Pregnancy superstitions you probably didn’t know
Pregnancy superstitions: real or fake?
Many expectant mums believe pregnancy superstitions because they want to protect their babies from harm and danger. Because the prenatal period is filled with many new experiences, women develop these superstitions as a coping mechanism. Often their brains are brimming with myths handed down to them from older generations.
If I disclose my EDD to anyone, will I have a more excruciating labor room experience? Do pregnant women infect their spouses and children with fevers? Pregnancy superstitions and myths are often unfounded and beyond scientific proof.
"Humans have the disposition to seek for signs and symbols to accept as truths, especially in moments of confusion. Think about it this way: Every expectant mother yearns to hold her baby in her arms, but the outcome is not in her hands,” says Freda Ajayi, PhD,. Professor of Anthropology at the University of Calabar in Cross River State.
Despite the medical advancements available, maternal mortality and child morbidity rate is still high. Deliveries take unexpected turns all the time. For most women, these are valid reasons for holding on to the most ridiculous and misleading pregnancy superstitions.
Below are some of the most common pregnancy myths perpetuated in Nigeria today
1. Secrecy is key to the survival of your baby
Two weeks after I missed my period, I ran to my mother and declared in excitement, “I’m pregnant! My mother hushed me up, the way you would an insolent child. She told me the spirits were listening and if they knew too early before the second trimester began, they could jinx my pregnancy. I burst into tears at that point.” Professor Freda Ajayi explained.
This myth has been perpetuated since The Flood. No one understands the logic behind this superstition, but no one wants to challenge it and risk jeopardizing a pregnancy.
“About four weeks later, I miscarried that baby. The doctor attributed the loss to a folic acid deficiency and stress and age. But I always remembered my mother’s utterances. That pregnancy superstition will never leave me,” says Prof Freda Ajayi.
2. How to predict the sex of the baby
According to a series of myths, a woman is pregnant with a boy if:
• She feels unusually hot and sweaty throughout the pregnancy, especially if the heat forces her to shave off her hair.
• She has a craving for ice block and chews them constantly (the heat issue again)
• She experiences discomfort on the right side of her body,
• She becomes unusually confrontational and feisty.
On the other hand, the pregnant woman can guess that her baby is female if:
• Her face becomes too ugly
• She experiences discomfort or pain on the left side of her body
• She bursts into singing and dancing often
3. The Beauty Pregnancy Superstitions
As the woman’s pregnancy progresses and her features get bloated with fluids, people will share their myths.
--Your nose is five times its original size. It’s a sign that the female child in your womb has usurped your beauty, they’d say.
--Everyone knows that girls take their mother’s beauty, another would say.
“In most Nigerian cultures, it is generally believed that baby girls take from their mothers’ glorious hair. They also assert that female children take their mother’s color,” says Prof Freda Ajayi. “A fair-complexioned friend complained that her second daughter took the bulk of her fairness and that’s why her skin looks irreparably tanned.”
But experts have shown that physical changes during pregnancy are influenced by factors such as:
• Fluctuating hormonal levels
• Morning sickness
• And other pregnancy symptoms.
Expectant mothers should ignore the beauty myth and focus on controlling the things within their power. First, take steps to prevent pre and post-partum hair loss. Exercise and healthy eating habits can help pregnant women stay beautiful throughout and after their pregnancies.
4. On ropes/threads and cords
After I conceived of my second child, my mother waltzed into my living room with a litany of pregnancy superstitionsI shouldn’t joke with. Every Nigerian woman knows how sacred these rites of passage are. Anyway, before she began reading them, I excused myself from the meeting and sauntered off to the kitchen to get her a soft drink.
My husband had left his skipping rope on the floor, and I saw no harm in skipping over it. My mother screamed and grabbed my waist. “Rule Number 1: never ever step over a rope or a thread. You could endanger your baby’s life by causing the umbilical cord to become tangled around the baby’s neck.”
I sighed and stepped around the rope. Till today, I still ponder in the origin and logic of this myth. How does stepping over a rope result in a case of the nuchal cord?
5. Avoid burial grounds and funerals
Most of us are three generations away from animism. The fear of death, spirits and ghosts still haunts us. This fear has led to the formulation of a myth that pregnant women shouldn’t attend funerals.
“According to the custodians of this belief, a restless and bad spirit can possess the baby in the womb,” says Professor Freda Ajayi.
Expectant mothers are often exempted from burial ceremonies in most parts of the world.
Final thoughts on pregnancy myths
Some pregnancy superstitionsare plain funny old wives' tales, others are very sinister. Every expectant mother heeds them all because they want to all that they can to guarantee their baby’s safety.
Whether you are a believer or a sceptic, these superstitions are baseless and irrational anyway.
Resource: American Pregnancy