Pakistani women share unsolicited advice when pregnant
The experience of being pregnant in the Pakistani society is one hell of a task. It starts with every aunty conveniently touching your belly like its theirs and ends with what you can and cannot do during your pregnancy.
Questions about your birth plan also become a common practice, despite it being an extremely private thing. They also take the liberty to point out what’s wrong with that plan
We interviewed some pregnant women to understand their perspective about the situation better. Here’s what we found out:
1. Pakistani women who were pregnant have heard a lot of weird things when they struggled like, “nakhray na karo, women have been bearing children for centuries. You are not the first one.”
The idea that women go through a lot of emotions during pregnancy is not well understood in this part of the world. Families expect women to keep their mood swings to themselves and to not express if something makes them uncomfortable or unreasonably sad.
2. Pakistani pregnant ladies have also been lots of unsolicited advice, “desi totkay over actual medicine. Fazool dawaiyaan khaati rehti ho.”
People’s reliance on modern medicine here has a really low ratio here. If someone’s in pain, the common advice that a woman will get is to put up with it and not complain. What they fail to understand is that when a doctor has prescribed medicine, it is because of a reason; not because the woman wants attention or loves to play the victim.
3. When you’re Pakistani and pregnant, people seem to have a phobia about seeing you in public and you hear things like, “ghar betho chup kar ke. You have no business going outside like that.”
Women do not go out of the house “unnecessarily”. They carry out their normal routines, and if that includes going out of the house; there is nothing wrong with that. Forcing a pregnant woman to be locked inside the walls of the house has an impact on their mental health.
4. Of course, every Pakistani pregnant woman has heard this one: “Eat more. You are eating for two, remember?”
Scientifically, there is no such thing as eating for two. A pregnant woman is supposed to eat whenever she feels the need, and the quantity that “she” feels is sufficient.
5. Some Pakistani pregnant women have also been at the end of receiving end of some weird questions like, “Do you want to abort the baby girl? We can help you conceive a boy.”
This has become common practice in hospitals even. Women who are pregnant with baby girls are offered abortion services, so that they can conceive a boy later.
6. “Only one child? Allah ki nehmat ko thukra rahay ho.”
Allah has blessed you with the ability to reproduce, why would you stop at one. These people don’t realize that family planning is a very private matter. One has several reasons to have the number of kids that they decide to have.
7. “You use condoms? Had it been appropriate to use condoms, it would have always existed.”
People, there is something called progress?
8. As a Pakistani pregnant woman if you make a choice about the birthing experience you also hear stuff like, “C-Section is the easier way out, you coward. Be a proper woman.”
C-Section is looked down upon because it is considered cowardly. However, a baby will still be baby despite the normal or c-section delivery. You can decide to go for either.
9. “Don’t put on makeup. You’ll attract attention.”
The least a woman can do is look good for herself. Let her do what makes her happy!
Pregnancy myths are also very common. Instagram blogger, Sumaya Hasan, also shared her experience with pregnancy myths as a Pakistani woman who has been pregnant
PREGNANCY MYTHS AND OLD WIVES’ TALES: ?Drinking tea/coffee can cause a miscarriage: Doctors recommend that you limit caffeine to 200 mg per day which means it’s okay to have a glass of coffee every day. ?Heels should be avoided if you’re pregnant: Unless your doctor tells you not to due to any complications, there’s no reason you can’t. In the last trimester, due to changing center of gravity, weight, discomfort and swollen feet you may not want to wear them but it has nothing to do with miscarriages. ?Climbing the stairs can lead to a miscarriage: Again, unless there’s a complication and doctor tells you not to, no reason for you to stop! ?Gym is a total NO: This is the worst myth honestly. Doctors recommend at least 30 mins of exercise EVERY DAY for pregnant women. A detailed post on workouts to come later. ?Grapefruits and pineapples can lead to a miscarriage: Said whoooo??!!! Both of these fruits are full of amazing vitamins, and pose no threat to the baby! Eat away! ?? ?Mobile phones and microwaves are dangerous to be around: Nope! Totes safe… ?You shouldn’t wear seatbelts in your last trimester: worst advice ever! Better be safe than put not one but two lives in danger! Seatbelts are totally safe and should ALWAYS be worn! ?You should avoid taking ANY medication during pregnancy especially for nausea and heartburn etc.: Ask you doctor to recommend you one, there are plenty of options which are totally safe! ?You shouldn’t lift ANY weights or lift anything while you’re pregnant: Pregnant women carry their little ones who weigh quite a bit all the time… I don’t know where this myth came from. ?Eating for two! ??♀️??♀️??♀️??♀️??♀️ Most women don’t need any extra calories in the first trimester, and only need as little as 500 extra calories in the second trimester which is literally one extra slice of bread with peanut butter and that’s it. More on pregnancy weight gain in another post. If you know of any other myths, post them below! #supersumayah #pregnancy #empoweringwomen #womenshealth #3weekstogo #inshallah #pregnant #empoweryourself
In a study carried out by Dr Sofia Jawed Wessel, a sample of 500 people were under study. She asked these people what was the first word which pops up in their minds when they think of pregnant women and found a very interesting pattern
The word which popped up the most often was “cute”. It is precisely the word which we use to refer to babies, puppies, the elderly or kittens.
What people do not understand during the process of calling these women cute, is that they take away their agency as adults to make reliable decisions. They categorize them with people or animals unable to understand what’s right and what’s not, and hence need constant monitoring and guidance.
However, while she might need your help here and there with a few things, she is still very much capable of understanding what is right and what is not. Of course, these suggestions stem out of concern and personal experience, but it must also be understood that each body is different and experiences pregnancy differently. For this very reason, it is extremely important to consult your doctor before believing anything.
cover image via Getty Images