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Pregnancy, for a lot of people is like a unique experience, shrouded in mystery. There are so many myths surrounding it; at the end of it all, you just cannot figure out what is a myth and what isn’t. The trick about all those myths is that (whoever invented them is really clever) they all play on the most important emotion of a new/to-be mother – which is fear!
Tell a pregnant lady to consume two apples facing west, wearing black clothes, else her baby will be born blind, chances are - she will do it even if she does not believe you. Such is the power of fear!
My case was no different. Since the time I announced that I was expecting, relatives and well-wishers bombarded me with so-called friendly advice and tips – most of which turned out to be myths that had no scientific backing. Everyone seemed to have their own pregnancy myth.
The very first myth that was told to me was that I am not to show my bump to people at work. Initially while this was ok, after I crossed the second trimester, this became really difficult. After a point in time, I gave up and actually started enjoying flaunting my bump.
The next few months passed in a blur and before I knew it, I was a mom to a bonny little baby boy. The next myth I encountered was that you need only a “maalish waali bai” to massage your baby. If you do it yourself, you may do it incorrectly and result in abnormal growth of your baby. This scared me and initially due to family pressure, I agreed. But after a couple of days of watching her rub my baby till his skin turned red and using scalding water to bathe him, without paying any heed to my protests – I decided it was enough. I went to my saviour – Google. I read up on how massages actually increase bonding between mom and baby, and decided to take it up. My husband was supportive enough and after a couple of nervous tries, slowly but surely I started gaining confidence and today, even after an year this ritual is something both my son and I look forward to, in the morning.
On a slightly different note, who doesn’t love a good massage? We do and so do our babies. Massage is one of the best ways to bond with the baby. A baby loves his mother’s gentle touch. Watch this video to know how to massage a baby.
There were multiple other myths which I had to encounter. Putting kajal in my son’s eyes (which the doctor said was a big no-no while the elders believed it would make his eyes bigger) was a fight easily won as my husband put his foot down and said, ‘No Kajal!’ Having his ears pierced was another issue. Both hubby and I were clear that we didn’t want to pierce his ears and so we adhered to it despite what others said.
Of course that does not mean we completely forgot the “Ghar Ka Nuska”. My son was a colic-y baby so doctor had given both exercises as well as prescribed medicines. But nothing seemed to work. Then my grandmother suggested that we tie ajwain in a handkerchief, heat it on a tawa and place it on his stomach. My gut told me to go ahead with it and I did. The relief he got was instantaneous.
Another time, my baby had a skin rash. I used to give him a bath with besan(gram flour) at the insistence of elders. The doctor asked me to stop all sorts of atta/flour completely and start baby soap/wash. I was not too keen on doing that as well. My grandmother suggested we use moong dal atta instead and again after a little research online, I opted for it. The rash vanished, skin was soft and supple and I didn’t have to use soap.
The point here is that there is no solution that you should leave unexplored when it comes to your baby. Over the past two years, I have learnt to trust my gut. The “maternal instinct” that we read about so widely actually exists and it has never failed to guide me.
Another thing I have learnt is to never let people dictate what is best for you and your baby. They may not be necessarily wrong and may have your best interests at heart but if you are looking at elders - their time was different and they have been used to a typical way of parenting which may or may not suit your baby. If it is well wishers who have had a baby, remember each baby is different and what might work for one may not work for another.
Personally I would trust my doctor more than anyone else. I would also recommend that at least initially let’s not deviate from the doctor's instructions as if God forbid something goes wrong, we have to go to the same doctor for treatment. As your baby grows, you will soon learn what suits him best and learn to do what is right for him.