I’m Chinese. And I have Chinese parents-in-law. VERY Chinese ones. The ones that could simply make up a new grandmother’s tale and it would totally be legit (to them).
I got inspired one day to make a list of the taboos after reading, been told about and was strictly instructed to follow during pregnancy.
I’ve never been restricted in my life, not even by my own mother. That’s why I feel pretty suffocated ever since this pregnancy became their issue.
I’ll try my best to keep the whiny level to a low.
1) 3-month safe period
Some elderly would advise not to announce the pregnancy until the 1st trimester has passed as they fear the baby will be lost during the first 3 months. I myself believe in this more because I’m more worried the pregnancy isn’t stable until after 3 months. So I would rather announce only when I feel safer to do so, avoiding any explanation or disappointments should anything bad happens.
Leland and I kept it a secret only until after the 12th week, even to our families.
2) No cold drinks
This is definitely one of the hardest ‘rule’ to follow since I have always been drinking cold drinks right out of the fridge. I can cut down on gassy drinks, but don’t tell me I cannot even drink cold milk. One of the most absurd thing I heard during my pregnancy was “You cannot drink Yakult when it’s cold.” Then am I to drink it when it’s stale??
Once I accidentally ordered a cold drink and was nagged by my MIL. Even after the ice have melted and the drink no longer as cold, I still felt the dagger stare when I drank it. For someone who completely avoids cold drinks, I’m also expected to do the same.
3) Forbidden food
Everyone I know tells me to avoid raw food like sashimi and oyster. No problem at all. I don’t even eat them in the first place. However, I was also told to avoid salads since they are considered uncooked vegetables. But I still eat them once in a long while. I do have an issue with ramen runny eggs though. I miss them!
This one food I am constantly craving for but I’m strictly warned against it. Crabs! OMG I feasted on crabs at least once every 2 months or so pre-pregnancy, so this was definitely the worst! How could anyone resist our chilli/black pepper/salted egg yolk crabs? I mean, Dr Goh said there are no scientific proof saying we can’t eat them so eat moderately. But of course, the hubby and MIL have the final say.
Fish without scales. That includes stingray and pomfret, just to name some. This is purely pantang as the elders would say the baby would be born with ‘scaly’ skin.
On the contrary, we are encouraged to eat more fish. Those with scales, of course.
Dark-coloured food or food that are highly-pigmented such as oranges, carrots, papaya also made the list. According to the elders, baby’s skin will be orangey or yellowish when born. It also increases the risk of jaundice. However, my gynae said this is not true at all.
4) Drink bird’s nest and eat more gingko nuts
Bird’s nest is for baby to have good skin. I’m having a boy. Is it really important for my boy to have fair skin like snow? Good complexion yes, but I don’t want my boy to look weak and sickly.
Gingko nuts for good memory. But I’m allergic. Heng ah!! I absolutely hate the smell of these nuts.
5) Avoid house renovation/nailing/drilling/moving of house/carrying of heavy items
This was an issue we couldn’t avoid. We got our house in Nov, went for honeymoon in Dec, returned home and started immediately on the renovation without even knowing I was already pregnant. So we couldn’t possibly stop the renovation and put on hold til I gave birth. We needed the house to be ready by CNY.
I just avoided appearing in the house during the renovation and could only do site visits on weekends when the workers weren’t around. Leland did most of the work – from coordinating, moving, carrying. I just waited for the house to be ready for staying.
Even when furniture and appliances came, I had to be away when the workers fixed them up. Pretty restricted even in my own house.
6) No attending funerals/weddings
So far, I skipped 3 funerals of 3 close friends’ family members and I feel extremely bad I couldn’t be there for them at their most difficult time. But this was a pretty strict taboo that even my Mum and Sis insisted that I’d better follow.
However, I still attend weddings since they are happy events. I see no problem with bringing my pregnant belly to a happy event. Double happiness! But I did get the consent of the bride/groom beforehand to find out if they are pantang about this.
7) No horror/tear-jerking shows
Leland forbids me from watching horror movies or anything that might startle me, saying that it might startle our baby as well.
I wasn’t allowed to watch shows that would make me bawl my eyes out too. I stopped myself from watching dog-related videos such as rescue or abuse videos because they trigger my tear ducts most effectively. I didn’t want to make Redbean a crybaby like me. Only once in awhile I let myself let it out. Blame the pregnancy emotions!
8) No sudden/abrupt startling actions
I’ve heard some people say I should not let people scare me from the back, or even tap my shoulders. They say this action will usually cause my baby to ‘drop’.
Once, my colleague did a strong tap on both my shoulders that really freaked me out quite badly. I was shaking so badly from that scare it got me really paranoid. I couldn’t blame her since she didn’t know I was pregnant yet.
9) No sewing/cutting (on bed especially)
No idea why not because I have tons of clothes to alter especially after buying some new ones for the new figure. But Leland strictly disallows this. I can’t even hold a needle. Yet he never offered to sew anything for me. Hmph!
I am frequently cutting things at home since I have to cook. I just become more caution about it.
10) No hair treatments
Because old people say chemicals are harmful and will enter our scalp, be absorbed by baby and will cause harm.
Dr Goh, on the other hand, said it would be best to do it after 14 weeks. Some mummies are pretty strict about this and they leave their hair untouched for the whole pregnancy, even after delivering.
11) No vigorous activities
This was quite a big transition. I did zumba and yogalates on a weekly basis at work during lunch. So when I didn’t sign up for the new round of lessons, I had to give excuses to colleagues who asked. Because of the lack of exercises, I found myself becoming lazy too.
12) Watch my tongue
No vulgarities or scolding/insulting others. I do find myself scolding myself stupid most of the time because of my preggy brains.
13) No rubbing of tummy
Because elders say you are spoiling the kid even before he’s born.
I gotta admit. When your tummy gets this big and out of the way, you rub it not only because it’s amazing how a tummy can grow this way, but also because his kicks can be painful, you just have to rub it to distract yourself. I rub my tummy as and when I like it no matter what they elders say. I’m blessed to be pregnant and I should be glad I am able to grow a life in me. So yes. *rub tummy*
Here’s a sneak shot from my maternity photoshoot!