Interview 29

Age at interview: 28
Brief Outline: Recently married woman from Pakistan in her first pregnancy. Would like more information and advice in her own language.
Background: Occupations' Mother- housewife, Father- chef. Marital status' married. Ethnic background' Pakistani. Audio interview in Punjabi.

More about me...

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She felt hot and anxious in pregnancy. Family members advised her to drink juice and eat cold...

(Translated from Punjabi) 

It was the change that was a bit of a problem more than anything else, I had a great deal of anxiety - I could not vomit so I felt very hot.

Did you feel like vomiting?

No. I did not feel like eating much, but I felt very anxious that something hot was moving inside.


I felt as if smoke was coming out of my ears - I was full of anxiety every day, and thought how difficult it was, and was worried about what would happen in the coming days. 

So, did you talk to any one about what was happening to you?

Yes, I discussed things with Aunty and Sister and told them how it was, they told me to drink juice or eat cold things or fruit.

Did they tell you not to eat hot things?

I did not feel like eating anything hot myself - I used to drink four or five cups of tea but then I stopped it. I used to feel hot just by looking at tea.

Good, hot inside anyway-

Yes it was hot.

Some people say that you should not eat hot things in this condition anyway-

You do not feel like eating anything for two or three months in any case.

Did anyone advise you to stay away from hot food?

No, they told me to eat what I felt like, but not to force myself, because if you are sick then that is not a lot of good.

Right, so you do not feel sick but just anxious?

Yes too much anxiety, it was really bad for three months but now I feel a bit better.

[Some foods are considered in many South Asian communities to generate heat in the body. Such 'hot' foods are not necessarily warm or spicy in themselves, but it is their effect on the body that matters. 'Cool' foods may be recommended to neutralise the 'hot' state of pregnancy.]
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As a Muslim, she feels more comfortable being seen by a female member of staff. (Audio clip in...

(Translated from Punjabi)

I have not had to deal with men so far, but if I did, I would say I only want a woman. It's difficult with men, it's better if a woman can be arranged.

How will you explain if you are faced with a problem like that? For example, what reason will you give for wanting to be seen by a woman?

I am a Muslim, that's the first thing, that other men - my friend, she did not have a baby for four years, but she said she had no choice, so she had a check-up, inside, but she did not like it and she still worries about it being a sin or not. Because we are forbidden in Islam, so I worry about that also - that if there was a problem like that and I had to be checked up by a man, then I would not like it, I think.

There is a pressure on your mind?

Yes, God forbid if some thing like that happened - having a check-up done by men.

But what if there is no other way, like a life or death situation?

Well I suppose in that situation you have to do it, but if arrangements can be made - you know there are a lot of Muslims here, they should make arrangements for Muslim women.
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The pregnancy book from her GP was useful but she would have liked it in Urdu. (Audio clip in...

(Translated from Punjabi)

And this book that they gave you, was it in Urdu?

No, in English.

So how did you find out?                

No, I can read English a bit, and if I don't understand a word, I can ask my husband and tell him that I don't understand.

Your sister thought you should not have read it. What do you think? Was it good that you read it or should you not have read it?

No, it was OK, you have some idea at least, you are better prepared mentally for all that is going to happen. No, I think the book is necessary.

Should it be in Urdu?

Yes, if it is in Urdu it would be better, because I do not understand everything in English. You know, in Pakistan we may learn by memorising and we can even get through exams, but when it comes to speaking it is not good there. I can understand a bit what the doctors say, but the accent is very different from Pakistan - and I cannot understand.

Does anyone ever go with you to the doctor's?

Yes, Aunty goes.

Right, and how is her English?

She speaks broken English, but she can say a few words, the doctors can understand her.


She tells me to speak as well, but I feel if I say anything at all it should be correct. If it is Urdu or Punjabi then it's better, one can communicate properly.

When you go to hospital, do you cope yourself or do you ever call for an interpreter?

They asked me this time, the midwife asked me that if I needed an interpreter they could arrange it. I will find out next time I go.

What did you say when they asked you?

I said it would be better if they can get Urdu or Punjabi.

Does your doctor have an interpreter?

No. We can cope with our broken English.
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She was worried whether the baby would have a disability. She had heard marrying one's cousin...

(Translated from Punjabi) 

My Aunty - Aunty had two children who were abnormal, disabled. I am also scared about that my baby should be normal. That it should be OK.

Right. So did you talk to Aunty about that, that there are disabled children in the family?

No, she married within her close family, to her paternal aunt's son, they marry mostly in their family so that is why they have children like that. They were saying that it is not always the case, that my family and their family were separate, that it wasn't necessary that our children would be like that, that I shouldn't worry about it and put myself under tension.

This thing you said that if you marry within close family, there is a greater risk of having disabled children, where did you hear it from?

Both my aunts' children were like that. One had a son who died aged one year. He was abnormal, he could not even sit. She was married to her aunt's son. The other aunt was married to her aunt's son, her son could not speak. The doctor told them that the whole problem was due to cousin marriage. Our marriage is also cousin marriage so naturally I am a bit scared.

Do you believe that it is true?

Yes I do. I have seen many cases of cousin marriages.

Due to cousin marriage?


Has anyone talked to you that it may not always be the case?

Yes, a friend of mine said that it is not always the case, because only one in ten children may be like that due to cousin marriage.

Has any one ever told you that these are just tales people tell about cousin marriages?

No, they show it on TV and there is a lot about it in books as well that you shouldn't marry with cousins, because there are many cases like that.

Right, so the book they gave you to read, does it have a mention about it?        

No, it is not mentioned in that.

Which book did you read it in?

I do not remember the name of the book, but books like digests have things in them, and there is more in TV programmes.

In Pakistan?

In Pakistan they show quite a lot of programmes that cousin marriages should not take place, because if two children are normal then there is a chance that the third might be abnormal.

Right, so you have this fear...?

Yes I am a bit afraid.

(There is only a small added risk from first cousin marriage, unless there is a family history of abnormalities caused by a recessive gene * in this case there is a higher risk that a couple who are related to each other will both be carriers and that their baby will have the condition).
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She had read the pregnancy book the GP had given her but would like more information and...

(Translated from Punjabi)

So have you thought about how you want it to be when it is time to give birth?

No, not at all.

You have not thought that far ahead?

No not that far [laughter]. I will see near the time. Whatever the will of God is. I have left it up to God. 

Yes. The book has information right up to the time, hasn't it?


From that, what do you think will happen?

You know the pictures that are in it, there is too much discomfort on the faces, during labour - but you have to go through all that.

Do you know what they can give you to reduce the pain?

They said that if I wanted they could give me an injection.


But Aunty says that we should not have the injection.


For two or three weeks your legs become weak, you cannot walk. It happened to her daughter, that is why -

There are many kinds of injections-did they tell you about the back injection?


Or one on the leg?

I thing it was about the one on the leg.

There is one injection for the back, have you heard about it?                

No, I have not.

OK - and the mask they put on for gas, have you heard about that?

Yes, it is written in the book.

So what do you think about that?

I do not have the experience, but I don't know how it will----


So no one told you about gas?

No, no one.

How much did you know about it?

They just say that if you want and need it you can use it.

Do you think you will use it or are you thinking about something else?

No, nothing yet.

Do you think that it should be used or not?


Has anyone talked to you about it?


Right - some women give birth in water, what do you think about that?

I don't know if it would be right or not, I don't know.

Sitting in the bath-

Yes, I have read about it in the book.

If someone asks you that you should do it this way, what would you say?

I don't know.

When the time comes-

Yes, I will see when the time comes.

But don't you want to say that
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Her mother was too embarrassed to talk to her about breastfeeding, but she was convinced it was...

( Translated from Punjabi)

How are you going to feed the baby, bottle milk or your own?

My own.


Yes, your own milk is good. Our mum did not use a feeder for us. Even in Islam it is recommended that mother's milk is good, children should be given mother's milk

Do you believe it is better?

Yes, much better.

How is it better?

It is written in the book, and they say you don't get breast cancer if you breastfeed. It is also good for the baby, makes the bones stronger. They take longer to get used to the other milk, you don't know which one will suit the baby. Mother's milk is natural and God made it so - and that is why motherhood is highly regarded, you know, giving birth and then giving milk.

Right. So has anyone advised you about this, how to look after the baby and about feeding?

No, nobody.

Did you talk to your mum when you saw her?

Not really. My mum was so shy; she just told me to take care and to rest and all that.      


When I got married I said to her that other mums tell a lot of things, but you haven't really told me anything. I think she got embarrassed and even now she did not say much.

Why not?

She is not very educated. I am very close to her, we are good friends, but she did not say much on this topic, I don't know why.

Even after you asked her about it?

Yes, I asked her but she just laughed and told me to behave [laughs].
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