21/08/2017 13:16 SAST | Updated 21/08/2017 13:53 SAST

Bad Spirits: Here's 7 Traditional African Beliefs About Pregnancy

Women used to rely on their mothers and grandmothers for advice.


Are you carrying your baby lower, didn't suffer from morning sickness, have acne and your complexion has changed? Then you're definitely carrying a boy. If it's a girl, best believe you will carry your baby higher, have bad morning sickness in the first trimester, but later have that 'pregnancy glow.'

Or so go old wives' tales about pregnancy and the gender of one's baby.

While some people have dismissed these beliefs, myths or superstitions as outlandish, some people still believe them.

This is not surprising as before modern medicine, expectant mothers relied on the wisdom of their mothers and grandmothers on all things pregnancy.

Chief amongst the pieces of advice was how to protect one's baby from bad spirits, during and after pregnancy. Advice that some take to heart even today.

We've rounded up seven of these beliefs:

1. Don't reveal a pregnancy too early
It's believed that when you announce a pregnancy before the first few months are through, your enemies may bewitch you or cast a curse on you. As a result, this might harm the baby, the mother or both.

2. Don't accept gifts before the birth of a child
Some unhappy people may offer you and your baby a cursed gift. Further, accepting gifts and celebrating the birth of a baby before it's born may invite the anger of the gods or the ancestors, who may curse the pregnant mother and her baby with death, illness or bad luck.

3. Don't just let anyone rub on your growing belly
They may be transferring bad spirits to you or the baby. In fact, some religions believe that you should not allow anyone to 'lay hands' on you period, as you do not know what kind of spirits they may be carrying.

4. Don't let anyone (except for very close family or people you trust) see the baby before the first three months
New mothers are also advised to not leave the house with the baby before the first three months. Bad spirits may be brought in or you may meet them on your way out.

5. Don't attend a funeral or worse, look at the deceased while pregnant
Death carries a connotation of negative and bad things. Attending a funeral or looking at the deceased may pass on the 'death spirit' to you or your unborn baby.

6. If you are considering a babymoon, perhaps avoid the ocean, rivers or lakes
That's because of the belief that evil and jealous forces inhabit large bodies of water and may want to steal the spirit of unborn babies.

7. As soon as you find out you are pregnant, throughout your pregnancy and after your baby is born - pray
Pray to God to protect your child against any evil spirits. It is believed that prayer is enough to ward off any bad spirits.