Sonal Kaur Knows Pregnancy is Personal & Political

Sonal Kaur, political tech strategist & recent mother, shares the personal decisions & political reflections that have shaped her pregnancy.






Sonal Kaur Knows Pregnancy is Personal & Political

“I’ve been thinking a lot [about] the transition from maiden to mother, which is metamorphic, not only physically, emotionally and hormonally, but also in relation to my own sense of femininity.” 

Sonal wears the Scoop in Black and the Bikini in Black

Sonal Kaur is a political tech strategist who owned her own consultancy for nearly a decade, where she advised the Obama White House, Planned Parenthood and others to use technology to build progressive movements. With the impending birth of her first baby in 2 weeks, she’s taken a break from that world to embrace what’s about to come. For a woman who has spent nearly two decades advocating for reproductive rights and social justice, Sonal knows better than most that the experience of pregnancy can be just as political as it is deeply personal. 

“Part of my transition into deciding to become a mother [began] when Trump was elected. I had worked for years on a lot of big campaigns and initiatives that felt neverending, particularly with Planned Parenthood because they are constantly under attack by Republicans. Everyone in our community went through a period of reckoning, especially during that first year of Trump’s presidency. For me, it was a really important time to take a step back and recalibrate my imagination for what my life and work could look like long term.” 

“It was also a really stark and intense time, where I had to re-evaluate my own personal theory of change. To think about this new chapter of becoming a mother – and how I’m going to make the most impact within this new venture.” 

 

 

“I’m 36. We decided to get pregnant – and the first time we tried, it worked. Which is amazing. It dispels a lot of myths around the ageism of maternal medicine. Being 36 and pregnant has been a wonderful experience, because I was able to plan my family from a position of power, to be more confident in my decisions.”

“I have hypo-thyroidism which is an auto-immune disease that’s very common among South Asian women. I’ve been told by different doctors that it would be difficult to stay pregnant, but it really wasn’t at all. I was fortunate enough to be pretty relaxed about the process. The one superpower of managing chronic illness, for me, is that you get very in tune with your body. You learn your body really well.” 

“Everything that has to do with my health feels best when I really trust myself and my own body. It’s almost an intuitive experience. I don’t have an OBGYN, I chose to handle my pregnancy through a midwifery group. Where I do need to bring in doctors, I bring in really compassionate people who are supportive of my inclinations and my needs. For me, it was important to be in an atmosphere that felt non-alarmist. Where the least amount of interventions are being used.”  

Sonal wears the Scoop in Black and the Bikini in Black

Sonal will be giving birth at Mount Sinai West, where her midwifery group has a partnership. Natural and home birthing options for women in New York are lacking, but Sonal’s decision to forgo a doctor is less informed by our modern medical options, than it is by her ancestors. 

“I had two great grandmothers, whom I knew, who both gave birth to 9 babies in the village. They did it without Western medicine. One thing that soothes my nerves is thinking about and channeling the wisdom of these two women, who gave birth to my family tree, all these amazing people who I love. When you can step out of the fear and step into the fact that [pregnancy] is this unbelievably sacred, and primal, experience that women have been doing forever – since the beginning of time – you can tap into a matrilineal strength that stretches beyond generations you ever knew.”

For as long as women have been giving birth, they have also understood the power of community. It truly takes a village. Pregnancy can be isolating, with social norms dictating everything from when we should share the news to what a safe birth looks like. For Sonal, building her own community was key to creating an experience guided by her own intuition and informed by her own values. 

Sonal wears the Scoop in Black and the Bikini in Black

“I’m a big believer in having a board of directors on your life, whether in your professional or personal sphere. For my pregnancy, I built my own community – of women who are mothers, women who are new mothers, women who are currently pregnant and women who share my values. This circle has been so incredibly valuable, because we share an ethos. There is such a richness to the diversity of experiences and preferences in each pregnancy.” 

“I’ve never been a very femme-presenting person. I have a very muscley, athletic silhouette. But once the curves started showing up – and maybe it’s the hormones, too – I’ve never felt more feminine. Your body does these incredible things to support this growing life inside of you.” 

“I’ve always been very confident in my body, because I appreciate what my body does. What my body looks like doesn’t really figure into that. I grew up in Pennsylvania in the ‘90s, where a brown girl like me was not the standard of beauty, and my outward appearance was not something that I placed a lot of value on. In that way, I already had it a bit easier. When my body started to change, I embraced it.”

Sonal’s confident self-image is rooted in a deep appreciation for what her body does for her. As an athlete who runs marathons and competes in Iron Man competitions, Sonal’s bodily autonomy is a critical part of her identity and experience in the world. So how have the physical changes of pregnancy affected her? 

“Your body isn’t yours when you’re pregnant, it really isn’t yours. I was nervous that pregnancy was going to feel like a compromise, or burdensome, but it’s been one of the most powerful physical states I have ever embodied. The most powerful physical state. That was surprising, and extraordinarily gratifying. “ 

“The other surprise for me is just how much you have to slow down. A lot of women in our milieu in New York are professional women, we’re entrepreneurs, we’re constantly moving so fast. [During pregnancy,] you just can’t. You get a new lesson in worthiness. As a woman of color, an entrepreneur, someone used to doing everything for myself, [pregnancy] is definitely a shift. The greatest lesson I’ve gotten through this process is worthiness. Saying no, setting boundaries. Allowing people to help me and to care for me. Feeling truly worthy of that care, too.” 

Sonal wears the Plunge in Black

Pregnancy shifts your pace of life, which inherently shifts your understanding of sensuality. Sonal is finding that, as you move through the world differently, you view pleasure differently – and uncover entirely new forms of sensuality.  

“I’m a very sensual person. I appreciate all sensual pleasures. In the beginning of my pregnancy, it was difficult to wrap my mind around what those pleasures could be. Because so many things that brought me joy were things like martinis and hot yoga. These particular sensual pleasures you obviously can’t enjoy when you're pregnant. But the sensuality of pregnancy for me has been slow, sweet. Appreciating my body. Embodying my femininity. I am also really lucky to have a partner who is incredibly feminist and who is abundant with verbal affirmation, touch, and all the things that feel very satisfying and connective.”

Sonal and her partner embody radical feminist and intersectional principles across all aspects of their work and life. The birth of their son presents a responsibility as custodians, but also an opportunity to learn and grow themselves, through a deep connection to a new generation. 

 

 

“When people ask us if we are having a boy or a girl, we say, ‘We’re having a boy -- for now, until he comes into his identity and chooses how he wants to express himself.’ I think we’re going to be the last generation of humans who are concerned with gender, which is a huge relief.”

“It’s going to be a really beautiful process to not just raise our child, but also to learn from him. As we’re seeing right now, politically, it’s young people who are leading the climate strike, they’re leading the movement against guns, they’re the ones who have the most creative imagination on how to win in the most just way possible. I’m excited to learn from him.”

 Interview by Kate Mack. Article by Molly Virostek. Photographed by Stephanie Lavaggi. Styled by Emily Newnam. 

Tags: bodytalk , fertility & motherhood

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