Getting pregnant and giving birth are milestones in a woman’s life, and happy ones at that! And when you live in a country like India, that joy is multiplied manifold, when both sides of the family join in a common celebration. The more the merrier!
However, more people to celebrate also means more people who give you advice, and some of it seems to be steeped in superstition! If you’ve ever been pregnant in India, then it’s certain that you’ve heard your share of such ‘advice’! But when you hear many people repeat the same theories, it makes you wonder if there’s any truth in them – why else would everyone be advocating the same thing? Finding out the truth behind these can be challenging, but don’t worry – that’s what we are here for!
We have explained in detail about 15 common pregnancy myths and facts.
1. Your position during intercourse can affect the baby’s sex
Let’s begin at the beginning! Considering India’s obsession with the male child, it’s no wonder that people have come up with many ways to determine the result of something they have absolutely no control over! You can try any position you want – but besides the advantage of spicing things up, there really is no way to ensure that conception happens in the exact XX-XY combination that you want. It’s important to recognize that this belief falls under the category of pregnancy myths and should not be relied upon for determining the baby’s sex.
Verdict: Fun, but still Myth!
2. Don’t inform anyone of the pregnancy till the first trimester is over
This belief is widespread globally. Many people choose to wait before sharing their pregnancy news due to the higher risk of miscarriage in the early months. The decision to wait or share early is personal, with considerations of emotional support and unwanted advice playing a role. It’s important to recognize that this practice falls under the category of pregnancy myths and should not be seen as a universal rule.
Verdict: Fact, depending upon your circumstances and personality.
3. Pregnant women shouldn’t eat papaya; it can cause a miscarriage
Okay, this one is very popular in India! So much that some mothers in law completely ban all foods beginning with ‘p’ – pineapples, plums, peaches etc.! Papayas are said to contain a latex substance, which is more concentrated in unripe papayas. This latex may mimic human hormones that may trigger labor. Though you might need to eat a good deal of papaya to actually start labor, experts recommend sticking to ripe versions of the fruit.
Verdict: Partial fact, concerning unripe fruit only.
4. Consuming saffron during pregnancy will result in a fair-skinned child
In India, there’s a strong fascination with fair skin, and it’s not uncommon for mothers-to-be to consume saffron-flavored milk in the hopes of having a fair-skinned baby. However, let’s debunk this pregnancy myth – the color of a baby’s skin is determined by genetics, not by the consumption of saffron or any other food. So, while saffron may offer various health benefits, it won’t guarantee a fair complexion for your little one. Embrace the unique beauty of your child, regardless of their skin tone.
Verdict: Super myth, but good for general health!
5. If you’re glowing, it’s a boy
Ah, the elusive “pregnancy glow.” It’s a term often used to describe the radiant appearance some expectant mothers seem to have. But here’s the truth: every woman’s pregnancy journey is unique, and so is her skin. Hormonal changes can indeed affect your skin, but whether you experience a noticeable glow or not depends on various factors, such as your skin type and skincare routine. So, don’t worry if your glow doesn’t align with the myths surrounding the pregnancy glow. Embrace the changes in your skin and cherish this special time in your own beautiful way.
Verdict: Myth – and plain nonsense!
6. The ‘hang’ of your belly determines the baby’s sex
There really is no end to the superstitions concerning an unborn child’s gender, and not just in India! Apparently if the belly hangs low, it’s a boy, and higher up means a girl. Seriously? The way your belly hangs is dependent upon your skeletal structure, the strength of your muscles and the trimester you are in – the belly always hangs towards your due date.
Verdict: Myth, myth, myth!!
7. Pregnant women shouldn’t step outside in an eclipse
There is no shortage of superstitions surrounding pregnant women and eclipses. These beliefs, rooted in the past when knowledge about eclipses was limited, often lead to unfounded fears and precautions. Nowadays, many people dismiss these myths, realizing there is no logical basis for them. However, some still choose to err on the side of caution. It’s important to remember that eclipses pose no inherent danger to pregnant women, and embracing scientific understanding can help dispel unnecessary anxieties.
Verdict: Ancient myth!
8. Pregnant women should avoid funerals and homes of the sick
While some consider it a superstition, avoiding funerals and sick homes during pregnancy is often associated with pregnancy myths. However, there are practical reasons behind this advice. These environments can be emotionally draining and pose a risk of exposure to germs, which may harm the fetus. Prioritizing mental well-being and minimizing the risk of infections are important aspects of prenatal care.
Verdict: Fact, due to different reasons though!
9. Pregnant women shouldn’t travel alone, especially in the final trimester
This is a pregnancy myth we can support: Be prepared for the unexpected! As seen in Hollywood movies, a pregnant woman’s water can break at any time. That’s why it’s important not to drive or travel alone close to your due date. Make sure your hospital bag is packed and ready, ensuring you’re prepared for any sudden delivery.
10. Pregnant women should look at pictures of beautiful people or beautiful things
The superstition suggests that surrounding yourself with beauty during pregnancy will result in a beautiful baby. While genetics determine a baby’s looks, creating a positive environment with beautiful objects can calm the mind and benefit both the mother and baby. It’s no wonder many women opt for a babymoon in a picturesque destination to enjoy their pregnancy to the fullest and debunk such pregnancy myths.
11. If a pregnant woman is denied the food she craves, her baby will be born with a birthmark in the shape of that food
Wow. Now this one takes the cake for being so specific! We can all agree that if that were true, our babies would have chocolate/noodles/pizza/chips shaped marks on their bodies. This was probably started to scare dads-to-be into giving into their pregnant wives’ cravings, since a craving is usually the body’s way of letting you know that something’s missing in your diet. But a jalebi-shaped birthmark?
Verdict: Myth, of course!
12. Don’t buy anything for the baby before the birth
This is another superstition that isn’t restricted to India. Everyone knows the reason behind this one – during a time when infant mortality was very high, this rule spared women from the pain of looking at things bought for their deceased child. It doesn’t make sense nowadays anyway, considering that most of us live in nuclear families, and there is no way to shop for the baby right after delivery! Unless of course, you trust Dad to do 100% of the baby’s shopping!
Verdict: Myth really, unless you have a personal shopper you trust!
13. Don’t leave the baby’s or new mother’s clothes outside after sunset
In India, this probably makes sense. Newborns have very low immunity and their things need to be kept super clean. When you leave baby clothes outside in the dark, you never know what kind of insects or animals might get their hands on them. Same goes for the mother’s clothes since she is always in close proximity with the baby. Now, if you live in a place where there is absolutely no chance of this happening, then go ahead!
Verdict: Fact, depending upon where you live.
14. New mothers should drink only hot water
The belief that pregnant women should avoid cold water is a common pregnancy myth. In reality, there is no scientific basis for this claim. Access to safe and clean water allows pregnant women to drink water at any temperature they prefer. Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health, particularly for breastfeeding mothers. Rather than unhealthy soft drinks, it is advisable to choose healthier options like coconut water or fresh juices to quench your thirst. It’s essential to dispel such pregnancy myths and make informed choices that prioritize your well-being during this special time.
15. New mothers shouldn’t step out of the house or entertain for 40 days
In the initial weeks, a newborn baby’s vulnerable immune system requires care. A 40-day rest period is ideal for recovery, bonding, and routine establishment. However, misconceptions arise when this period is seen as strict confinement, hindering necessary outings like vaccinations. Additionally, postpartum depression is a reality, emphasizing the importance of supportive friends during this phase.
Verdict: Party true, if it is not imposed upon too strictly.
There are of course, many, many more traditions, with specific ones for different regions and communities. Some are fun, some are valid, some are silly and some are plain inconvenient. The best thing to do is to use your judgment and consider the baby’s and your welfare above everything else, even your nosey neighbors’ offended looks!