Filipino culture has always been full of superstitions. For almost everything you can think of, there is probably a pamahiin related to it. Pregnant moms often hear these superstitions from well-meaning loved ones. While some of the superstitions may seem harmless, this should not replace proper obstetrics and gynecology consultation and care. Proper prenatal care, not old wives’ tales, will keep your baby healthy inside the tummy and help with a smooth delivery.
Here is a list of debunked pregnancy superstitions:
1. A pregnant woman’s cravings will affect the baby’s appearance
Also called paglilihi, the superstitions say that the food a pregnant woman craves can make the baby take on certain features. Chocolate or any dark-colored food is said to give the baby a darker complexion, while light-colored food like milk is said to contribute to lighter skin color. These superstitions extend beyond food, covering smells and even sights that the pregnant mom may be obsessed with or averse to.
Truthfully, food (or any of the cravings and obsessions) has no effect on the baby’s physical appearance. The baby’s skin color will depend on the genes of the parents. The best way to find out what your baby will look like is through 4D ultrasounds.
Despite that, some may encourage pregnant moms to indulge their cravings since it is believed to be for the baby as well. The better thing to do would be to consult with your doctor on how to manage your diet to ensure that the baby is getting proper nutrients.
2. Avoid wearing necklaces or wrapping towels around your neck
Harmless accessories worn around the neck, according to this superstition, will cause the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby’s neck. This has no factual basis, but the superstition preys on a serious concern pregnant mothers have.
It is possible for the umbilical cord to wrap around the baby’s neck, particularly during the second and third trimester. This is caused by the baby’s own movements in the womb and not external factors.
Getting regular checkups with your doctor before delivery can give you more insights and possibly allay your fears.
3. Pregnant women should avoid attending funerals
The consequences of this superstition differ depending on which version you hear. Some say that being around death can cause a stillborn. Another version says that vengeful spirits will try to take the baby away.
Being at a funeral won’t cause these things to happen. However, the emotional stress that death brings can be a cause for concern. When you are stressed, the body copes by releasing the stress hormone cortisol. Unfortunately, the placenta surrounding the baby can also release this hormone. This hormone enters the amniotic fluid in small amounts, which may alter fetal metabolism.
Should you be dealing with heavy emotional matters, or if you are anticipating stressful situations during your pregnancy, your doctor should be able to advise you on how to deal with them in a safe and healthy manner.
4. Eating twin bananas can increase the chances of having twins
Other versions of this superstition include “twin” food, like eggs with twin yolks. Some people encourage pregnant women to eat these kinds of food to have twins, while others may say to avoid them.
In truth, twins are produced in two kinds of ways. The first is when a single embryo splits into two after fertilization, which creates identical twins. The second is when two separate egg cells are each fertilized by different sperm, resulting in fraternal twins.
If you want to increase your chances of having twins, then it’s important to understand that genetics, family history, fertility, and treatments such as IVF (In-Vitro Fertilization) play a great role.
Despite twin bananas and eggs having nothing to do with conceiving twins, bananas and eggs are good sources of nutrients for pregnant mothers. Good prenatal care can help identify what you need to include in the diet to keep the mom and the baby healthy.
5. Don’t sew or step over ropes to avoid labor difficulties
These superstitions are based on the symbolism of ropes and how mothers who have had cesarean sections will require sutures. Otherwise, they have no factual basis.
Factors that can result to difficulties during labor are age, genetics, stress levels, existing medical conditions, and the like. Through prenatal consultations, you can address these concerns and possibly find ways to ensure easier and safer delivery.
6. If the pregnant woman has spots or dark areas on the body, the baby will be a boy
The superstition says that dark spots on the nape, neck, groin, face, and armpits are telltale signs that the baby will be a boy. On the opposite side of the spectrum, if the woman appears more refreshed and “blooming”, she is likely having a girl.
The gender of the baby isn’t something that is seen in the physical appearance. The only way to check the baby’s gender is through an ultrasound.
At the core of it, these superstitions are shared with expecting moms out of concern or even for the sake of tradition. While elders will say that there’s no harm in believing and following pregnancy superstitions, the health of the mom and baby should not depend on old wives’ tales or folklore. Proper prenatal care can best address the baby’s needs while in the womb, all while taking care of the mother’s health.
Pregnant mothers can avail of discounted rates for routine prenatal tests and procedures through Makati Medical Center’s Prenatal Care Package. It includes 14 procedures: Complete Blood Count (CBC), urinalysis, rubella test, glucose screening, Pap Smear auto, HB/SAG Anti HBS, blood typing ABO/RH, VDRL/RPR qualitative, HIV screening, transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound, and congenital anomaly scan.
Get in touch with your medical provider so you can get the care that you and your child deserve.