No one of sane mind would claim that pregnancy is easy.
For some women, however, the experience goes far beyond the usual symptoms of morning sickness and back pain.
With conception comes unforeseen conditions and illnesses that range from disruptive and terrifying to life threatening.
What should be a celebratory occasion descends into a miasma of physical symptoms, anxiety and fear, and there is no guarantee that these will subside when the baby is born.
We live in a society that lauds fertility and all-too-often depicts pregnancy as a beatific state in which mothers-to-be nest in pastel maternity wear. It makes the contrary stories even more powerful, but they are by no means uncommon.
Here, five women describe the realities of their pregnancy.
Claire Rees, stylist
I had migraines for the majority of my pregnancy, which meant I had to give up work early, spend most of last Christmas in bed and I wasn’t able to take anything other than paracetamol, which was, of course, useless.
I had total insomnia for the entire pregnancy and vast edema (I could poke almost my entire finger in my ankle) as well as furious itching, vile migraines, depression and paranoia.
I was also enormous but nobody sussed that I was carrying a 12.5lb baby, so I tried for a natural birth and ended up with emergency C-section.
Pre-eclampsia hit, my baby wouldn’t breastfeed, I got an infection, had a blood transfusion and developed post-natal depression (big surprise).
My sister, a mother of five, said that it was no wonder I quit after the one.
Patricia Gachagan, author
I was delirious when I found out I was pregnant.
It was my second pregnancy: seven months previously I devastatingly miscarried our first child. I was curtly told at our first scan, ‘Sorry, there’s no heartbeat.’ I think I cried and grieved for the…