Pamahiin: Debunking 20 Pinoy pregnancy myths
If there’s one thing about the Filipino culture that people should know, it’s that Filipinos are very superstitious. In fact, Pinoys have superstitions (pamahiin) about almost everything: be it marriage, moving into a new house or one’s pregnancy. Nowadays, you'd think that parents would be more informed as to why said superstitions are nothing by myths passed down from one generation to the next, but surprisingly there is still fair share who continue to believe.
If you fall under this category, then we suggest that you continue to read on to know the scientific explanations that will debunk 20 Pinoy pregnancy “pamahiin”.
1. If you want to have twins, eat twin bananas!
Many of the elderly believe that if you eat twin bananas, it increases your chances of having multiples. However, thanks to modern medicine, parents nowadays know that multiples are the result of genetic issues:
(a) One egg is released but splits into two, thus identical twins are made. This can occur with or without fertility drugs.
(b) Multiple eggs are released or there is more than one ovulation. Both (or more) eggs are fertilized and you have fraternal twins. This can happen with or without fertility drugs.
2. If you’re tummy is pointed, you have a boy. If it’s round, you have a girl.
Contrary to popular belief, the shape of your baby bump does NOT determine the sex of your baby. Instead, your stomach taking on the shape it has is determined by several factors such as muscle tone, uterine tone and the position the baby is in.
If you think you’re carrying a boy because your stomach is low, than hate to break it to you, but it’s actually because your baby dropped lower into the delivery because you’re closer to delivery. If you want an accurate means of knowing the gender of your baby, then ask your doctor about having an ultrasound.
Pamahiin sa buntis | Image from Unsplash
3. Don’t eat adobo or dark chocolate or else your baby will inherit the color!
Comparable to the “if you see something ugly, your baby will be ugly too!” myth, the things that you see or eat do NOT necessarily determine your child’s physical features. Going back to your high school Biology class, your baby’s physical features will be greatly determined by genetics.
The biological parents give their unborn child a total of 46 chromosomes. 23 from the mother and the other set of 23 chromosomes are from the father. In Biology (if you still remember), we studied about chromosomes, and that dominant gene always beats out the recessive one. Therefore, the baby’s looks depend on the dominant gene.
4. “Don’t cut your hair” or “swallow a raw egg” so that you have an easier time during delivery!
It’s no surprise that there is no scientific explanation to back up these claims. Contrary to these pamahiins, labor is dependent on the mom’s well-being. In order to have a relatively easier labor, doctors and health experts recommend that the mom keep fit and active during her pregnancy.
Keeping fit and building up your endurance will allow you to better tolerate labor pains and decrease the need for more medical intervention than necessary. However, it is very important that you always seek your doctor’s advice with regards to fitness activities during pregnancy.
5. Kain lang ng kain, you’re eating for two!
Although it is important that the mommy-to-be stay healthy and happy, it is important to know that you DO NOT have to eat everything that you’re craving for. Eating for two does not mean eating twice the portions, but rather, eating food that will provide your baby with the nutrients needed to ensure it’s well-being. Unnecessary weight gain caused by overeating during pregnancy may not only make weight loss harder to achieve after delivery, but may cause problems during delivery as well. Therefore, it is best to be prudent with your food and liquid intake during pregnancy.
6. It's not safe if a pregnant mom takes a bath at night
According to old myths about taking a bath at night for a pregnant women, many says that it's not safe for them and for the baby itself. But in the field of science, it's really okay and safe for a pregnant mom to wash at night. Temperature has a big role on this pregnancy superstitions or pamahiin here in Philippines. When taking a bath (regardless its time like day or night) pregnant moms must set the water temperature to warm one. Pregnant woman who takes a bath with 101-102°F in 10 minutes are most likely to have hyperthermia. So, it's advisable for soon to be moms to use mild water.
Actually, taking a bath a night for a pregnant mom is good for their bodies. It helps them to freshen up after long tiring day with pains and aches all over the bodies.
7. "'Wag hakbangan ang buntis dahil malilipat ang paglilihi sa'yo."
In particular, 'paglilihi' is about craving for many specific foods. And in some cases, pregnant women always looking for a unusual or weird food combination. Like green mango with ketchup o chicharon with peanut butter. And yes, the combination of these foods are unusual but for pregnant moms, they really want it and you need to provide as quickly as you can.
Daddies, if you don't want to experience how the 'paglilihi in pregnant' works, "'wag mong hahakbangan si mommy kapag tulog." But according to science, this is not true. Because these unusual cravings for mom is because of the pregnancy hormones. And it's really normal.
In pregnancy, the senses of a mom-to-be is becoming more sensitive and powerful. That's why sometimes you noticed that many pregnant women doesn't like a particular smell like perfume or foods!
8. Don't eat leftover foods because you will be sleepy
There's this myth that if a pregnant mom going to eat leftover foods, they will fell sleepy all of the sudden. To debunk this, pregnant women are sensitive and may feel sleepy all the time. This is also because of the pressure on their body. So there's no basis for this myth that pregnant women will be sleepy if they're going to eat left over foods.
Pamahiin sa buntis | Image from Dreamstime
9. Don't take picture of a pregnant women
Someone says that if you will take a picture of a pregnant women, they will go under pressure on laboring and its difficult to give birth. But moms, it a myth. There's no facts and basis that pregnant mom will have a problem when giving birth if you will take pictures on them. The process of the labor is always on the pregnant mom or the medical side.
10. Cold water for pregnant mom is a big NO NO
Myth says that it's a big no no if a pregnant mom drinks a cold water. This is because cold water will increased the risk of diabetes of a child. But for science, drinking cold water for pregnant mom is a good choice if you want to feel the movements of your child inside your tummy. One study says that cold water helps your blood to circulate well, good metabolism and for the organ function.
But for pregnant women, it's okay to drink cold water but in moderation.
11. Don't dye your hair
This pamahiin for pregnant mom is quiet true. Toxics and chemicals in hair dye is bad for health of a pregnant woman as well as their babies on tummy. Dyeing hair and coloring nails are actually the same because of the ingredient of the product.
12. If you will wear necklace, the umbilical cord will wrap around into your baby's neck
According to old pregnancy superstitions in Philippines, if a pregnant mom is wearing a necklace there's a risk factor that the umbilical cord will wrap around to your baby's neck. But for science explanation, this episode is because of the random fetal movement of your baby. So there's no basis for this pamahiin sa buntis.
13. Don't give pressure on pregnant moms, the child will look weird
Myth says that if a pregnant mom has a lot of problems or everyone is pressuring her, the child inside the tummy will become a problematic one. But for science, there's no basis that the feelings of a mother will affect the physical appearance of a baby.
But for a healthy pregnancy journey, we must avoid pressuring moms because they are more sensitive compared to us.
14. Having an interest to unusual things, people, food or animal is what we call 'paglilihi'
Actually, this is the most well known pamahiin sa buntis. For this myth, pregnant moms must not give interest to animals, weird people or foods because it will adapt the features of the certain thing. While having pregnancy, don't put interest to weird people or things because there's a tendency that it will look like them!
But for science side, the feature or physical appearance of your baby is always based on you and father's genetics. Healthy lifestyle and good mental health have a big role in this episode.
15. Dark underarms means it's a boy
Old myth says that if a pregnant mom has a dark underarms, she most likely to have a baby boy. But is this true?
Skin discoloration is normal during pregnancy. An average of 90% pregnant women are experiencing this. This is normal and cause by their hormones. The best way to know what's the gender of your baby is through ultrasound.
16. Put salt and garlic beside your window
Besides from pregnancy myth or pamahiin sa buntis in Philippines, we also have folklore. Most commonly advised for pregnant women that if staying at home, they need to put a lot of salt and garlic beside the window. This is because there's a threat of 'aswang or tiktik' at night and might eat their baby.
But on the other side, there's no basis for this.
Pregnancy superstitions and pamahiin list in Philippines Image from Unsplash
17. Listening to music to a pregnant mom
Someone says that if I want my child to become a musically inclined, i must listen to different types of songs in my pregnancy journey. My child are most likely to become a musician, a singer or a composer. According to science, there's no basis for this theory. But listening to music is good to set up your mood for your baby and for your emotional health!
18. Don't go to someone's wake or funeral
Attending someone's wake or funeral for a pregnant mom is a danger for her baby. This myth says that your baby is at risk or most likely to to have a serious problem if you attend a funeral. Again, there's no basis for this myth or pamahiin in pregnancy. Keeping a good lifestyle is the most important thing to maintain your healthy pregnancy.
19. If your abdomen itches a lot, your baby will come out hairy
According to pamahiin sa buntis, if the abdomen of a pregnant mom itches a lot, her child will come out hairy. Actually, this myth is literally jus a myth. The science behind an itchy belly of a pregnant mom is because of the stretching and expanding skin of a mom. Making the dry skin to feel uncomfortable and itchy.
20. Eating ginger may cause extra finger to your child when they born
If a pregnant mom loves to eat ginger, her child may have an extra finger when they born. But actually this is because of Polydactyly. Its a condition where someone is born with one or more extra fingers or toes and may be passed down in families.
Supersitions or Pamahiin are not easy to shake-off or to ignore because they’ve been greatly ingrained into our culture, but the next time your tita or lola tells you to do something that doesn't seem to make sense, then fret not, politely hear them out and stay calm knowing that there may be a scientific explanation out there that will easily debunk it.