Like every other Indian mom-to-be, Kaveri got a litany of unsolicited advice from Aunties and Aunties-of-Aunties.
I remember when I brought home my first baby and was inundated with advice. Most of it were old wives tales. Most of it seemed to be deliberately designed to undermine my confidence as a new mom. Most of it was useless. Most of it had NO logic. And ALL of it was irritating!
Most ‘aunties’ and a few friends take sadistic pleasure in advising a new mom. They’ll gleefully inform you of all the things that could go drastically wrong if you do so and so. It doesn’t strike them as weird, unscientific, harmful or plain stupid. Some of them take offense if you do not implement their advice immediately and thank them profusely.
Here are some gems I had to hear during my pregnancy and after the baby arrived~
1. During my pregnancy, I was told to eat five white things the first thing in the morning to make sure the baby turns out fair. As for tea, I was asked not to drink any because that would make the baby dark.
2. Don’t look at the face of the servant boy who brought me my bed tea because then the baby would resemble him! Genetics of course plays no role.
3. If I ate green chillies, my baby would drool too much after it was born.
4. I was supposed to read all holy books so that the baby could imbibe the scriptures in my womb.
5. I loved my job but I was asked to quit working with children with multiple disabilities for the fear that my baby would be born handicapped.
6. I ate papayas to my hearts content. No ripe papayas don’t cause abortions. My neighbors waited with bated breath to see if it does after telling me off for eating papayas.
7. “Beta, drink lots of milk. That is the only way to produce enough milk for your baby” Err, excuse me, I’ve never seen a cow drink milk. How does she produce so much!?
8. “What! You are eating rice! And curds! Oh no!! Now the baby will catch a cold! ”
9. “Beta, you must not eat spinach. The baby will make green poo poo”. Howzzat for a “Go Green Movement” !
10. “You must use a red silk handkerchief to dab baby’s mouth with. She will have pink pink lips when she grows up.” (I swear I’m not making this up! )
11. “Put surma in the baby’s eyes. She will have big big eyes when she grows up.”
12. “Arrey, massage the baby with hot mustard oil in which you have burnt some ajwain, methi,garlic and hing, after her bath everyday”. This woman had a baby I used to dread holding because he smelt like an achhar all day and left oil stains on my clothes.
13. My friend was told to use a eyebrow liner to mark the eyebrows so that the baby’s eyebrows would grow accordingly. So she decided to draw wriggly eyebrows on her baby as an experiment. And ended up getting soundly scolded for her effort.
I’m sure you have similar stories to share. So please go ahead and add to the comments so that we can all have a good laugh. And yes, those of you have any advice for a pregnant woman or a lactating mother, please go ahead and add those too!
Kaveri Ahuja is a contributing writer at Bombay Wire. In her words: I’ve never listened to my head, always followed my heart. I am randomness personified. I can change my thoughts in the middle of a thought. I love a good fight. How else would I have kicked the big C’s butt?! I can be followed on Twitter and other blog posts can be read here.