Pregnant during the eclipse? Superstitions say it could harm the baby

Here's what the Aug. 21, 2017, solar eclipse will look like -- should the clouds stay away! -- across Florida. Courtesy: Larry Koehn

Just in case pregnant women don't have enough to worry about, there are some legends warning them of harm during an eclipse.

Aztecs believed a lunar eclipse was a result of a bite being taken out of the moon. This idea translated into the Mexican superstition that if a pregnant woman viewed an eclipse, a bite would be taken out of her unborn child's face. Hindu text credits the eclipse to the head of the demon Rahu, who ate the moon or sun.

Here are a few superstitions to know before the solar eclipse Aug. 21.

Do not go outside during the eclipse. It's believed pregnant women who are in the presence of the eclipse could cause their baby to have facial deformities or birth marks. While there isn’t a proven reason why women who are expecting shouldn’t go outside during the event, there is merit to not looking at the eclipse with bare eyes.

“Eclipse blindness” is a real thing. It’s never safe for anyone to view the sun for any length of time with a naked eye, because it could permanently damage the retina. (There are eclipse glasses that are certified as safe for viewing the eclipse. But, if you haven't bought glasses by now, you might not find a pair.) There are no proven eclipse-related health concerns specific to pregnant women or their babies. 

Don’t wear metal. Avoid wearing sari pins, hair pins and jewelry, AstroSage, an India-based astrology site advises. Superstitions say this might also cause facial birth defects.

Do wear metal, and red underwear. Yup, this one goes against the previous idea. Mexican superstitions say wearing a safety pin (traditionally, a woman might have held a knife close to her belly) and red underwear offers protection against a cleft palette. While the cause of a cleft palate is unknown, there have been no proven links to eclipses during pregnancy.

Do not use a knife or any sharp weapon to cut fruits and vegetables. Indian astrology warns this could cause the unborn baby to develop a cleft organ, also not proven.

Lie straight in bed. Shafia Bhutto, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Mercy Hospital in St. Louis, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch women in Pakistan might be told this to prevent a baby from developing crooked joints. "There is nothing that will happen to your unborn baby during an eclipse because they are in your uterus,” Bhutto told the Dispatch.

Pray, fast and bathe. In India, some women are advised to bath before and after the eclipse and partake in other religious routines to ward off bad omens associated with the eclipse.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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