'Black Panther' Filmmaker Advocates for Working Moms-to-Be: 'Pregnancy Isn't a Disability'

“There’s a common misconception that pregnant women can’t go about their normal lives.”
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profile picture of Ashley Edwards Walker
Contributing Writer
August 13, 2018
film maker Rachel Morrison defends working pregnant women
Image: Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images

When it comes to working while pregnant, everyone is different. Some women feel so sick and exhausted during their first trimester, it’s all they can do just to make it into the office. For others, it’s not until their third trimester that they start to consider working from home. And then there are people like cinematographer Rachel Morrison who work all the way up until they give birth. And that’s okay, despite what many people think.

Morrison—known for her work on Black Panther and Mudbound, the latter for which she became the first woman to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography—recently took to Instagram to dispel the myth that pregnant women can’t or shouldn’t work.

“There’s a common misconception that likens pregnancy to some kind of disability—the idea that women who are pregnant shouldn’t be active and can’t go about their normal lives,” Morrison starts her post, which is accompanied by a photo of her balancing a camera over her shoulder while her baby bump is clearly visible. “While no two pregnancies are the same, I just want to say that for many to most women, this isn’t the case at all.”

As for Morrison, she just finished filming a movie (Against All Enemies) at 8+ months pregnant and intends to “keep shooting for as long as anyone will hire me,” she says, before her baby arrives.

“The point is I am NOT a superhero,” she continues. “I am just going about my life doing the thing that I love for as long as I can because the more I work before baby the longer I can take off after. Which should also be MY choice and no one else’s.”

Because people assumptions about a woman’s readiness extends beyond pregnancy to the postpartum period as well. As Morrison argues, it should be up to each individual woman (along with her doctor) to decide when she’s ready to work. After the birth of her first child, she felt physically ready to return to work a week after she delivered. But most people were too “nervous” to hire her right after she’d had a baby, so she ended up losing out on a lot of jobs. For Morrison, their hesitancy wasn’t just frustrating, it felt unfair.

“Pregnancy and motherhood in general is not a disadvantage and the craft doesn’t suffer as a result,” she says. “If anything, the added experience and enhanced empathy has made me a better cinematographer and filmmaker.”

Her post—which has received nearly 29,000 likes and plenty of supportive comments—clearly resonated with many.

“Coming from a woman who held a conference call during labor…I agree!” one person commented. “Not every pregnancy is the same. I couldn’t run a marathon but my body and mind were still strong AF.”

“I am an ICU nurse, I was 8 and a half months pregnant when I stop working at the bedside, doing patient care and on flu season,” confessed another. “Crazy days, but being pregnant and working I felt I was on my best.”

“Thanks @rmorrison, I needed this,” said another. “New, first-time mom of my beautiful 2-month-old baby boy. Had to go back to work last week.”

Here’s hoping Morrison’s post inspires more employers to trust women to know what’s best for themselves and their careers.

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