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Daddy, Can You Carry a Baby for 4.5 Months? Answering the Innocent Question That Challenges Gender Norms

gender norms

Men should get pregnant and carry babies for 4.5 months! Why should women do all the work of carrying babies for 9 whole months? This was little me at 9 years asking my mother these questions challenging gender norms.

 I wanted to know why only women have babies?

Why not Men too?

Or better still Why not share the “work”?

Of course, my mother laughed it off & said “That’s just the way it is. Women have babies”.

My next question – But, why is it that women have babies, look after them, cook, take care of the house & work outside too?

Can’t men cook & look after babies or the house?

40 + years later, the questions remain the same.

 Challenging Gender Norms

  • 20 million women have dropped out of the workforce in the last 5 years alone.
  •  Studies show that women spend 4 hours and 25 minutes a day doing unpaid care work as opposed to men who only spend 1 hour and 23 minutes.
  •  A total of 184 countries provide an average leave of 98 days for new moms, while paternity leave is provided in 105 economies for a median of only 5 days.
  •  69% of female employees claim society pressures them to put their careers aside for the sake of their family making it impossible to maintain a work-life balance.  
  •  The research findings, published by the Universities of Bristol and Essex for the Government Equalities Office (GEO), found that just 28 per cent of women were in full-time or self-employed work three years after childbirth, compared to 90 per cent of new fathers.
  •  A quarter (26 per cent) of men had been promoted or moved to a better job in the first five years following parenthood, that figure dropped to 13 per cent for women.

What is the solution?

 No, I am not advocating remaining single or not choosing to be a mother. That is an individual choice that each of us makes. But, there are some solutions which have worked for me & 100’s other women which I am sharing here.

  • Planning your pregnancy
  • Discussing the timelines & financials with your partner before taking the plunge
  • Keeping a “child care fund” aside to meet expenses on paid help
  • Articulating & agreeing upon the role of your partner & family members (Parents/in-laws, siblings)
  • Communicating to all stakeholders that your career is not an option, but an integral part of your Life
  • Becoming so good at what you do that your retention & advancement at work become non negotiable
  • Prioritising your career & making intelligent choices so that your earnings contribute significantly to the family
  • Dealing with the SIP syndrome (superwoman/imposter/primary caregiver) by being more compassionate & accepting of yourself.
  • Sharing childcare & housework with your partner.
  •  Draw on your “buddy” network of new & experienced Moms for support & guidance in navigating this phase
  •  Negotiating flexible work timings or WFH with your organisation
  •  Prioritising your health & fitness so that you have the energy to work till it is possible pre-pregnancy
  • Overcoming “Mom guilt” & societal expectations by believing in your choices & Abilities

 What can be done?

We Can’t Do it ALL…..

And, we certainly can’t do it alone.

 But what we can do is –

 Work on ourselves & our limiting beliefs

Work on leveraging our eco-system for support

Believe in our “deservability” & negotiate for the value we deserve

Own & Claim our Power


Find an equal place under the Sun.


Do you believe You deserve it ALL?


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