Some pregnancy myths in Ghana: truth or superstition?

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Twenty-first century women are skeptical about some dos and don’ts about pregnancy and motherhood in general which the generations past held onto with every fiber of their being. Discerning women now question and analyze things which our forbearers were quick to believe without ascertaining the truth and validity of it. This however does not make every practice of our mothers and grandmothers senseless.

Here are 5 myths about pregnancy in Ghana that the Afrikan mum has to decide for herself whether to believe as a truth, or sweep under the rug.

Myth #1: Not going out at night

The older generation of women in Ghana and even some younger ones believe that a pregnant woman is not supposed to go out walking in the dark. This is because of the belief that evil spirits and other supernatural beings prowl the night and that they could harm the mother and/or child. The modern day woman would attribute this belief to be a superstitious one. However, one cannot ignore the fact that walking in the dark could be dangerous to a pregnant woman. She could trip over something on the ground as her vision wouldn’t be clear enough to see.

Myth #2: Eating for two

Being pregnant means growing another human inside of you. It makes sense therefore that a pregnant woman would want to eat for two people. The older generation of women will encourage a pregnant woman to eat as much food as possible. Doctors however caution against this as a fetus only requires only a few extra calories aside the normal diet of the woman to grow. The downside of overeating is weight gain which is hard to shed off after birth. In fact, overindulgence could cause other health complications to a pregnant woman.

Myth #3: No taking of photos 

The knowledge of where this fear stems from is unknown but growing up in the 90s, a lot of pregnant women refused to have their pictures taken for an unknown fear of something. These days, the rate at which photoshoot for bridal showers flood our screens makes one wonder whether that decades-ago fear was irrational or not. The only logical reason could be that the flash of cameras back then was falsely thought to be harmful to the fetus like x-rays do?

Myth #4: Hide the pregnancy as long as possible

As with the first myth in this piece, this belief is attributed to the fear of evil spirits and supernatural beings. Pregnant women are advised to hide their pregnancy as long as it takes to ward off the effects of evil eyes and `bad` people who may do harm to the fetus in the early stages. Talk about jinxing! Some women go as far as in denying their pregnancy to people they may not find trustworthy. Again, this is more superstition than truth but others will bet their last cedi on it.

Myth #5: Sex in the latter stage of pregnancy makes birth easier

Pregnant women are advised to have more sex, especially in the latter stages to aid in easier birth. Some women swear by this as cause for easy birth. Lack of sex in the third trimester DOES not necessarily result in a difficult birth. Contrary to popular belief, what frequent sex does in pregnancy especially in the latter stage is to stimulate the cervix and soften it to induce labor, but not to make birth easier. This point is often misconstrued as to mean sex opens up the cervix and vagina for passage of the baby. Myth busted! By all means, sex in pregnancy is good and even preferred.

Do you have any myth that you heard or practiced when you were pregnant? AfrikanMum would like to hear from you about them. Please do share!

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Story By: Nafisa Mohammed