Pregnancy In A Joint Family System

A joint family system is a desi system where a woman lives with her husband and his family (Susral). Different people have different experiences about their Susrals, however for the most of us, it’s more like a phase of your life you just survive with your survival instinct high, hoping for better days.

Pregnancy is a life changing event in a woman’s life and great news for the couple, too. However, surviving parenting and pregnancy in Susral is also a huge milestone. If you are planning to live in your Susral during your pregnancy period, here are some things you should have in mind that you’ll most probably go through.

The reaction

As they say, “The only result your Susral cares about is your pregnancy result.” You might have missed your period date and might not even have noticed it, but there will be someone in your Susral, weirdly curious about the scene and they might even have their pregnancy strips ready for you! If you’ve been trying to conceive for a while, they’ll be happy while emphasizing on how finally you’re pregnant and if it’s an early pregnancy they’ll make judgmental comments on how you didn’t enjoy your married life first. They might even rush to break the news to your husband before you do.

Random judgmental comments

Be highly prepared to get used to comments like:

  • You are either gaining way too much weight or you’re too skinny.
  • How you look way too pregnant or not pregnant at all.
  • How you don’t look as fresh as their daughter used to look.
  • How your multivitamins have increased your sleep hours and how ‘unkai zamanay me aurtain never used to have such nazakatain.’
  • Last but not least being compared with their generation on how pregnant women of their times used to do all the house chores but aj kal ki larkyan have become so lazy and kamchor that they just don’t do anything.

In short, all kinds or comments and comparisons might be made irrespective of how it might affect your mental peace and ignoring how much dangerous stress might be for a mother-to-be.

Issues on who takes you to the doctor

You would obviously feel more comfortable going with your spouse, but your mother-in-law might have an objection with that. You going with your husband to visit a gynecologist might also be termed as behayaii or besharmi. How women weren’t so blunt and open about such things with their husbands in old times might also be rubbed in your face.

Muft mashwaray (free advices)

Oh, there’s going to be tons of free advice like random aunties asking you not to flaunt the bump and hide it because you are more vulnerable to evil forces and should therefore be more careful. You might also be ordered not to upload pictures of yourself that might reveal your pregnancy. Also, get used to being told random totkay and being forced to eat desi ghee even if it makes you nauseous –   just because…

You might also be told that you can’t go near your husband, to change your bedroom and not sleep next to your husband anymore. Judgmental looks might be passed even if he holds your hand as if that would cause a miscarriage.

Another common piece of advice given to every lady who is expecting is to avoid climbing stairs because it is assumed that this will affect the unborn baby. There is a fair possibility that this misconception is so common because of Star Plus, so in case your bedroom was upstairs, be prepared to have to say goodbye to it because ‘no more stairs for you’.

Gender brigade

The obsession of having a pota (grandson) in mothers-in-law is beyond my understanding. Baby boys are given a warm welcome, on the other hand baby girls are not welcomed with the same enthusiasm, especially if you already have a daughter. So be prepared for random aunties predicting the gender of your baby – by just looking at your “chaal”. Random aunties will also be giving you blessings like “May it be a healthy son,” and you will also be given time-to-time reminders on how they have ordered a son from your factory.  Your Saas might be one of the believers who still think that certain herbal medicines can change the baby’s gender from a girl to a boy. Also, you might even be told certain wazeefay to conceive a baby boy.

Some couples don’t feel comfortable in finding out the baby gender before his birth, however, if you live in a joint family just forget what you are comfortable with and what not because some door-daraz susraali relatives might even be counting your weeks and forcing you to just go, find out and tell everyone the gender already. Even relatives who wouldn’t even gift one thousand rupees on the birth of the child will be eagerly interested in finding out the gender as if they just can’t wait to go baby shopping for your child.

Difficulty in getting a balanced diet

The first and foremost concern of a pregnant lady is getting a healthy diet so that both the mother and child are healthy. However, that might not be so easy in Susral because when you live in a joint family system you have to eat what everyone eats. No prioritization is considered fair. So, most women face a tough time getting a balanced diet. Your doctor will ask you to get salads, but your in-laws will call it “ghaas phuus”. If your husband is bringing fruits or fresh juices for you, he will be called zanmareed, he might be taunted and told not to do so because that would make his wife feel as if she is doing something extraordinary whereas in their eyes it’s nothing new. All women get pregnant! No big deal!

Not to forget if he’s caught taking care of your midnight cravings – Oh Mr. Husband, you are in trouble!

Dealing with myths

When we talk about myths some of these myths are harmless, but it is important to sort out fact from fiction because some of them can be really disturbing. There are some interesting and some rather shocking myths that you’ll learn about during your pregnancy in Susral. For example: How a pregnant woman cannot eat anything hot by nature, it is believed that eating those foods might cause a miscarriage or complications in the pregnancy; however other foods that are cold by nature, are good for you. But, if you ask a nutritionist about it, this myth could be dangerous for the pregnant lady as it disturbs her balanced food intake.

You might also be told not to visit your favorite cousin just because she is barren and it is assumed that if you visit a barren woman during your pregnancy, there is a great risk of miscarriage.

You might be told that exercising will harm your baby. Being fit increases your stamina and makes you ready for giving birth. Women who are not used to doing any exercise are often advised to start doing some during their pregnancy but yes, any exercise should only be started after consulting with the doctor. You can’t dye your hair during pregnancy, you can’t fly during pregnancy… the myths will go on but make sure you do your due diligence before believing anything.

No privacy or freedom

Now that you are pregnant your body will change, your routine and sleep schedule might change. You might suffer from insomnia and so you’d just want to sleep whenever you can, but in Susral will that be okay? Probably not because that would be a problem for your Saas (mother-in-law) or Khala Saas (Husband’s aunt). They’d pass comments like “Ullu waali routine hay – sari raat phone pe busy, din ko soyi rehti hay.” Lack of privacy is also something that disturbs pregnant women more because of their pregnancy hormones as compared to usual non-pregnant days. You might want to wear a comfy t-shirt and just be you, but that might also not be okay again because ‘besharmi’.

Responsibilities as a ‘Bahu’

Even if you are a mother-to-be and are new to the experience, but you will not be allowed to neglect your responsibilities as the Bahu of the house. If guests have arrived, ignore your nausea and just be ready to get dressed, serve the guests, and sit with them for however long they feel like sitting at your place. At least this is what is expected of an expecting Bahu… or else be prepared for the ongoing taanay on how you have no respect for others.

How many points did we get right according to your experience? How was your Susral pregnancy? Let us know in the comments.

Books to help you conceive your baby:

Addendum to this article by Editor Surviving Susral

Here are some top-selling and best-recommended books for you to read and conceive your baby.

  1. Fertile by Emma Cannon has amassed excellent reviews on Amazon. The book shares. She offers excellent recipes and tips that have changed the lives of thousands of women, who after following the recipes and lifestyle changes recommended by Emma have been able to welcome the arrival of their little bundles of joy.
  2. Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Tomi Weschler is a bestseller on Amazon, and as it is full of great advice about fertility, natural birth control, and reproductive health. In this book, Tomi discusses reproductive health issues and mechanisms to help women understand how they can better understand their bodies and reproductive health and related issues including PCOS, future fertility, miscarriages, and factors behind unusual bleeding. 
  3. Yes, You Can Get Pregnant: Natural Ways to Improve Your Fertility Now and into Your 40s by Aimee Raupp is a ray of hope for the women who have been time and again told by others that their chances of conceiving were low. Written by women’s health and fertility expert, Aimee Raupp, this book offers great news for many women who had given up on the idea of getting pregnant.

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Hello! My name is Saba. I am an engineer and a devoted housewife who loves to cook and write. I can write about whatever you need me to. I just love to write, it empowers me.

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