For as far back as one could remember, pregnancies were kept strictly under wraps. While it was expected for a woman to get on the family way as soon as she married, ironically it was a taboo to speak of it, let alone make a show of it.
(Read: "Unplanned pregnancy: Time to speak up")
Despite modernisation, a significant section of society still considers it shameful and/or even ill-fated to reveal their pregnancy for the fear of jinxing the birth “What if the baby is stillborn,” points out 54-year-old Mrs Feroz, “Pre-empting pregnancy celebrations are risky. That is why we have aqeeqas instead, as a post-birth celebration.”
Anila Weldon of the pioneering mom support group WeldonMoms shares her thoughts. “The concept goudh bharaee has always existed in our culture as well as in Latin and Hebrew cultures. It’s just now that people are converting this concept into a more ‘cooler’ version of the same as baby showers.”
Weldon began her support network when she herself became a mother five years ago. “I was a total career woman, notorious for having a board outside my office that said ‘kids and dogs not allowed’,” she admitted.
In the last five years, WeldonMoms has developed a reputation for holding grand and fun events from annual chocolate festivals and costume carnivals to celebrating Mother’s and Father’s Day. A few days ago, the group organised an intimate baby shower for expecting mothers at Butler’s Cafe, where frothy chocolate concoctions were served with platters of delicious food to pamper the moms to be.
“I love the food that Anila gets in her events,” chuckled Urouge Raza, a young mom and a photographer, who specilaises in child portraits. “Young moms are under so much stress, so this kind of support is great,” spoke Nayyera Lari, a mother of two. From the looks of this small baby shower, the meticulous attention that Weldon pays to her fellow moms — the ribboned water bottles, gift vouchers and lavish spread of foods and drinks — is evident.
“It gives us a platform to meet new moms,” says Nida Amir, a ‘veteran’ WeldonMom, “And we learn tips for colicy babies, teething, in-law issues and the general awareness about a child’s well-being.”
The support group provides all that was once the primary role of the matriarch in extended families. It is being argued that WeldonMoms is an extension of the same kind of support and advice. “I often hear this criticism,” says Weldon candidly, “that why should people come to us given that this is such a private affair. With the breakdown of the extended family giving way to nuclear families, women no longer have that support that they used to have.”
Also working women these days are becoming more independent in thought, many may not be receptive to the age-old advice that their matrons may offer. “The nuclear family as a social reality is what is contributing heavily to our group getting larger,” says Weldon.
A testimony to this fact could be seen at the baby shower where women’s infectious laughter and reminisces of their children’s play dates and plans for the next kids outing, showed what a critical role the support group had become in the lives of these young women. “It’s just so much fun for both us and the kids,” added Urouge Raza, a newbie to the group.
Although there was a time when husbands would ridicule the whole concept, services such as marriage counselling have helped WeldonMoms become more acceptable.
“The most satisfying element of this job for me is when I see these women, who were once strangers, become friends, setting up play dates, offering to babysit for each other while they go for something as trivial as threading. I know then that what we have created is a relationship for life,” beams Weldon.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2011.
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What an eloquent article! . I have noticed these changes myself. Many years back, the sight of a pregnant lady in public, or even among family friends and distant relatives, was considered almost "obscene". The prevailing idea was that a mom-to-be must stay locked away from the sight of those outside the family, to whom the belly bump is reminiscent of the most vile, shameful, ghastly, pull-your-hair-and-scream-your-lungs-out act in the world: sex (Argh! Now I may need to disinfect my keyboard). . Anyway, I'm glad things are turning for the better..