Recently, the Washington Post featured a hilarious article warning prospective parents about the dangers of birthing in the year of the sheep. Babies born between 2/19/15 and 2/7/16 will, according to Chinese astrology, be more mellow in nature, kind , generous, but also be door mats. These poor souls will be followers (like sheep) and only have a 10% chance at a happy life. Although this article made me laugh, it is quite a serious dilemma for some, to the extent that the Chinese government has launched a public service campaign to allay parent’s fears and halt a possible rise in abortions.
I grew up in a conservative Jewish home and was always warned about baby showers. We simply don’t do them because they were considered bad luck. This completely confounded a friend of mine from the Dominican Republic (don’t you need the stuff, don’t you want to celebrate?). However, another friend, who is from Cambodia, completely agreed that it was, indeed, bad luck. This made me think of the plentiful superstitions related to pregnancy and conception. As ridiculous as they may sound, superstitions allow us a sense of control over a chaotic world. That is why no matter how rational we are or how highly educated we are, many of us will follow them to some extent. This is not a bad idea.
Researchers have found that superstitions may actually enhance performance. Our fellow blogger writes about that here. Conceiving a child and a healthy pregnancy aren’t actually things you “perform” at although you could certainly come up with a few jokes about that! The researchers believe that the component of superstations that leads to success is an enhanced sense of self-efficacy or belief that one is capable. This belief gives one confidence, and confidence is calming. Although there is no strong research to refute or support the impact of a calm mind on conception or pregnancy outcomes, anecdotally, I believe it can improve outcomes. Clinically, I know confidence and calmness feel good and improve people’s mood. Improved mood is related to increased conception rates and certainly makes pregnancy and birth more bearable and parenting easier. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by eating pineapple core, making love on red sheets, or foregoing the baby shower.
Below is a list of conception and pregnancy superstitions. For full disclosure, this was, by no means, an exhaustive academic search. You may relate to some; you may laugh hysterically at others. Heck, you may laugh at yourself for following them. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you feel good!
Are you superstitious? What superstitions do you follow?