Pregnancy goes commercial (Photo: iStock)

Pregnancy, once considered a deeply personal and transformative experience, has undergone a significant shift due to the rise of social media.

This transformation has pushed pushes the commercialisation of pregnancy, turning it into a highly performative affair.

From elaborate pregnancy announcements to extravagant gender reveal parties, opulent babymoons and lavish baby showers, the once intimate and sacred process has become a spectacle.

One of the key drivers of this transformation is the emergence of a new breed of celebrity: the pregnant influencer.

They leverage their social media presence to share every aspect of their pregnancy journey, from documenting each trimester to showcasing their evolving baby bumps.

By collaborating with brands and posting sponsored content, they turn pregnancy into a profitable venture.

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However, the constant exposure raises important questions about privacy, authenticity and the potential impact on the mental and emotional well-being of expectant parents.

In the past, a pregnancy announcement was a heartfelt moment shared with close family and friends. However, with the advent of social media, the intimate act of announcing a pregnancy has transformed into an elaborate performance.

Expectant parents, including influencers, now employ various creative methods to capture attention and engagement.

Staged photoshoots, carefully crafted videos, and heartfelt captions accompany the pregnancy reveal, aiming to garner likes, comments, and shares.

This shift has taken pregnancy announcements from intimate moments shared with loved ones to highly orchestrated events aimed at captivating online audiences.

THE GENDER REVEAL

Another trend that has gained popularity on social media is the gender reveal party. What was once a private moment between expectant parents has now turned into grand events with viral potential.

Social media platforms have fueled the obsession with gender reveals, leading to elaborate setups involving colourful powder explosions or confetti-filled surprises.

Influencers and socialites like Vera Sidika and Amber Ray have embraced this phenomenon with lavish celebrations that captivate their followers.

Vera’s extravagant gender reveal party at Windsor Golf Club, featuring a helicopter announcement, left Kenyans in awe. Amber Ray went as far as erecting a billboard along Waiyaki Way to announce her forthcoming occasion.

These elaborate displays not only signify the commercialisation of pregnancy, but also ignite discussions and comparisons among fans and followers.

And baby showers that were once a small gathering to celebrate the impending arrival of a baby has evolved into a lavish event with extravagant themes, elaborate decorations and expensive gifts.

Influencers and celebrities often share images and videos of their opulent baby showers, setting unrealistic expectations.

The pressure to create an Instagram-worthy event has led to a surge in spending and an emphasis on materialism, overshadowing the true essence of the occasion.

A few years ago, a woman’s post on social media ignited a heated debate when she revealed that an acquaintance had demanded a whopping sum of Sh150,000 for her baby shower.

The comments that followed were filled with disbelief and laughter. One comment sarcastically remarked, “150k per head as a contribution for a baby shower. Am I the one that impregnated her? That’s a flight from Ghana to Lagos and one night at Villa Rosa Kempinski.”

Others shared their own experiences of attending baby showers that came with similar demands and requests for money.

One person shared a story of a colleague who had three baby showers within five years, each accompanied by a list of desired gifts, and attendees were expected to contribute Sh20,000 each time.

LOSING FOCUS?

Robert Muoki, a father of three, candidly admitted his disdain for baby showers. He shared a personal experience where his wife’s friends organised a baby shower that nearly cost Sh500,000—a sum he couldn’t afford.

When he raised his concerns, his wife accused him of not being supportive. They reached a compromise, but he remains skeptical about the necessity of baby showers.

Muoki believes the focus should be on the well-being of the mother and child, rather than the extravagant expenses associated with the event.

Adding to the growing list of extravagant pregnancy rituals, babymoons have emerged as a popular trend on social media.

Expectant parents go on luxurious vacations before the arrival of their baby. These trips serve as a means to relax, bond, and celebrate the impending arrival.

However, they have also become opportunities for influencers to showcase their glamorous lifestyles and sponsored partnerships.

In a significant departure from the past, the birth process itself has become a public affair. Some influencers live-stream their labour, documenting every moment from contractions to the first cry.

Influencers like Amber Ray and Vera Sidika have taken the bold step of sharing intimate moments of labour and delivery with their online audiences.

Amber Ray documented her journey through Instagram stories, providing her fans with glimpses of her labour experience. Vera Sidika, on the other hand, shared her birth process on YouTube, showcasing the luxury hospital where she delivered via caesarean section.

GROWING INDUSTRY

While intended to normalise the birthing experience and provide support to others, this level of public exposure raises ethical questions about consent, privacy and the potential risks associated with sharing such intimate moments online.

The influence of social media on pregnancy has created a thriving industry, catering to the desires of expectant parents who want to document and celebrate their journey in style.

Gender reveal event planners, professional photographers, luxury travel agencies for babymoons, event organisers for extravagant baby showers, and even brands capitalising on pregnancy-related products have all emerged as part of this burgeoning market.

These businesses not only provide services but also leverage social media to showcase their offerings, attracting clients who aspire to recreate the picture-perfect experiences they see online.

As influencers and socialites set increasingly extravagant benchmarks with their publicised pregnancy experiences, the pressure to meet these standards intensifies for others.

The quest to replicate the grandeur of social media-inspired pregnancy rituals often comes with a significant price tag.

The costs associated with gender reveal parties, including event venues, customised decorations, professional photography, and extravagant announcements, can add up quickly.

Extravagant baby showers, featuring themed decorations, gourmet catering, and lavish gifts, contribute further to the financial burden.

The relentless exposure to glamorous pregnancy experiences on social media can generate unrealistic expectations and exacerbate feelings of inadequacy for expectant parents.

The constant comparison to influencers’ seemingly flawless journeys can lead to self-doubt and anxiety.

EMOTIONAL IMPACT

The financial strain of trying to live up to these ideals can also have a profound emotional impact, causing stress, guilt, and feelings of failure for those who are unable to afford or recreate the same level of extravagance.

Amidst the pressure and financial burden, it is essential to remember the true essence of pregnancy and prioritise emotional well-being.

Expectant parents should strive for authenticity rather than succumbing to the pressures of social media. Celebrating the journey in a way that aligns with personal values and financial circumstances can foster a more meaningful and fulfilling experience. Recognising that social media portrays an idealized version of reality can help individuals navigate the temptation to compare themselves to curated online representations.

As we navigate this new landscape of pregnancy in the age of social media, it is crucial to strike a balance between sharing and preserving the sacred nature of this profound and transformative journey.

It is a time to celebrate and cherish the miracle of life while prioritizing the well-being of both the expectant parents and their unborn child.