The bulging belly and the old wives tales

11:16 AM

It never fails, the minute you start popping and people can start telling you are pregnant and not just fat, here comes the do and don'ts of pregnancy and most of them are myths. What fascinates me, is that no culture is spared, each have their own arsenal of "facts" generously hammered into the mom to be's head by elder and even novice ladies in her entourage. And therefore India is no different and has a few interesting ones (if not downright hilarious). I heard a few, and I went looking around the Internet looking for yet some more and decided to list some of the craziest in this blog.

1) Drink Milk with Saffron everyday to ensure that the baby will get a fair complexion. - That I was almost expecting to find, because let's face it India has a thing for fair skin, and judging the amount of creams, potions and lotions available in the market to make one fairer I would have been surprised to learn that an unborn child would be spared the fair fetish. This myth has obviously no truth to it, we all know that the baby's complexion is purely genetic and no amount of milk or saffron will alter that.

2) Don't eat sesame seeds, as it will give the baby a dark complexion. - Again that is an obvious one, if there is a food that is supposed to make babies fairer in the womb, you can bet there is its nemesis which will ensure an ugly dusky complexion. So apparently, sesame seeds that is...hmmm whatever.

3) Being out during a solar or lunar eclipse, or itching during one will give the baby birth marks. - Which culture hasn't something to say about birth marks and find all the reason why a pregnant woman might have given some to her baby? We all want cute rosy flawless skinned babies so it's not surprising that there are myths about how flaws happen. In some western cultures I heard it's eating strawberries that will give ugly skin marks. Quite obviously there is zero truth to it but one has to blame these on something right?

4) A pregnant woman should not be outside after dark, or she will invite the evil eye upon herself and the baby. -Simply put, no culture likes night, the reason is that human beings are day time creatures, and in the old cave days darkness would make us anxious simply because we are vulnerable at night as it's our sleep time and we are at the mercy of predators. This basic survival instinct gave birth to a lot of cultural facts to support the wickedness of the night and its danger. Bats, Owls, Wolves and Cats are all messengers of the devils in a culture or another, witches come out at night, the unnatural occurs then as well, and kids are taught early not to be out at night because it's dangerous. While night is no more dangerous than day time, it is a fact that humans are impaired after sunset and are less likely to see danger coming as their strongest sens is the sense of sight and it isn't at its most efficient at night, but this is no evil eye and being out in the dark won't bring all evil to you.

5) Eating lot of ghee (clarified butter) will ensure a smooth delivery as it lubricates the birth canal. - If it was so true then I bet doctors would use it as an external lubricant as well, but so far the only thing high consumption of ghee will give you is a abnormally high BMI, increased risk of heart disease and ensure you'll never ever ever fit in your pre-pregnancy clothes again.

6) An expecting woman should not trim her hair or nails, as it will affect the quality of the baby's hair and nail as well. -Yet another old wives tale attempting to beat genetic...enough said about it.

7) Ginger, banana and mangoes should not be eaten during pregnancy as they are "heat generating food" - I looked these up after being told not to eat yellow fruits and papaya. And papaya is the only one to avoid along with pineapple because it MIGHT (strong emphasis on the might) trigger a miscarriage due to an enzyme present in unripe fruits, that too if eaten in big quantities, the scientific body is still a bit divided on the issue. All the other yellow food stuff are fine, in fact ginger will be one of the most efficient natural way of keeping morning sickness at bay. Mangoes contain a lot of essential minerals, calcium and vitamin A a pregnant woman needs to have in her diet and bananas are a good source of potassium.
As for the heat factor? I never felt hotter after eating any of these pregnant or not, and in fact a nice fresh mango eaten straight from the fridge is a welcome refresher on a very hot day.

8) A pregnant woman should not tie her belt or the waistband of her petticoat too tightly. If she does this, the baby will have a flat nose. -Again which culture isn't showing concern about that bulging belly, the fact that a whole new human being is growing in there always sparked fascination and we all want to bring this new life no harm. Science will show though that babies are well protected in the womb, and an elastic waist band or drawstring will not bring any deformation. Wearing tight fitting clothing at the waist will at the most be extremely uncomfortable for the mom to be, but no harm will be done to baby.

Then there are all the gender predicting tales, each culture is plagued with zillions of these, ranging from the size and shape of the tummy, to what she eats, or how she looks, being a sure sign of whether the baby is a boy or girl. The reason these myths have been around so long is that you are sure to find proves to support these claims, after all the odds of being right or wrong is 50/50 since you give birth to either a girl or a boy.
In India though since you can't legally know the gender during an ultrasound (the only accurate ways of predicting it), these myths are a fun way to speculate on what gender the baby is and make you patient until delivery, then you quite obviously will come with "I knew it would be a boy/girl because...." (insert supporting myth of choice) and you are sure to find one old wive tale if not many confirming you were right about the gender, and forget about all these that were wrong for you.
In fact if you don't believe me on the amount of gender prediction methods, type "Pregnancy old wives tales" in google and be prepared to have a couple of hours of reading. I decided to check a few dozen of them, and the more you apply to your pregnancy the closer you come to your odds of 50% chances of having a boy or 50% chances of having a girl will come true (which isn't a lie after all).


  1. These are awesome - thanks for sharing!


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