Old wives tales…

I’m not sure if I’ve touched on any of the crazy things that my mum’s previously told me. But they never get old! They certainly get tiring. As much as they are funny (in hindsight!), they are so over-the-top frustrating that when I hear them, anger starts to boil inside of me and I really have to concentrate as not to let myself explode in a raging tirade. Phew!

How did this come about? I just stumbled across this: 14 Fantastic Pregnancy Myths From Around The World.

Outrageous statements that I’ve had to personally endure:

Instructions whilst pregnant:

  • Don’t eat watermelon (can’t remember why)
  • Don’t eat or drink anything cold (bad for you and the baby)
  • Just eat two boiled eggs a day, it’s better than those folate tablets (seriously???? WTF????)
  • Don’t have soy sauce (it’ll make your baby’s skin dark)

Instructions post-labour:

  • Don’t wash your hair for 10 days (think it stemmed from the days when bathing water wasn’t always hygienic and was actually potentially harmful to the mother)
  • Don’t leave the house for one month
  • Don’t do any housework, or anything really, for one month (as lovely as this would be, it’s not practical!)

Instructions for getting pregnant (these comments have more so been made to me when discussing the fertility of other family members – which, yes, is another frustrating-as-hell activity):

  • Context: my mother explaining to me how M got pregnant:
    • Don’t drink cold water. You know, M used to drink a glass of chilled water every morning. But then my friend told me that that’s really bad for your body and makes you infertile. So I told M. So she stopped drinking it straight away and fell pregnant within a month.
  • Context: my mother questioning me about whether G was pregnant yet – at this point G had been trying for 6 months and unbeknownst to us, when this conversation happened, she was actually in early pregnancy…
    • Well, does G drink a cold water? Because…
    • Mum! That’s not true! If it was true, it’d be a public health announcement and doctors and official health bodies would tell people!!! Besides, I drank cold water all along and have never stopped!
    • Well,  it’s different for us because we can get pregnant very quickly **omg, ripping my hair out**… besides, those “gwai lo” doctors don’t know these things. Then why is it taking her so long?
    • Mum! Doctors tell you to try for one year before seeking additional advice, because statistically that’s how long it can take to get pregnant.
  • Context: my know-it-all uncle giving us a biology lesson after M had miscarried. I seriously wanted to punch him after he said…
    • Yeah, there’s bad blood in her family, that’s why she miscarried, and why it’s taken so long for her sister-in-law to have a baby. (So, so wrong on so many levels.)

Instructions for caring for your newborn and in the first year:

  • You need to put a weight over the baby’s body to keep them calm when they sleep. (Um, SIDs anyone?)
  • You need to give him barley water because he is too “yeet hei“. (In reference to the whitenesss that newborns often have on their tongues.)
  • They can’t eat rice because their digestive systems aren’t developed yet. You have to give them congee.
  • You’ve got add salt – otherwise the food will be bland.
  • You have to cut the crusts of the bread, they can’t digest it.
  • You have to give him a dummy, it’s not good for him to cry. (I’d just like to clarify, I never left my child to cry uncontrollably – this was in the context of me sitting next right beside him and trying to get him to settle.)
  • Oh, you’ve got to get his fingers out of his mouth, they’re dirty! (When my son was a young baby he actually learnt to self settle once he found his own fingers – seriously, what crazy new mother is not going to let her baby self settle in case of dirty baby fingers. Dirty from what? Being swaddled up in a muslim wrap?)

There’s more. Of course there’s more. But we don’t have all day!

If you haven’t picked up, I am of Chinese heritage, living in the Western world. So along with crazy old wives tales, I also have to deal with outrageous Chinese bluntness (and ill-informed advice). Sigh.

What crazy stories, unhelpful advice, or downright insensitive things has your mother told you?!

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