thoughts if they are not used to seeing bodies, especially a woman's body in a non-sexualized way. I want to show women's bodies that are not for the male gaze."