Congratulations are in order, there’s a bun in your oven and your life is about to change. Pregnancy is a time of excitement and anticipation, as most mothers to be will tell you. It’s also a time when you’re full of questions, many of them, unfortunately, based on myth and superstition.
We have curated seven Nigerian pregnancy superstitions that you might have heard, and we’ll debunk them. You and your baby deserve good health and a peaceful mind, and we will help you achieve it.
Once a Nigerian woman falls pregnant, she is quickly inundated with a long list – a few dos and several don’ts. Instructions designed to guide the new mother and help her sustain her pregnancy to full term. Sometimes, these instructions come from her mother, who received them from her mother before her. Other times, they come from her in-laws, well-meaning friends, or even colleagues. Interestingly and only too often, these instructions have no actual medical foundation.
They are simply cultural myths, steeped in superstition. Superstitious beliefs which have trickled down over the years, from one mother to another. Even though Nigeria is multi-ethnic, many of these beliefs are the same in different cultures.
Busted! Let’s Debunk The Seven Nigerian Pregnancy Superstitions
- Don’t Disclose Your Pregnancy Until It Is Obvious So The Baby Doesn’t Die
One of the first things your mum tells you is that you must keep the news of your pregnancy under wraps. They say you don’t know who your enemies are, so you must keep it a secret. Apart from telling your partner and your immediate family, you must make no announcements until the pregnancy is old enough to announce itself by the size of your stomach, and by which time a verbal announcement is unnecessary. Well, the secrecy is unnecessary. A baby is good news and good news should be shared.
- Don’t Go Out In The Afternoon So Spirits Don’t Possess Your Baby
You’re told not to go out in the afternoon when it’s very sunny, because it is believed that evil spirits are on the prowl at that time, and they will possess your baby. It is widely held that this is how stubborn children are made. If you must go out in the afternoon, they say you must attach a safety pin to your underwear, around your stomach. This pin will protect the baby from evil spirits.
There’s no scientific link between safety pins and evil spirits. Not yet at least. When we find out the link, we will be sure to let you know.
- Don’t See Masquerades
You’re told not to see masquerades because your baby will look like the masquerades. Or worse, it can result in the death of your foetus. This means you cannot attend carnivals and fanfares, because you’re pregnant. Unless the masquerades will flog you across your belly or even touch you at all, it is still unclear how they will do the killing. And we’re not quite clear on how DNA is transferred just by looking. From what we know, masquerades just dance around and entertain spectators. To be sure, babies only resemble the people whose DNA they have.
- Don’t Eat Snails, Okro or Anything Slimy
When you’re pregnant, you’re told not to eat snails, okra, ewedu or anything slimy. They tell you that if you do, you’ll give birth to a child with special needs who drools all day. This is particularly hilarious, that our ancestors thought that the slime in snails is the reason why some children are born different. Nobody is asking why snails are great for non pregnant adults but not for pregnant women. Dear pregnant woman, if you crave snails during pregnancy, by all means load up on them. Just make sure you eat healthy all the time.
- If You Eat Grass Cutter Meat While Pregnant, You Must Gather The Bones And Keep Them
We’re not sure why but it is said that if a pregnant woman eats grass cutter, she must gather the bones and keep them until the day she delivers her baby. She must hold the bones in her hands as she pushes out the baby. They say it will help her deliver safely. At least you’re allowed to eat bush meat. We sincerely doubt that you’ll remember bones when the baby is coming, but if you do, okay.
- Make A Knot In Your Wrapper And put A Stone Inside It
A great many people believe that when you’re pregnant, you should knot stones in your wrapper. They say that if you do this and put the wrapper on your head, labour pain will immediately cease, and you will enjoy a painless delivery. Anything that gives painless labour and doesn’t endanger baby is welcome. Just don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work. There’s no basis for it in science.
- Don’t Drink Directly From The Bottle
We hear that if a pregnant woman drinks directly from the bottle, her baby will grow up to be a child who stutters. People believe that stuttering a result of the person’s mother drinking from the bottle when she was pregnant. It’s not exactly very cool to drink from a bottle that others will share in. You’re pregnant, so you must pay extra attention to your hygiene. But if you are not sharing the bottle, feel free to guzzle away. Stuttering may run in families because of an inherited abnormality in the part of the brain that governs language. If you or your parents stuttered, your children may also stutter.
It is 2019, and the age of the internet is here. Everything you need to know about your pregnancy is on the internet. Just ask us. Also, your doctor should be your point person for information of whatever kind. He will be happy to answer your questions because he is there to answer them. It is time we laid these superstitions to rest, don’t you agree?
What other Nigerian pregnancy superstitions have you heard? What do you think of these ones? Share with us in the comments.
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com