Renowned poet Lebo Mashile has taken on a new role to speak out against injustices against pregnant women in the workplace.
Through tears, swollen ankles, exhaustion and nausea, she held her head high as she took on world stages until only seven days before delivering her second baby.
She says as much as she struggled through hiding her pregnancy, she also felt beautiful and regal as her belly grew.
"We need to normalise pregnancy, not with pink and blue ribbons, but with realistic pictures of what pregnancy and motherhood look like. We need to stop idealising pregnancy and relying on marketers' ideas of what it should be, and start addressing the issues that mothers face. Survival, job security, loss of income, healthcare, and access to safe amenities for mothers in public spaces are real issues."
"We also need to push media, the arts and entertainment to start making pregnant moms visible. Book pregnant artists. Put pregnant women on screen and on stage. Make childcare available and accessible in work spaces."
Mashile, who wears many other hats, including that of author and actress, says while she announced her first pregnancy eight years ago with much delight, her gigs soon dried up fast.
"Firstly, there were debates on the internet and on TV about who my child's father was. Secondly, as soon as I made the announcement, I noticed a sharp decline in work. There were consistent clients who continued to book me no matter what, and I will forever be grateful to them..."
She hid her second pregnancy because she felt she had no choice. She says this is because while society puts motherhood on a pedestal, they turn around an make it impossible for mothers to survive.
"Why don't we see pregnant actresses, performers, speakers, newsreaders, businesswomen, and politicians, performing their public and professional duties while pregnant, because that is reality? There is nothing shameful about pregnancy, but we live in a violent, misogynistic society that uses every opportunity to shame women."