Pregnancy is one of the most exciting phases of a woman’s life. In India, the arrival of a baby is nothing short of a grand celebration with prolonged preparations, age old traditions and an avalanche of opinions on how the baby needs to be taken care of. The new mother, already grappling with hormonal changes, physical transformations and sleepless nights, gets tossed between traditions and the science behind childhood practices. Though she wants the best of everything for her little one, how does she make an empowered choice with mothers, mother in laws, aunts and caretakers tropping in with their share of dos and don’ts.
Talk to your Obstetrician & Pediatrician:
It is best that you have a connection with your Obstetrician & Pediatrician with whom you can discuss your concerns. They will be able to guide you best and rate the traditions on the myth-o-metre. They shall also be able to educate the reasons behind the myths and the traditions. For example feeding the new mum methi ladoos- a tradition popular in central, north and western India – is a welcome practice because fenugreek seeds are scientifically approved galactagogues (drugs or food that improve lactation).
Common Questions of women battling traditions and science:
I just had my godh bharai and have been told not to remove the bangles till the baby is born. But I find it embarrassing and cumbersome to wear so many bangles to work. Help?
Wearing bangles when pregnant as insisted due to two reasons – the tinkling of the bangles was considered a good way to introduce the fetus to auditory experiences and secondly the sound of the bangles drove away scorpions or snakes lurking in the toilets or empty courtyards. Scientifically bangles can double up as a warning sign for Pregnancy Induced Hypertension (PIH). This can cause detachment of the placenta, seizures , affect the growth of the fetus. Swelling of the limbs due to high BP is the early sign. If the bangles start feeling tighter and start cutting the skin, women should get alarmed. This is seen in the second half of the third trimester. Doctors should be consulted immediately if you feel the same. So wearing the trinkets is a win -win for tradition and science both.
Is it true that adding Kesar (saffron flower) to your drinks will ensure that you get a fair looking baby?
No amount of saffron flower or almond milk will change the complexion of your genetically coded fetus. A child can take after his parents, grandparents or the extended family. If there is a varied gene pool in your family circle, your child’s complexion could range from fair to medium to dark.
My newborn has been suffering from persistent cold. My mother suggests that he can feel better if we stick our fingers into the baby’s throat to suck out the phlegm. Can I do that?
Please avoid such crude and unhygienic practices. The mouth is a breeding ground for bacteria. Don’t try and suck out the phlegm. You may transmit some disease to your child. Sticking fingers can also cause extreme discomfort to the baby. Any kind of disease can be transmitted through unsanitized hands.