When you are pregnant, your territory is trespassed by friends, family and even foes who give you (mostly unsolicited) advice and information about your pregnancy . Talk about old wives’ tales! Here are some I have heard over the years:
1. Your baby will resemble the person you hang around often.
My Mom is the fairest among her siblings. According to my Grandmum, she ‘took’ this colour from a fair woman that came around her while she was pregnant. How a baby ‘takes’ a skin colour from someone is beyond me. My pregnant niece’s fiance warned her against hanging around a particular family because that will make their baby ugly. Hahakjq hahakjq (laughing in Hebrew). It doesn’t matter if you pack to the Unity Palace and live with Chantal Biya. if pikin go wowor, de woworness is unstoppable. By the way, no man no wowor (there is no ugly person).
2. Don’t eat anything too hot or too cold because it will affect the baby.
One day, while sitting with my long pregnant belly, I announced that I wanted to drink “hooooot tea” with an emphasis on “hot!”. My mother cut in to say it wasn’t good for me as the heat will burn the baby. How does hot tea find its way to the womb and burn a baby covered in amniotic fluid? She even banned me from eating anything cold or pepperish… because of the baby. Even you, Mummy? You are educated na.
3. A hairy baby causes a very nauseous first trimester.
When I had my first girl, she had a head full of hair. One day, while bathing her, Grandma questioned me: “You bi di ova vomet?” (Were you throwing up a lot while pregnant?) I answered in the affirmative and she responded that my baby’s hairs caused the nausea. So according to her, the hairs were irritating my throat which in turn caused me to keep to keep puking. Who came up with these “truths?”
4. A mixture of Top Grenadine and tin tomato (tomato paste) adds blood to the body.
I once visited a pregnant friend back in Cameroon and she sent her younger sister to buy drinks for all of us. She chose to drink Top Grenadine. Top Grenadine is a red strawberry-flavoured soda produced by the main brewery company in Cameroon called Brasseries di do Cameroun (actually, Brasseries du Cameroun). While drinking, she explain to me and her other guests that she chose that drink because it gives blood to pregnant women. She added that mixing it with tomato paste could heal anemia. So because these products are coloured red like blood, it is wrongly assumed they add blood to the body. I was stunned! A schooled girl, in the 21st century, believing in bullsh*t. Yah!
5. The sex of the baby can be told by looking at the shape of a heavily pregnant tummy.
I have heard someone said if a woman’s tummy is long and pointed, she will have a boy. The theory further stipulates that if the tummy is round, she will have a girl. I have had both tummy shapes and I ended up having girls. Wait… do believers in this theory thing that the boy pushes his butt against the walls of the womb to create a pointed tummy? How did they even come up with this?
6. If your have swollen feet (oedema), you will either have twins or have a c-section.
My Grandma is a firm believer in this. Oedema is a condition common in the third trimester of pregnancy whereby the woman’s feet swell due to fluid retention. It is believed by some women that the feet swell due to the weight of the baby. So they conclude that you will either need to have a c-section or you will birth twins. My feet were all swollen during my third trimester in my first pregnancy yet I had neither twins nor c-section. I wish the twins part was real, though.
7. Eating okra will guarantee a smooth labour.
A well meaning family friend sincerely advised me about this. She said okra is the reason why she easily pushed out her kids. She advised me to constantly eat/drink okra soup from the 7th month of pregnancy. It is believed that the slime from the okra lubricates the passage so the baby just slides out, screaming weeeeee as though going down the slide on a playground. Na wah!
Those pregnancy myths are what they are to me, myths. However, here is what I know about taking of yourself while pregnant:
-Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
-Do some form of regular exercise even if it is just walking.
-Avoid raw eggs and raw meat.
-Get regular medical check-up
AND LASTLY, TAKE EVERY ADVICE THE OLD WIVES GIVE YOU WITH A PINCH OF SALT.
I kind of miss being pregnant and receiving advice from every Joan, Mary and Adeline.*side eyes at Mr. N*
What are some of the myths surrounding pregnancy you have heard? Please share in the comments section below. This should be fun!