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Being a new mom is hard enough. Can insensitive people stop annoying women during and after a delicate period of pregnancy?
The seemingly never-ending 9 months of pregnancy is over, the long and demanding labour has been dealt with nerves of steel and iron resolve, and the painful delivery is done and dusted. Now you are finally looking forward to cuddling your newborn and resting your tired body.
You had imagined that you would be allowed to happily bask in the glow of new mommyhood, while everyone oohs and aahs over your bundle of joy. Definitely, there is nothing wrong with this expectation – in fact, it is the least that anyone could do for a new mother who is battling chronic sleeplessness combined with crazy post-partum hormones and a seemingly endless stream of visitors.
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However, there exists a category of people who seem to know exactly what to do or say in order to irritate the new mother!
Breastfeeding is a blessing indeed but in the initial few weeks it surely doesn’t seem so. While one is trying to somehow feed the infant despite latching issues, cracked nipples, blocked milk ducts and what not, there comes the neighbour aunty to stare critically at your breasts and ask suspiciously, “Are you getting enough milk?” Well, I would surely think so, given the rapidly growing pile of wet nappies!
In my case, some women even refused to leave the room despite my hints that I would like to feed my baby in private and even went to the extent of poking and prodding my poor breasts while commenting “Maybe your milk is not nutritious enough. That’s why the baby is lean.”
Granted, we lose a lot of our shyness and shame on the delivery table but still we do have a few remnants of something called personal space you know!
In our fairness obsessed nation, it is a miracle indeed that no one has suggested an expectant mom to include a generous helping of fair & lovely in her diet yet! “Baby is not as fair as you”,“Baby is losing colour. Massage her with so-and-so oil so that she becomes fairer”, “Is Baby as fair as you?”, “Don’t take her out in the sun too much/don’t do that/don’t do this or she will become dark.” Oof!
For the sake of those who did not get the memo, let me state this once and for all: I do not care if my baby is fair or not. She is my baby and she is beautiful. What’s more, I do hope that my child grows up to be someone who gives two hoots about a person’s skin colour.
When it comes to the subject of a new mother, everyone from the domestic help to the random stranger on the road is an instant expert. One is literally bombarded with an avalanche of advice – some of them useful and sensible, the rest totally misinformed and a major part of the advice are about a new mom’s diet.
It goes without saying of course that a new mom needs a nutritious and well-balanced diet. However, the list of dishes that is thrust upon a new mother is simply astonishing. One is practically forced to down a range of weird smelling leghiyams, strange looking concoctions, mysterious curries and tons of garlic, ghee, fenugreek and what not!
These dishes are supposed to purge out any remnant toxins in our bodies and also more importantly increase milk supply. Any protest is frowned upon and questions are nonchalantly dismissed with oft repeated statements such as, “We know better; after all we birthed and brought up kids much before you.”
One of the visitors who came to my home soon after I became a mother, actually asked me, “Why do you still look pregnant?” What a great way to boost a person’s body image! Have people forgotten that a woman does not just pile on the kilos all of a sudden during pregnancy; it is after all a gradual increase over the course of 9 months. How can she be expected to just lose all of that in a few short weeks? Especially when you are busy stuffing her with calorie rich foods?
Or have all those celebrity mommies who somehow miraculously look so prim and polished just a couple of weeks after childbirth placed such unrealistic expectations about the bodies of new mothers?
A few months down the line I did slowly lose all the extra weight and was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. But yet again, there were comments about how much weight I had lost. Never in my life have I been on the chubby side – except during the pregnancy. My metabolism, my physiology, my genes have always been that way. So frankly, it was no surprise that I lost the added kilos. But then again there came a host of comments wondering why I was looking so thin, have I checked my hormone levels, don’t I eat at all…
On one hand, if we don’t lose the extra pounds, we are made to feel guilty about it and are pushed to take steps to lose weight. On the other hand, if we do lose the extra weight, we are labelled as unhealthy!
Gasp! Wait, did I hear that correctly? The next one? As in, the next baby? You’re kidding right? I just about got done with the morning sickness, the leaky bladder, the diet restrictions, the pelvic exams, the back pain, the discomfort, the sleeplessness, the water retention, the goddamn stitches and I am still neck-deep in soiled diapers and leaky boobs – and you have the gumption to actually ask me about the next one?
Scram before I bonk you on the head with my breast pump!
Image Source – Youtube
Anne John plays with words for a living and would probably do the same even
Ha! Ha! My thoughts exactly and I can still recall them… vividly… 11 years post “the baby” !! You have very eloquently and humorously described what every mother has running in head during that “new motherhood” phase!!! The punch line is just brilliantly spot on as well!!! Hee! Hee!
Thanks Sonia! Sigh! Seems some things never change!
LOL! Good to have you back here, Anne!
Thanks Sandhya! It is good to be back 🙂
Lol! Been there, done that! Esp the ‘supply issue’ part – Can’t imagine how people have the nerve to say that! Now I need tips on how to get people off my back with questions on the ‘next one’! Urgghh!
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