Pakistan has a weirdly bi-polar method of approaching childcare and motherhood. They will create hours and hours long movies celebrating weddings and encourage women to approach motherhood like its their sole purpose in life, but will turn the other cheek when it comes to talking about depicting pregnancies on screen, or even talking about the extremely delicate journey towards giving birth to a child. Our desi families will shun working women to proudly boast that becoming a mother is a more purposeful journey, but refuse to spread awareness about the trials and challenges of pregnancies because “wo sharaam denay wali baat hoti hai”, and immediately censor topics related to post partum depression or illnesses new mothers can suffer from.
Beauty influencer Shaina Gull wants the conversation around pregnancy to change by calling out gynecologists who refuse to keep the mother’s mental health and recovery a priority while she’s undergoing pregnancy, and often do not provide proper medication or family planning methods to conservative families to ensure that women can have babies safetly.
The influencer made three Instagram posts dedicated to the concerns she had regarding a safe pregnancy which she had shared with her gynecologist whom, she said she was extremely disappointed with because of her horrible sexist attitude and complete disregard towards pregnant women. In her first post, she shared that she had requested her doctor to allow her husband in the labor room with her when she would be giving birth to her child, in order to receive moral and emotional support during a difficult process. However, her doctor refused and began responding with sexist beliefs that pregnant women are acting spoiled if they want their husbands around all the time:
““why do you want your husband in the delivery room even? Humne, hamari maon, nani dadiyon ne bhi bachay paida kiye thy unky husband unky saron pe nahi thy phr bhi toh bachay hogye thy na? Or wese bhi ye cheez West ka influence hai. Wahan pe koi family dynamics nahi unky, is liye husbands ko present hona parta hai takay at least koi toh aurat k sath hou us puray process k doraan. Yahan pe toh sb hotay hain puray puray khandaan. Toh iski kya zarurat hai?
Yet again I insisted on the same thing and she straight away said NO. I can’t allow because apparently there were 2 hubbies who fainted looking at the amount of blood and we were distracted so it’s no more an option left to avail…”
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On the next matter concerning skin to skin contact, Shaina shared that she had asked her about wanting to do this in order to develop a close bond with her baby. But her doctor had refused and accused her of following “West ki practices” because family dynamics were weak over there:
“If I let that go, and talked about skin-to-skin with the baby. She had some serious orthodox things to highlight.
She went like,
IT IS WEST MAKING YOU DO THAT. Hamari aaj kal ki bachian bus videos dekh kr ye sb seekh leti hain. Even if you leave your child now and come back after 10 years, it’ll remain your child. The connection won’t ever change. Skin-to-skin is something I never will approve of neither scientifically nor any other way. It is over there in the West because their family dynamics are weak. And they think doing this builds a connection and a bond between mother and child. And this is not what we do here. You’re still going to be the mother of your baby even if skin-to-skin is not entertained! But if a mother still insists, toh hum de dete hain hamai kya lgy. Mtlb k the facts remain facts but I didn’t need this. It was TMI for the minor request I had put forward. Infact, if she’d said the last line in the very beginning, toh it would’ve made my life easier.”
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Lastly, Shaina revealed that she had also consulted the doctor about pain-reducing injections that help women undergo the process of birthing a child much more easily. However, she shared that her doctor went on a rant by shaming women who take epidurals by calling them “weak” for wanting medication during childbirth.
“She asked me if I took the epidural. And I had no idea that she was about to go condescending on this entire thing.
‘Tumne toh Epidural wala bacha paida kiya hai, is liye toh post delivery Itni takleef hui tume, agr epidural k begheir kiya hota toh ye chotay motay cuts tumhe kuch na kehty. Or humne bhi bachay paida kiye thy, bina epidural k, bina support k, lg pata jata tha. Post delivery phr baki dardain kuch nahi kehtin thein. Ap lrkiyon ko maa bhi banna hai or phr koi dard b nahi leni.”
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As Shaina Gull rightfully pointed out, no woman is less of a mother if she is looking for ways to make her birthing process a bit easier. And by shaming women for asking their husband’s emotional and physical presence with them during pregnancy and also during the birthing process is a stark display of how women hating our medical practices have become, that we keep demanding women to have children and yet we refuse to encourage them to take care of their physical and mental health as well. Hopefully, thanks to Shaina’s bravery to expose such malicious practices, we can start a conversation about fixing the horrendous ways we refuse to discuss the horrible realities of pregnancy, and how much it is important that we make sure that women are aware of what they undergo during motherhood and are given the safe space and the help they need to overcome it.