3 things you should (NOT) do when pregnant

When I became pregnant, I already knew what to expect in terms of the aunty brigade – “about time betey!” “when I was pregnant..” and “Beta listen to me…” and “Suno iss tarah karo”. But I never realised the intensity. Suddenly I was welcomed with arms wide open and shoved into heaving bosoms – I was fertile! I was blessed! I was one of them and not one of ‘them’ I.e women who did not have children (for whatever reason, but reasoning never resonated with desi aunties).

At one stage I found myself lying on my bed, surrounded by a bunch of women all sharing stories of their pregnancies (like I REALLY cared!) and my nausea was caused more by their gory labour details than the child inside my tummy. But what fascinated me were the desi totkas and old wives tales. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of desi totkas. And an old wives tale can be quite comforting when you’re stuck in the middle of a desert with no doctor to be seen for miles. But when both begin to mix with the intricacies of biology (note: biology in Pakistani terms consists solely of the act of baby making) then there is a limit to my belief and this is why:


# 3 – Eat ‘white’ things. Baby will be white.

Oh, this postcolonial predicament. The white man may have left our land but the legacy of his white skin obsesses us to this day. My husband and I are both ‘coloured’, and we like our respective colours – dark chocolate and milk chocolate best describes us for those who want to know. But it seems that others don’t quite like us… in terms of skin colour. For all talk of tanning and how Beyonce and Rihanna are beauties, upon hearing that I was to grace this world with my child almost every woman out there told me “Hai I hope the baby goes on your mother …” (the “complexion-wise” would be added under their breath). My mother can be classified as white chocolate.

Your mothers obviously didn’t love you enough to make the effort.

SO. Next thing I knew, my diet consisted of milk without any drinking chocolate in it because apparently Ovaltine and Milo could potentially colour the baby *heaven forbid* brown. Toast was toasted only in name because brown toast could potentially give the baby *ye gads!* a wheat complexion. Biryani became a meal consisting of solely white rice because the saalan in it was known to colour babies *O-EM-GEE* ‘black’ (in this context black meaning dark brown). Pepsi was not allowed, but 7up was.

Thank goodness, then, for orange juice.


# 2 – Look at beautiful people. Baby will be beautiful.

Obviously genes have got nothing to do with how we look. Since I was based in England at the time, there were sighs of relief for since I’d be surrounded by goras (multicultural England does not exist- in Pakistan, England is every desi’s utopia, filled with blue eyed, blonde haired angels). After all that’s was the sole reason why all the people in Pakistan did not have white skin and coloured eyes. And so it was a given – being surrounded by beautifully white people with coloured eyes I’d give birth to a cherub. Of course the fact that both parents are ethnically south asian, complete with coloured skin, black hair and brown eyes was ignored. The same went for the grandparents (although the paternal grandfather does have grey eyes…).

Though if a South Asian couple gave birth to a kid like that… certain fidelities may come into question.

And so every morning I’d walk down to my local park, sometimes accompanied by friends, trying to surround myself with “beautiful people”. But upon learning that I was residing in a Jewish area, I was immediately told to shut myself at home for fear that baby will look like a *horror of horrors* jew. Shylock sure left a bad impression didn’t he?


# 1 – Don’t touch metal during an eclipse.

Okay, I believe in the power of the stars in terms of the effect they can have on you spiritually (I am a heathen, I know). Lord knows that with every scan I had, a new birth date was given which meant that I’d rush home to Linda Goodman to see what star sign my child would be born under and what I was in for. But when I was told that if in the case there is an eclipse, I should not touch metal. O-kay then. At the time I believed it. It’s not that I’m an illogical person – when you’re weighed down by another little body inside of you and your back hurts and your feet hurt and you’re sick of feeling like a beached whale.. Trust me. At that point in life you will believe anything that is told to you. But during one rational moment it hit me. “don’t touch metal.” Metal meant door handles, keys, cutlery, taps… how the hell is one supposed to go the bathroom then? What am I supposed to put on those big yellow plastic gloves and then go? Somehow the use of rubber went out before I became pregnant and I doubt its use now!

And how is one meant to eat – okay relax, I am most comfortable eating with my hands but try doing that in a restaurant and I assure you the “She’s pregnant” excuse isn’t going to stop the stares. All I can say is thankfully no eclipse took place during my nine month otherwise chances were my child would have been born with a blood mark on his face. Supposedly.

All in all, my advice to would-be mums is to eat what you want, give in to those cravings and for the love of god! It is perfectly fine to eat fish. I assure you your baby will NOT “smell like a machlee.”

Though he might wind up looking like one.



Categories: Sports & Fitness

Author:Mehr F Husain

Mehr F Husain was Features Editor of The Friday Times. She lives out of a suitcase.


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