As soon as the new bahu starts settling in her new house and getting used to the rituals, rules and relations, the family begins asking her, “toh bahu good news kab dogi?”. Indian women face endless pressures throughout their life. Right from learning cooking, stitching to getting married at the “right” age and bearing children, the demands never stop. Even in today’s progressive age, a woman is expected to get married in her 20s and then plan a baby immediately.
With the economic conditions we live in today and the heavy repercussions of climate change, several couples are deciding to not opt for kids. Along with that, the growing social awareness has seen a rise in adoption rates. All of these, along with several other medical, physical, mental and personal reasons, are the driving forces for couples when it comes to family planning. Yet Indian society will push the bahu, not the beta, to “gift” them with a baby.
Indian’s Obsession With Pregnancies
It can be subtle or direct, but in India, the pressure to become parents is pervasive. And it’s the woman who is asked uncomfortable questions and pushed to divulge personal information in order to satiate the constant goading of family and friends.
Those who cannot or have chosen not to become parents are made to feel like failures. These couples are even accused of being selfish and self-indulgent for not giving a grandchild to the excited would-be nana-nani or dada-dadi. Relatives along with in-laws and even random strangers hound the woman, peppering her with unwanted suggestions, tips, and assorted advice on getting pregnant.
3 Ways To Deal With The Pressure To Get Pregnant
1. Communicate With Your Partner
One vital way to deal with this is to discuss it with your partner. Ideally, you should discuss kids before you get married. Talk and chalk out your plan to conceive with your partner. Make it a healthy, informative conversation and take into consideration all the pros and cons of your decisions.
2. Share Your Plan
Once you have decided, announce it to your family. If you and your partner are being asked about getting pregnant time and again by your family, it’s best to discuss it openly. Sit them down and convey your decision as politely yet firmly as possible. This will make sure that your family is aware of your plans regarding the baby. Doing this together will create a stronger impact and put a stop to the pressure.
3. Connect With A Supporter
We all have one family member that just gets us. If you are close to your nanad or jethani/devrani, talk to them about this issue. This solution works best in homes where open conversations do not take place or there is hesitance in discussing such problems. Your trusted ally in the house can listen, offer support and have your back when the rest of the family puts pressure on you.
5 Tips To Tackle Arguments Made By The Family
1. Your Biological Clock Is Ticking
This is considered to be a fatal argument that no bahu can justify. But don’t let it affect you. Consult your gynaecologist and assess your fertility. Your doctor will give all the information you need based on your history and a physical examination. Collecting medical proof that you have more than enough time to conceive is vital in such cases. And this information can actually help you with family planning.
Erramatti Mangayamma became the world’s oldest new mother and had twins at the age of 74 in India.
2. Your Younger Sister/Cousin Is Pregnant
Age, for some reason, is still a major element when it comes to the life decisions of an Indian woman. From getting married at the “correct” age to pregnancies, everything needs to follow a schedule. While that may have worked for older generations, today’s times have changed. Women no longer feel insecure or jealous if someone younger than them gets married or pregnant before them. So make your family understand that not all couples need to follow a timetable. Some are comfortable conceiving soon after marriage while some need to take their own time.
Did You Know?
In India, the success rate of IVF ranges from 30% to 35%.
3. Your Life Is Incomplete Without Kids
Reproduction is no longer our only goal as human beings. Several couples plan not to have kids for a number of reasons. Some see it as a big commitment that will completely change their lifestyle. Some argue that their careers are more important and a child can derail their ambitions. Also, the financial pressure of raising a child in today’s day and age is certainly high. And it’s completely okay to not give in to the pressure and have a child merely for the sake of it. Share your concerns with your family and give them some time and space to come to terms with your decision.
“My husband and I have willingly decided to live a child-free life. It is a huge commitment and in fact, a burden that our shoulders were not ever prepared to bear.” – a 32-year-old CEO of a startup company
4. Babies Make Everything Better
Some mothers-in-law can be diplomatic when it comes to the subject of babies. They subtly try to coax you by showing cute baby videos and shoving someone’s child in your hand just to make you see their appeal. Some MILs tend to gossip about it and be extremely passive-aggressive in their demands. They will casually throw around phrases like, “budhape mein pota-poti toh chahiye hi”. This drama can take a toll on your mental and physical well-being. And the best way to tackle it is to talk to her as a woman, not your MIL. Make her understand that it’s not okay to put such pressure on you, that she must have gone through the same and should understand your situation.
Did You Know?
An estimated one in five (20%) Indian women suffer from PCOS which can result in infertility, risk of miscarriages and difficulty in conceiving.
5. Your Child Needs A Sibling To Play With
Even if a bahu “gifts” the family with a child, she is pressured to procure a second one soon. Arguments like your child will need someone to play with, he/she needs to learn to share, having 2 kids means they take care of each other are pretty common. You may face these if you plan on having only one child. The best solution is to declare that you would be having a single child. State your reasons and let the family accept this decision.
“My MIL, seeing my healthy, happy newborn baby boy for the first time, stated that I should give birth to a baby girl the next time, as I lay in the hospital, exhausted bed post-delivery.” – a 27-year-old mother of a boy
There are several ways to establish boundaries and convey your decisions about pregnancy to your family, relatives and friends. Visit your Gynaecologist, plan with your partner and communicate effectively. But the most important thing to remember is that it’s your and only your decision whether you want to conceive – be it now, later or never.