PHILIPPINE BELIEFS ON PREGNANCY
Philippine beliefs and superstitions throughout the various regions and countryside in the country have acquired in numbers. And even at urban abodes, where advance lifestyles and inhibited technology still talks about these customs. These beliefs have been handed down from ancestors aiming to prevent danger from happening or to make a person abstain from doing something in particular.
These notions are part of the Philippine culture, for one derives their beliefs from the influence of what their traditions, customs and culture have prescribed to explicate certain phenomena or just simply to put a scare to people. Some of these superstitions are practiced mainly because Filipinos believe there is nothing to lose if they abide with these beliefs.
I was inspired to write about superstitions and beliefs about pregnancy after reading the article “Food Cravings and other ‘Strange’ Changes in Pregnancy (and Why?), written by Bethany Marsh. The article was well-composed and detailed the condition of a woman as being pregnant. The cravings, weight gain, getting sick, the psychological burden and of course the hormones were all explained very well.
The following are some of the different Philippine beliefs on pregnancy.
It is a common saying here in the Philippines, that when a woman is pregnant her one foot is confine to a hospital while the other foot is bound ‘six-feet below the ground.’ This is an emphasis to the dangers of giving birth where the life of the mother and the baby is at stake.
At the first symptom of pregnancy, “morning sickness” is upfront, and the cravings start. This sound ‘strange’ but this is very true here. Have you ever seen an infant who profusely salivate? It is believed that when an expectant mother asks for a certain food but was denied; her child will salivate abundantly and will be prone to vomiting.
The most common food cravings here are green mangoes or raw mangoes, the sour the better with bagoong - a paste made from fish or small shrimps that are salted and fermented for several weeks. See picture below.
Green Mangoes and bagoong
“Naglilihi,” a Filipino word which describes the symptoms of early pregnancy, strange or too much liking or hate on food cravings or even a person, animals or even places. If a pregnant woman craves to eat too much “balut” - a fertilized duck embryo that's boiled alive and eaten in the shell – her child will becomes hairy.
If a kid sees another hairy kid, he may say that, “Pinaglihi ka sa balut” meaning your mother ate balut when she was pregnant. There are instances that when one kid have a face that resembles like a monkey, all his/her playmates will tease him, “Pinaglihi ka sa unggoy” – meaning her mother had a great liking on monkeys when she was pregnant or a kid with a wide spread legs like a frog, the same will be claim.
This is the reason why pregnant mothers are not allowed to go near to people, animals or things with ‘unpleasant look’ cause it is believe that the baby will inherits its figure.
A pregnant mother must finish all the food on her plate so that when she delivers all will come out.
Old folks submerged a comb in coconut milk to make the mother’s breast abundant with milk.
Partaking food with an expectant mother will result to sleepiness, drowsy or even sick.
Visitors are not allowed to stand-by or sit at threshold of the house by a pregnant woman will result to difficult delivery or long labor. Same as the windows and doors must be kept wide open for an easy delivery of the infant.
Pregnant mother are not allowed to cry for they will suffer hard delivery and the infant will turn to a crybaby.
An expectant mother is forbidden to eat shellfish which are slippery and the baby might be expelling out of the womb.
Pregnant woman are not allowed to view an eclipse, so that when the baby is born, it will not have the habit of winking the eyes incessantly.
The Philippine contains innumerable superstitions and beliefs on different factors such as health, on death, wedding, body marks and pregnancy. These are just a few.
Thanks Bethany Marsh.