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Study on Superstitions Related to Pregnancy

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Background: During pregnancy, there are many superstitions throughout the world, especially in the developing countries like Bangladesh. Objective: This study was aimed to know the status of superstitions related to pregnancy among people. Methodology: This descriptive type of cross-sectional study was conducted in the outpatient of department in Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh from January 2018 to March 2018 for a period of three months. Total 96 persons were recruited after taking verbal consent. Result: Among the study group having at least one superstition was in 69.8% of total participants showing in figure 1. In 25 to 40 years of age group the superstitions were more common and it was 85.0% showing in table1. On the educational background, illiterate group having more superstitions 81.13%, primary education group 65.21%, SSC 50% and above SSC 33.33% showing in table 3. On the basis of gender, male (58.233%) and Female (71.42%) were superstitious in at least one superstition. On the basis of socioeconomic status, lower class 92.72%, lower middle class 54.54% and middle class 21.05% were superstitious in at least one superstition. On the basis of occupation, housewives (89.90%), students (16,66%), service holder(30%) and farmer(50%) having at least one superstitious. On the basis of religion; the superstitious individuals were Muslim 59%, Hindu 97%, and others 67.16%. Conclusion: Superstitions related to pregnancy are very common in Bangladesh. Superstitious are more related to illiteracy, low socioeconomic condition and with house wives who remain inside. Journal of National Institute of Neurosciences Bangladesh, 2019;5(2): 172-176
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Study on Superstitions Related to Pregnancy
Abstract
Background: During pregnancy, there are many superstitions throughout the world, especially in the
developing countries like Bangladesh. Objective: This study was aimed to know the status of superstitions
related to pregnancy among people. Methodology: This descriptive type of cross-sectional study was
conducted in the outpatient of department in Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh from January
2018 to March 2018 for a period of three months. Total 96 persons were recruited after taking verbal consent.
Result: Among the study group having at least one superstition was in 69.8% of total participants showing in
figure 1. In 25 to 40 years of age group the superstitions were more common and it was 85.0% showing in
table1. On the educational background, illiterate group having more superstitions 81.13%, primary education
group 65.21%, SSC 50% and above SSC 33.33% showing in table 3. On the basis of gender, male
(58.233%) and Female (71.42%) were superstitious in at least one superstition. On the basis of
socioeconomic status, lower class 92.72%, lower middle class 54.54% and middle class 21.05% were
superstitious in at least one superstition. On the basis of occupation, housewives (89.90%), students
(16,66%), service holder(30%) and farmer(50%) having at least one superstitious. On the basis of religion;
the superstitious individuals were Muslim 59%, Hindu 97%, and others 67.16%. Conclusion: Superstitions
related to pregnancy are very common in Bangladesh. Superstitious are more related to illiteracy, low
socioeconomic condition and with house wives who remain inside. [Journal of National Institute of
Neurosciences Bangladesh, 2019;5(2): 172-176 ]
Keywords: Nutrition; pregnant women; food taboos; traditional beliefs
Correspondence: Major Zinia Sultana, Classified Specialist, Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Combined Military Hospital,
Dhaka, Bangladesh; Mailing Address: 152/3, Staff Road, Dhaka Cantonment, Dhaka-1206; Email: drzinia.sultana@gmail.com; Cell
no.: +8801768874141;
Conflict of interest: There is no conflict of interest relevant to this paper to disclose.
Funding agency: This research project was not funded by any group or any institution.
Contribution to authors: Sultana Z, Chowdhury L have contributed from the protocol preparation, data collection up to report
writing. Manuscript writing was performed by Sultana Z. Statistical analysis was performed by Sultana Z. Sultana Z, Chowdhury L,
Shapla NZ have involved in revision of manuscript.
How to cite this article: Sultana Z, Chowdhury L, Shapla NZ. Study on Superstitions Related to Pregnancy. J Natl Inst Neurosci
Bangladesh, 2019;5(2): 172-176
Copyright: ©2019. Sultana et al. Published by Journal of National Institute of Neurosciences Bangladesh. This article is published
under the Creative Commons CC BY-NC License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). This license permits use,
distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not used for commercial purposes.
Zinia Sultana1, Liza Chowdhury2, Nahid Reaz Shapla3
Original Article
172
Introduction
Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from
ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance,
or a false conception of causation. An irrational abject
attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God
resulting from superstition
1
.
The development in science and technology has helped
us to overcome the superstitions associated with
pregnancy, still many of us follow them even though we
realize that these lack scientific evidence. As in many
other things in life, numerous traditions have been
created. They often have nothing with science. They are
usually prejudices that become part of a local culture.
Traditional beliefs and attitudes influence women’s
health. Even when women have access to appropriate
healthcare, they often prefer home/community based
care
1
. Women’s overall health and nutritional status,
pregnancy outcomes and other reproductive health
problems are considered to be the major biological
causes of maternal mortality; therefore, the overall
nutritional status of a pregnant woman is principally
determined by the feeding practices and care facilities
available to her
2
. During pregnancy mothers have to stay
in a vulnerable position. They always remain in fear
about their coming babies and anticipate the worse.
Sometimes when babies are born with physical defect,
mothers tend to think that they did something wrong
previously and it is for punishment. For these reasons
mothers become superstitious
3
.
Forms of superstitions become different with religions,
geography and time. There are many traditional beliefs
and also some religious habits related to pregnancy.
Some of these beliefs like restricted diet and traditional
religious modes of treatment put the mother and child
health in risk. There are various types of superstitions
related to pregnancy in our country. Sometimes people
believe pregnant mothers should not eat sufficient as
necessary for growth of the baby, some elderly women
believe taking nutritious food during pregnancy causes
big baby and create problems during normal delivery.
The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and its
implication on pregnancy outcome and subsequent
maternal and fetal health is well established. Pregnancy
demands additional nutrition requirements, and
pre-pregnancy counselling on dietary requirement during
pregnancy is an essential component of good prenatal
care
3
. A food taboo is a prohibition of certain foods
during pregnancy and lactation. Unfortunately, the
traditional beliefs or food myths are widely practiced.
Evidences have shown that the majority of women
adhere to traditional beliefs in their eating habits during
pregnancy and lactation
4
. As a result mother takes
inadequate food, so baby born under-weight. Some
dietary habit is the modern equivalent of a superstition. If
something bad happens then they blame it on that one
pineapple or papaya ate, but in reality it may be nothing
more than a coincidence
1
. Sometimes women believe
that the pregnant woman should not cut anything during
solar eclipse. If they do, there is every possibility of
having an abnormal baby and it is nothing but a wrong
belief
5
.
Expectant mothers from Mexico and parts of Latin
America frequently wear bright red panties with a safety
pin, seems to those tribes believed that the eclipse
released energy that could cause birth defects
6
. A Maisin
woman from Papua New Guinea whose baby was born
with cord around its neck may then remember having
walked through a spider’s web during her pregnancy
3,5
.
In Indonesia, pregnant women not to sit in door entrance
because they belief baby may find it difficult to come
out
6
. Thai women eat lotus buds which have been
chanted over by a Buddhist monk so that their bodies
will open up like a lotus flower and they will give birth
easily
5
. Sometimes superstitions may actually be
beneficial as research support the idea that a mother’s
emotion can affect baby’s condition in the uterus. In
Thailand it is believed that every sound, sight, touch,
taste, smell, thought and action experienced by mother
will have some effect on the child
6
. Nigerian mothers are
encouraged to avoid places where people fight and
quarrel so that the ensuing baby becomes peace loving
7
.
Sometimes pregnant women wear band around their
umbilicus with firm belief that baby cannot go upward
and normal delivery will be easier and smooth
5
. This
present study was undertaken to know the status of
superstitions related to pregnancy among people.
Methodology
This was a descriptive type of cross sectional study, in
which persons were selected on random basis from
January 2018 to March 2018 in outpatient department
of CMH Dhaka. There were no ethical problems, as
before interview verbal consent was taken. Cases were
selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Relevant information were taken according to
questionnaire. Common superstitions in different
aspects of daily activities in the country were related to
food supplements, routine physical cheek up of mother,
maternal daily activities and mode of delivery, Solar
eclipse, Traditional religious treatment. Though the
study was performed in CMH Dhaka it actually reflects
the condition of whole population of Bangladesh.
People of various area of the country visit for ANC in
Gynae OPD of CMH Dhaka. All pregnant women and
person having at least a child within 2 years in family
included in this study.
Results
A total number of 96 persons were recruited. In this
study the number of participants having at least one
superstition was 67 which was 69.79% of total
participants (Figure I).
Superstitions were more among 25 to 40 years age
group, which was 85% cases (Table 1).
Female were more superstitious than male which was
71.42% and 58.33% respectively (Table 2).
Illiterate persons were more superstitious (81.130) than
primary, secondary and higher secondary educated
group which were 65.21%, 50% and 33.33%
respectively (Table 3).
Lower class were more superstitious than
economically solvent group. Lower class, lower
middle class and middle class were superstitious
92.72%, 54.54% and 21.05% respectively (Table 4).
Superstitions were more in housewives, about 89.90%
than others population like student, farmer and service
holder were 16.7%, 50% and 30% respectively (Table 5).
Superstitions were more common in Hindu religion,
about 89% than Muslim and others which were 50%
cases and 66.16% cases respectively (Table 6).
Number of persons with individual superstitions were
recorded (Table 7).
Discussion
On the study several factors were found to be the
influencing for prevailing superstitions. Those ware
poor socioeconomic condition, illiteracy, lack of
maternal and child health care knowledge, occupational
limitation.
Bangladesh is the 9th most populous country in the
world. It has higher birth rates as compared to
developed countries
7
. Every couple wants a safe
delivery & a healthy baby. Findings revealed that some
traditional customs particularly those relating to safety
of the mother and baby during perinatal period were
adhered to bangali families. We reports common myths
prevalent during pregnancy and after delivery. There
was no scientific basis behind the myths and even they
may cause injury to mother or baby.
Educational and socioeconomic status were the most
important factors to cause variation in the response
from participants regarding superstitions. Among
illiterate people percentage of superstitions is 81.13%
while in people with education level more than SSC it
is only 33.33%. Among the participants having
educational level below primary education and above
primary education the percentage of superstition is
65.21% and 50% respectively. So education was an
influencing factor which had a direct effect on
percentage of superstitions. Education level among
study population was range from illiterate to post
graduate. The illiterate women followed the myth more
commonly than educated women. Possibly it was
because of better knowledge of science and less beliefs
on myths in educated mothers.
Ekwochi et al noted a relationship between traditional
post-partum practices and demographic characteristics
of woman such as age, educational status, age at
marriage and birth place
8
. Epidemiological studies
from developing countries highlight that imbalance
diets negatively affect fetoplacental growth and
long-term consequences on offsprin
7-8
. This combined
effect of under-nourishment and negative food practice
added more impact on maternal health in these
countries. The adverse fetal outcome as a result of poor
maternal nutrition was the leading causes of neonatal
death excluding congenital anomalies in developing
countries
9
. Introducing proper nutritional programs and
adequate antenatal care will save lives of many mothers
and children in developing countries.
Among people with lower class socioeconomic status
the superstition percentage was 92.72% while among
people with middle class the percentage was 21.1%. In
between these two the lower middle class having the
percentage of 54.54% proved that the percentage of
superstition has direct relationship to poverty. Women
of rural background had higher prevalence than urban
women. Possible reasons were low education, poor
socio-economic status and lack of awareness about
health facilities.
Another factor was occupation of the participants.
Those who were to spend their life solely inside the
house like house wives have more superstitions than
those who were to go outside the house at least for the
sake of occupation like service holder, student etc.
Percentage of superstition among house-wife,
service-holder, and student is 89.90%, 30%, and
16.66% respectively. There were also differences of
superstitions percentages on the basis of age and
gender difference as evidenced by the superstitions
percentages 57.14%, 85%, 73.17% and 58.33%,
71.42% among the <25years, 25 to 40 years and >40
years age groups and male, female gender groups
respectively. Study revealed that there was a significant
association between women endorsed prohibiting of
foods were younger age group, low level of education,
living in rural areas and had inadequate antenatal care.
Similarly, a community-based study conducted in Saki
East Local Government of Oyo state, Nigeria, authors
found that food taboos significantly associated with
teenage, primigravida, lack of formal education, and
low-income family
10
. Similar results of association
were obtained by Zerfu et al. In many African
countries, there were an urban rural disparity in health
services. Failure to deliver essential medical and social
services in rural areas may be a significant predictor of
many health problems in developing countries
including food taboos
11
.
Conclusion
Superstitions related to pregnancy are very common in
Bangladesh. In this study the superstitions were more
among illiterate, low socioeconomic status and in the
Hindu religion. The impact of superstitions is a great
health hazard in developing country like Bangladesh.
Poverty and illiteracy were two major factor behind the
generation and proliferation of superstitions.
References
1. Zahid H, Absar C. Caritas battles pregnancy superstitions in
Bangladesh. Web site:
https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2010/08/1
1/caritas-battles-pregnancy-superstitions&post_id=61644
2. Tietjen AM. Infant care and feeding practices and the beginnings
of socialization among the Maisin of Papua new Guinea Ecology
of food & nutrition.1984; 15(4): 39-78
3. Kunna A, abdelgadir Shaaeldin M, Alsammani MA.
Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional Customs among Ladies
Attending the Antenatal Clinic at Omdurman Maternity Hospital
(OMH), Omdurman, Sudan. Annals of Medical and Health
Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4) 41-56
4. Wang XL, Wang Y, Zhou SZ. Puerperal practice pattern in a
rural area of north China. Beijing Da Xue Xue Bao.
2007 Apr 18; 39:140-144
5. Vasilevski V, Carolan-Olah M. Food taboos and nutrition-related
pregnancy concerns among Ethiopian women. J Clin Nurs. 2016;
20(2):3069-3075
6. Ahmed S, Abdullahi H, Adam I. Practice of pica among
pregnant women in Khartoum. Sudan. Int J Gynaecol Obstet.
2012; 11(8):71-72
7. Grieger JA, Clifton VL. A review of the impact of dietary
intakes in human pregnancy on infant birth weight. Nutrients.
2014; 29(7):153-178
8. Hossain B, Sarwar T, Reja S , Akhter MN . Nutritional Status of
Pregnant Women in Selected Rural and Urban Area of Bangladesh.
Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.2013;03(1)4-16
9. Ekwochi U, Osuorah CD, Ndu IK, Ifediora C, Asinobi IN, Eke
CB. Food taboos and myths in South Eastern Nigeria: The belief
and practice of mothers in the region. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016;
27(12):17-31
10. Oluwafolahan OS, Catherine AB, Olubukunola AJ. Dietary
habits of pregnant women in Ogun-East Senatorial Zone, Ogun
State, Nigeria: A comparative study. International Journal of
Nutrition and Metabolism. 2014;6(4):42-94
11. Abubakar A, Holding P, Mwangome M. Maternal perceptions
of factors contributing to severe under- nutrition among children in
a rural African setting. Rural Remote Health survey and Research
2011; 5(4):14-25
12. Zefru A, Umetand M, Baye k. Dietary habits, food taboos, and
perceptions towards weight gain during pregnancy in Arsi, rural
central Ethiopia. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition.2016;
22(4):22-35
13. Sumeya A, Abdelillah K, limia S, Mohamed abdelgadir S,
Mohamed Alkhatim A. Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional
Customs among Ladies Attending the Antenatal Clinic at
Omdurman Maternity Hospital (OMH), Omdurman, Sudan Annals
of Medical and Health Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4): 45-47
Journal of National Institute of Neurosciences Bangladesh,
July 2019, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp. 172-176
http://www.banglajol.info/index.php/JNINB
1Classified Specialist, Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka,
Bangladesh; 2Professor & Head, Department Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Combined Military
Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh; 3Classified Specialist, Department of Gynaecology &
Obstetrics, Combined Military Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh
[Received: 12 Januray 2019; Accepted: 12 May 2019; Published: 1 July 2019]
ISSN (Print) 2410-8030
ISSN (Online) 2518-6612
DOI: https://doi.org/10.3329/jninb.v5i2.43025
Study on Superstitions Related to Pregnancy Sultana et al
173
Introduction
Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from
ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance,
or a false conception of causation. An irrational abject
attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God
resulting from superstition
1
.
The development in science and technology has helped
us to overcome the superstitions associated with
pregnancy, still many of us follow them even though we
realize that these lack scientific evidence. As in many
other things in life, numerous traditions have been
created. They often have nothing with science. They are
usually prejudices that become part of a local culture.
Traditional beliefs and attitudes influence women’s
health. Even when women have access to appropriate
healthcare, they often prefer home/community based
care
1
. Women’s overall health and nutritional status,
pregnancy outcomes and other reproductive health
problems are considered to be the major biological
causes of maternal mortality; therefore, the overall
nutritional status of a pregnant woman is principally
determined by the feeding practices and care facilities
available to her
2
. During pregnancy mothers have to stay
in a vulnerable position. They always remain in fear
about their coming babies and anticipate the worse.
Sometimes when babies are born with physical defect,
mothers tend to think that they did something wrong
previously and it is for punishment. For these reasons
mothers become superstitious
3
.
Forms of superstitions become different with religions,
geography and time. There are many traditional beliefs
and also some religious habits related to pregnancy.
Some of these beliefs like restricted diet and traditional
religious modes of treatment put the mother and child
health in risk. There are various types of superstitions
related to pregnancy in our country. Sometimes people
believe pregnant mothers should not eat sufficient as
necessary for growth of the baby, some elderly women
believe taking nutritious food during pregnancy causes
big baby and create problems during normal delivery.
The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and its
implication on pregnancy outcome and subsequent
maternal and fetal health is well established. Pregnancy
demands additional nutrition requirements, and
pre-pregnancy counselling on dietary requirement during
pregnancy is an essential component of good prenatal
care
3
. A food taboo is a prohibition of certain foods
during pregnancy and lactation. Unfortunately, the
traditional beliefs or food myths are widely practiced.
Evidences have shown that the majority of women
adhere to traditional beliefs in their eating habits during
pregnancy and lactation
4
. As a result mother takes
inadequate food, so baby born under-weight. Some
dietary habit is the modern equivalent of a superstition. If
something bad happens then they blame it on that one
pineapple or papaya ate, but in reality it may be nothing
more than a coincidence
1
. Sometimes women believe
that the pregnant woman should not cut anything during
solar eclipse. If they do, there is every possibility of
having an abnormal baby and it is nothing but a wrong
belief
5
.
Expectant mothers from Mexico and parts of Latin
America frequently wear bright red panties with a safety
pin, seems to those tribes believed that the eclipse
released energy that could cause birth defects
6
. A Maisin
woman from Papua New Guinea whose baby was born
with cord around its neck may then remember having
walked through a spider’s web during her pregnancy
3,5
.
In Indonesia, pregnant women not to sit in door entrance
because they belief baby may find it difficult to come
out
6
. Thai women eat lotus buds which have been
chanted over by a Buddhist monk so that their bodies
will open up like a lotus flower and they will give birth
easily
5
. Sometimes superstitions may actually be
beneficial as research support the idea that a mother’s
emotion can affect baby’s condition in the uterus. In
Thailand it is believed that every sound, sight, touch,
taste, smell, thought and action experienced by mother
will have some effect on the child
6
. Nigerian mothers are
encouraged to avoid places where people fight and
quarrel so that the ensuing baby becomes peace loving
7
.
Sometimes pregnant women wear band around their
umbilicus with firm belief that baby cannot go upward
and normal delivery will be easier and smooth
5
. This
present study was undertaken to know the status of
superstitions related to pregnancy among people.
Methodology
This was a descriptive type of cross sectional study, in
which persons were selected on random basis from
January 2018 to March 2018 in outpatient department
of CMH Dhaka. There were no ethical problems, as
before interview verbal consent was taken. Cases were
selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Relevant information were taken according to
questionnaire. Common superstitions in different
aspects of daily activities in the country were related to
food supplements, routine physical cheek up of mother,
maternal daily activities and mode of delivery, Solar
eclipse, Traditional religious treatment. Though the
study was performed in CMH Dhaka it actually reflects
the condition of whole population of Bangladesh.
People of various area of the country visit for ANC in
Gynae OPD of CMH Dhaka. All pregnant women and
person having at least a child within 2 years in family
included in this study.
Results
A total number of 96 persons were recruited. In this
study the number of participants having at least one
superstition was 67 which was 69.79% of total
participants (Figure I).
Superstitions were more among 25 to 40 years age
group, which was 85% cases (Table 1).
Female were more superstitious than male which was
71.42% and 58.33% respectively (Table 2).
Illiterate persons were more superstitious (81.130) than
primary, secondary and higher secondary educated
group which were 65.21%, 50% and 33.33%
respectively (Table 3).
Lower class were more superstitious than
economically solvent group. Lower class, lower
middle class and middle class were superstitious
92.72%, 54.54% and 21.05% respectively (Table 4).
Superstitions were more in housewives, about 89.90%
than others population like student, farmer and service
holder were 16.7%, 50% and 30% respectively (Table 5).
Superstitions were more common in Hindu religion,
about 89% than Muslim and others which were 50%
cases and 66.16% cases respectively (Table 6).
Number of persons with individual superstitions were
recorded (Table 7).
Discussion
On the study several factors were found to be the
influencing for prevailing superstitions. Those ware
poor socioeconomic condition, illiteracy, lack of
maternal and child health care knowledge, occupational
limitation.
Bangladesh is the 9th most populous country in the
world. It has higher birth rates as compared to
developed countries
7
. Every couple wants a safe
delivery & a healthy baby. Findings revealed that some
traditional customs particularly those relating to safety
of the mother and baby during perinatal period were
adhered to bangali families. We reports common myths
prevalent during pregnancy and after delivery. There
was no scientific basis behind the myths and even they
may cause injury to mother or baby.
Educational and socioeconomic status were the most
important factors to cause variation in the response
from participants regarding superstitions. Among
illiterate people percentage of superstitions is 81.13%
while in people with education level more than SSC it
is only 33.33%. Among the participants having
educational level below primary education and above
primary education the percentage of superstition is
65.21% and 50% respectively. So education was an
influencing factor which had a direct effect on
percentage of superstitions. Education level among
study population was range from illiterate to post
graduate. The illiterate women followed the myth more
commonly than educated women. Possibly it was
because of better knowledge of science and less beliefs
on myths in educated mothers.
Ekwochi et al noted a relationship between traditional
post-partum practices and demographic characteristics
of woman such as age, educational status, age at
marriage and birth place
8
. Epidemiological studies
from developing countries highlight that imbalance
diets negatively affect fetoplacental growth and
long-term consequences on offsprin
7-8
. This combined
effect of under-nourishment and negative food practice
added more impact on maternal health in these
countries. The adverse fetal outcome as a result of poor
maternal nutrition was the leading causes of neonatal
death excluding congenital anomalies in developing
countries
9
. Introducing proper nutritional programs and
adequate antenatal care will save lives of many mothers
and children in developing countries.
Among people with lower class socioeconomic status
the superstition percentage was 92.72% while among
people with middle class the percentage was 21.1%. In
between these two the lower middle class having the
percentage of 54.54% proved that the percentage of
superstition has direct relationship to poverty. Women
of rural background had higher prevalence than urban
women. Possible reasons were low education, poor
socio-economic status and lack of awareness about
health facilities.
Another factor was occupation of the participants.
Those who were to spend their life solely inside the
house like house wives have more superstitions than
those who were to go outside the house at least for the
sake of occupation like service holder, student etc.
Percentage of superstition among house-wife,
service-holder, and student is 89.90%, 30%, and
16.66% respectively. There were also differences of
superstitions percentages on the basis of age and
gender difference as evidenced by the superstitions
percentages 57.14%, 85%, 73.17% and 58.33%,
71.42% among the <25years, 25 to 40 years and >40
years age groups and male, female gender groups
respectively. Study revealed that there was a significant
association between women endorsed prohibiting of
foods were younger age group, low level of education,
living in rural areas and had inadequate antenatal care.
Similarly, a community-based study conducted in Saki
East Local Government of Oyo state, Nigeria, authors
found that food taboos significantly associated with
teenage, primigravida, lack of formal education, and
low-income family
10
. Similar results of association
were obtained by Zerfu et al. In many African
countries, there were an urban rural disparity in health
services. Failure to deliver essential medical and social
services in rural areas may be a significant predictor of
many health problems in developing countries
including food taboos
11
.
Conclusion
Superstitions related to pregnancy are very common in
Bangladesh. In this study the superstitions were more
among illiterate, low socioeconomic status and in the
Hindu religion. The impact of superstitions is a great
health hazard in developing country like Bangladesh.
Poverty and illiteracy were two major factor behind the
generation and proliferation of superstitions.
References
1. Zahid H, Absar C. Caritas battles pregnancy superstitions in
Bangladesh. Web site:
https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2010/08/1
1/caritas-battles-pregnancy-superstitions&post_id=61644
2. Tietjen AM. Infant care and feeding practices and the beginnings
of socialization among the Maisin of Papua new Guinea Ecology
of food & nutrition.1984; 15(4): 39-78
3. Kunna A, abdelgadir Shaaeldin M, Alsammani MA.
Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional Customs among Ladies
Attending the Antenatal Clinic at Omdurman Maternity Hospital
(OMH), Omdurman, Sudan. Annals of Medical and Health
Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4) 41-56
4. Wang XL, Wang Y, Zhou SZ. Puerperal practice pattern in a
rural area of north China. Beijing Da Xue Xue Bao.
2007 Apr 18; 39:140-144
5. Vasilevski V, Carolan-Olah M. Food taboos and nutrition-related
pregnancy concerns among Ethiopian women. J Clin Nurs. 2016;
20(2):3069-3075
6. Ahmed S, Abdullahi H, Adam I. Practice of pica among
pregnant women in Khartoum. Sudan. Int J Gynaecol Obstet.
2012; 11(8):71-72
7. Grieger JA, Clifton VL. A review of the impact of dietary
intakes in human pregnancy on infant birth weight. Nutrients.
2014; 29(7):153-178
8. Hossain B, Sarwar T, Reja S , Akhter MN . Nutritional Status of
Pregnant Women in Selected Rural and Urban Area of Bangladesh.
Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.2013;03(1)4-16
9. Ekwochi U, Osuorah CD, Ndu IK, Ifediora C, Asinobi IN, Eke
CB. Food taboos and myths in South Eastern Nigeria: The belief
and practice of mothers in the region. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016;
27(12):17-31
10. Oluwafolahan OS, Catherine AB, Olubukunola AJ. Dietary
habits of pregnant women in Ogun-East Senatorial Zone, Ogun
State, Nigeria: A comparative study. International Journal of
Nutrition and Metabolism. 2014;6(4):42-94
11. Abubakar A, Holding P, Mwangome M. Maternal perceptions
of factors contributing to severe under- nutrition among children in
a rural African setting. Rural Remote Health survey and Research
2011; 5(4):14-25
12. Zefru A, Umetand M, Baye k. Dietary habits, food taboos, and
perceptions towards weight gain during pregnancy in Arsi, rural
central Ethiopia. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition.2016;
22(4):22-35
13. Sumeya A, Abdelillah K, limia S, Mohamed abdelgadir S,
Mohamed Alkhatim A. Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional
Customs among Ladies Attending the Antenatal Clinic at
Omdurman Maternity Hospital (OMH), Omdurman, Sudan Annals
of Medical and Health Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4): 45-47
Figure I: Number of perticipants having at least one superstition
Journal of National Institute of Neurosciences Bangladesh Vol.5 No.2, July 2019
174
Introduction
Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from
ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance,
or a false conception of causation. An irrational abject
attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God
resulting from superstition
1
.
The development in science and technology has helped
us to overcome the superstitions associated with
pregnancy, still many of us follow them even though we
realize that these lack scientific evidence. As in many
other things in life, numerous traditions have been
created. They often have nothing with science. They are
usually prejudices that become part of a local culture.
Traditional beliefs and attitudes influence women’s
health. Even when women have access to appropriate
healthcare, they often prefer home/community based
care
1
. Women’s overall health and nutritional status,
pregnancy outcomes and other reproductive health
problems are considered to be the major biological
causes of maternal mortality; therefore, the overall
nutritional status of a pregnant woman is principally
determined by the feeding practices and care facilities
available to her
2
. During pregnancy mothers have to stay
in a vulnerable position. They always remain in fear
about their coming babies and anticipate the worse.
Sometimes when babies are born with physical defect,
mothers tend to think that they did something wrong
previously and it is for punishment. For these reasons
mothers become superstitious
3
.
Forms of superstitions become different with religions,
geography and time. There are many traditional beliefs
and also some religious habits related to pregnancy.
Some of these beliefs like restricted diet and traditional
religious modes of treatment put the mother and child
health in risk. There are various types of superstitions
related to pregnancy in our country. Sometimes people
believe pregnant mothers should not eat sufficient as
necessary for growth of the baby, some elderly women
believe taking nutritious food during pregnancy causes
big baby and create problems during normal delivery.
The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and its
implication on pregnancy outcome and subsequent
maternal and fetal health is well established. Pregnancy
demands additional nutrition requirements, and
pre-pregnancy counselling on dietary requirement during
pregnancy is an essential component of good prenatal
care
3
. A food taboo is a prohibition of certain foods
during pregnancy and lactation. Unfortunately, the
traditional beliefs or food myths are widely practiced.
Evidences have shown that the majority of women
adhere to traditional beliefs in their eating habits during
pregnancy and lactation
4
. As a result mother takes
inadequate food, so baby born under-weight. Some
dietary habit is the modern equivalent of a superstition. If
something bad happens then they blame it on that one
pineapple or papaya ate, but in reality it may be nothing
more than a coincidence
1
. Sometimes women believe
that the pregnant woman should not cut anything during
solar eclipse. If they do, there is every possibility of
having an abnormal baby and it is nothing but a wrong
belief
5
.
Expectant mothers from Mexico and parts of Latin
America frequently wear bright red panties with a safety
pin, seems to those tribes believed that the eclipse
released energy that could cause birth defects
6
. A Maisin
woman from Papua New Guinea whose baby was born
with cord around its neck may then remember having
walked through a spider’s web during her pregnancy
3,5
.
In Indonesia, pregnant women not to sit in door entrance
because they belief baby may find it difficult to come
out
6
. Thai women eat lotus buds which have been
chanted over by a Buddhist monk so that their bodies
will open up like a lotus flower and they will give birth
easily
5
. Sometimes superstitions may actually be
beneficial as research support the idea that a mother’s
emotion can affect baby’s condition in the uterus. In
Thailand it is believed that every sound, sight, touch,
taste, smell, thought and action experienced by mother
will have some effect on the child
6
. Nigerian mothers are
encouraged to avoid places where people fight and
quarrel so that the ensuing baby becomes peace loving
7
.
Sometimes pregnant women wear band around their
umbilicus with firm belief that baby cannot go upward
and normal delivery will be easier and smooth
5
. This
present study was undertaken to know the status of
superstitions related to pregnancy among people.
Methodology
This was a descriptive type of cross sectional study, in
which persons were selected on random basis from
January 2018 to March 2018 in outpatient department
of CMH Dhaka. There were no ethical problems, as
before interview verbal consent was taken. Cases were
selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Relevant information were taken according to
questionnaire. Common superstitions in different
aspects of daily activities in the country were related to
food supplements, routine physical cheek up of mother,
maternal daily activities and mode of delivery, Solar
eclipse, Traditional religious treatment. Though the
study was performed in CMH Dhaka it actually reflects
the condition of whole population of Bangladesh.
People of various area of the country visit for ANC in
Gynae OPD of CMH Dhaka. All pregnant women and
person having at least a child within 2 years in family
included in this study.
Results
A total number of 96 persons were recruited. In this
study the number of participants having at least one
superstition was 67 which was 69.79% of total
participants (Figure I).
Superstitions were more among 25 to 40 years age
group, which was 85% cases (Table 1).
Female were more superstitious than male which was
71.42% and 58.33% respectively (Table 2).
Illiterate persons were more superstitious (81.130) than
primary, secondary and higher secondary educated
group which were 65.21%, 50% and 33.33%
respectively (Table 3).
Lower class were more superstitious than
economically solvent group. Lower class, lower
middle class and middle class were superstitious
92.72%, 54.54% and 21.05% respectively (Table 4).
Superstitions were more in housewives, about 89.90%
than others population like student, farmer and service
holder were 16.7%, 50% and 30% respectively (Table 5).
Superstitions were more common in Hindu religion,
about 89% than Muslim and others which were 50%
cases and 66.16% cases respectively (Table 6).
Number of persons with individual superstitions were
recorded (Table 7).
Discussion
On the study several factors were found to be the
influencing for prevailing superstitions. Those ware
poor socioeconomic condition, illiteracy, lack of
maternal and child health care knowledge, occupational
limitation.
Bangladesh is the 9th most populous country in the
world. It has higher birth rates as compared to
developed countries
7
. Every couple wants a safe
delivery & a healthy baby. Findings revealed that some
traditional customs particularly those relating to safety
of the mother and baby during perinatal period were
adhered to bangali families. We reports common myths
prevalent during pregnancy and after delivery. There
was no scientific basis behind the myths and even they
may cause injury to mother or baby.
Educational and socioeconomic status were the most
important factors to cause variation in the response
from participants regarding superstitions. Among
illiterate people percentage of superstitions is 81.13%
while in people with education level more than SSC it
is only 33.33%. Among the participants having
educational level below primary education and above
primary education the percentage of superstition is
65.21% and 50% respectively. So education was an
influencing factor which had a direct effect on
percentage of superstitions. Education level among
study population was range from illiterate to post
graduate. The illiterate women followed the myth more
commonly than educated women. Possibly it was
because of better knowledge of science and less beliefs
on myths in educated mothers.
Ekwochi et al noted a relationship between traditional
post-partum practices and demographic characteristics
of woman such as age, educational status, age at
marriage and birth place
8
. Epidemiological studies
from developing countries highlight that imbalance
diets negatively affect fetoplacental growth and
long-term consequences on offsprin
7-8
. This combined
effect of under-nourishment and negative food practice
added more impact on maternal health in these
countries. The adverse fetal outcome as a result of poor
maternal nutrition was the leading causes of neonatal
death excluding congenital anomalies in developing
countries
9
. Introducing proper nutritional programs and
adequate antenatal care will save lives of many mothers
and children in developing countries.
Among people with lower class socioeconomic status
the superstition percentage was 92.72% while among
people with middle class the percentage was 21.1%. In
between these two the lower middle class having the
percentage of 54.54% proved that the percentage of
superstition has direct relationship to poverty. Women
of rural background had higher prevalence than urban
women. Possible reasons were low education, poor
socio-economic status and lack of awareness about
health facilities.
Another factor was occupation of the participants.
Those who were to spend their life solely inside the
house like house wives have more superstitions than
those who were to go outside the house at least for the
sake of occupation like service holder, student etc.
Percentage of superstition among house-wife,
service-holder, and student is 89.90%, 30%, and
16.66% respectively. There were also differences of
superstitions percentages on the basis of age and
gender difference as evidenced by the superstitions
percentages 57.14%, 85%, 73.17% and 58.33%,
71.42% among the <25years, 25 to 40 years and >40
years age groups and male, female gender groups
respectively. Study revealed that there was a significant
association between women endorsed prohibiting of
foods were younger age group, low level of education,
living in rural areas and had inadequate antenatal care.
Similarly, a community-based study conducted in Saki
East Local Government of Oyo state, Nigeria, authors
found that food taboos significantly associated with
teenage, primigravida, lack of formal education, and
low-income family
10
. Similar results of association
were obtained by Zerfu et al. In many African
countries, there were an urban rural disparity in health
services. Failure to deliver essential medical and social
services in rural areas may be a significant predictor of
many health problems in developing countries
including food taboos
11
.
Conclusion
Superstitions related to pregnancy are very common in
Bangladesh. In this study the superstitions were more
among illiterate, low socioeconomic status and in the
Hindu religion. The impact of superstitions is a great
health hazard in developing country like Bangladesh.
Poverty and illiteracy were two major factor behind the
generation and proliferation of superstitions.
References
1. Zahid H, Absar C. Caritas battles pregnancy superstitions in
Bangladesh. Web site:
https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2010/08/1
1/caritas-battles-pregnancy-superstitions&post_id=61644
2. Tietjen AM. Infant care and feeding practices and the beginnings
of socialization among the Maisin of Papua new Guinea Ecology
of food & nutrition.1984; 15(4): 39-78
3. Kunna A, abdelgadir Shaaeldin M, Alsammani MA.
Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional Customs among Ladies
Attending the Antenatal Clinic at Omdurman Maternity Hospital
(OMH), Omdurman, Sudan. Annals of Medical and Health
Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4) 41-56
4. Wang XL, Wang Y, Zhou SZ. Puerperal practice pattern in a
rural area of north China. Beijing Da Xue Xue Bao.
2007 Apr 18; 39:140-144
5. Vasilevski V, Carolan-Olah M. Food taboos and nutrition-related
pregnancy concerns among Ethiopian women. J Clin Nurs. 2016;
20(2):3069-3075
6. Ahmed S, Abdullahi H, Adam I. Practice of pica among
pregnant women in Khartoum. Sudan. Int J Gynaecol Obstet.
2012; 11(8):71-72
7. Grieger JA, Clifton VL. A review of the impact of dietary
intakes in human pregnancy on infant birth weight. Nutrients.
2014; 29(7):153-178
8. Hossain B, Sarwar T, Reja S , Akhter MN . Nutritional Status of
Pregnant Women in Selected Rural and Urban Area of Bangladesh.
Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.2013;03(1)4-16
9. Ekwochi U, Osuorah CD, Ndu IK, Ifediora C, Asinobi IN, Eke
CB. Food taboos and myths in South Eastern Nigeria: The belief
and practice of mothers in the region. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016;
27(12):17-31
10. Oluwafolahan OS, Catherine AB, Olubukunola AJ. Dietary
habits of pregnant women in Ogun-East Senatorial Zone, Ogun
State, Nigeria: A comparative study. International Journal of
Nutrition and Metabolism. 2014;6(4):42-94
11. Abubakar A, Holding P, Mwangome M. Maternal perceptions
of factors contributing to severe under- nutrition among children in
a rural African setting. Rural Remote Health survey and Research
2011; 5(4):14-25
12. Zefru A, Umetand M, Baye k. Dietary habits, food taboos, and
perceptions towards weight gain during pregnancy in Arsi, rural
central Ethiopia. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition.2016;
22(4):22-35
13. Sumeya A, Abdelillah K, limia S, Mohamed abdelgadir S,
Mohamed Alkhatim A. Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional
Customs among Ladies Attending the Antenatal Clinic at
Omdurman Maternity Hospital (OMH), Omdurman, Sudan Annals
of Medical and Health Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4): 45-47
Age group
<25 years
25 to 40 years
>40 years
Frequency
35
20
41
Percent
57.14
85
73.17
Table 1: Age distribution among the study population related
to superstition.
Socioeconomic status
Lower class
Lower middle class
Middle class
Frequency
55
22
19
Percent
92.72
54.54
21.05
Table 4: Socioeconomic economic status among the study
group
Educational status
Illiterate
Up to primary
Up to SSC
Above SSC
Frequency
53
23
14
6
Percent
81.13
65.21
50
33.33
Table 3: Educational status among the study population
Religion Group
Muslim
Hindu
Others
Frequency
82
11
03
Percent
50.0
89.0
66.16.0
Table 6: superstition among the religion group
Name of superstition
Food supplements
Regular ante
natal cheek up
Maternal activity and
mode of delivery
Solar eclipse
Maternal physique and
fetal gender
colostrum
Traditional and
religions treatment
Reasons for belief
Extra calorie causes big baby
No benefit
Physical activity is harmful
for mother and coming baby
Radiate energy that is
harmful for baby
Mother look more fair if
carrying female fetus
Colostrum is harmful for baby
Helpful for normal
vaginal delivery
Percent
33.0
15.0
10.0
16.0
26.0
7.0
36
Table 6: superstition among the religion group
Occupation
House wife
Student
Farmer
Service holder
Frequency
57
2
5
3
Percent
89.9
16.7
50.0
30.0
Table 5: Occupational status among the study population
Gender
Male
Female
Frequency
12
84
Percent
58.33
71.42
Table 2: Superstitious related to gender
Study on Superstitions Related to Pregnancy Sultana et al
175
Introduction
Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from
ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance,
or a false conception of causation. An irrational abject
attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God
resulting from superstition
1
.
The development in science and technology has helped
us to overcome the superstitions associated with
pregnancy, still many of us follow them even though we
realize that these lack scientific evidence. As in many
other things in life, numerous traditions have been
created. They often have nothing with science. They are
usually prejudices that become part of a local culture.
Traditional beliefs and attitudes influence women’s
health. Even when women have access to appropriate
healthcare, they often prefer home/community based
care
1
. Women’s overall health and nutritional status,
pregnancy outcomes and other reproductive health
problems are considered to be the major biological
causes of maternal mortality; therefore, the overall
nutritional status of a pregnant woman is principally
determined by the feeding practices and care facilities
available to her
2
. During pregnancy mothers have to stay
in a vulnerable position. They always remain in fear
about their coming babies and anticipate the worse.
Sometimes when babies are born with physical defect,
mothers tend to think that they did something wrong
previously and it is for punishment. For these reasons
mothers become superstitious
3
.
Forms of superstitions become different with religions,
geography and time. There are many traditional beliefs
and also some religious habits related to pregnancy.
Some of these beliefs like restricted diet and traditional
religious modes of treatment put the mother and child
health in risk. There are various types of superstitions
related to pregnancy in our country. Sometimes people
believe pregnant mothers should not eat sufficient as
necessary for growth of the baby, some elderly women
believe taking nutritious food during pregnancy causes
big baby and create problems during normal delivery.
The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and its
implication on pregnancy outcome and subsequent
maternal and fetal health is well established. Pregnancy
demands additional nutrition requirements, and
pre-pregnancy counselling on dietary requirement during
pregnancy is an essential component of good prenatal
care
3
. A food taboo is a prohibition of certain foods
during pregnancy and lactation. Unfortunately, the
traditional beliefs or food myths are widely practiced.
Evidences have shown that the majority of women
adhere to traditional beliefs in their eating habits during
pregnancy and lactation
4
. As a result mother takes
inadequate food, so baby born under-weight. Some
dietary habit is the modern equivalent of a superstition. If
something bad happens then they blame it on that one
pineapple or papaya ate, but in reality it may be nothing
more than a coincidence
1
. Sometimes women believe
that the pregnant woman should not cut anything during
solar eclipse. If they do, there is every possibility of
having an abnormal baby and it is nothing but a wrong
belief
5
.
Expectant mothers from Mexico and parts of Latin
America frequently wear bright red panties with a safety
pin, seems to those tribes believed that the eclipse
released energy that could cause birth defects
6
. A Maisin
woman from Papua New Guinea whose baby was born
with cord around its neck may then remember having
walked through a spider’s web during her pregnancy
3,5
.
In Indonesia, pregnant women not to sit in door entrance
because they belief baby may find it difficult to come
out
6
. Thai women eat lotus buds which have been
chanted over by a Buddhist monk so that their bodies
will open up like a lotus flower and they will give birth
easily
5
. Sometimes superstitions may actually be
beneficial as research support the idea that a mother’s
emotion can affect baby’s condition in the uterus. In
Thailand it is believed that every sound, sight, touch,
taste, smell, thought and action experienced by mother
will have some effect on the child
6
. Nigerian mothers are
encouraged to avoid places where people fight and
quarrel so that the ensuing baby becomes peace loving
7
.
Sometimes pregnant women wear band around their
umbilicus with firm belief that baby cannot go upward
and normal delivery will be easier and smooth
5
. This
present study was undertaken to know the status of
superstitions related to pregnancy among people.
Methodology
This was a descriptive type of cross sectional study, in
which persons were selected on random basis from
January 2018 to March 2018 in outpatient department
of CMH Dhaka. There were no ethical problems, as
before interview verbal consent was taken. Cases were
selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Relevant information were taken according to
questionnaire. Common superstitions in different
aspects of daily activities in the country were related to
food supplements, routine physical cheek up of mother,
maternal daily activities and mode of delivery, Solar
eclipse, Traditional religious treatment. Though the
study was performed in CMH Dhaka it actually reflects
the condition of whole population of Bangladesh.
People of various area of the country visit for ANC in
Gynae OPD of CMH Dhaka. All pregnant women and
person having at least a child within 2 years in family
included in this study.
Results
A total number of 96 persons were recruited. In this
study the number of participants having at least one
superstition was 67 which was 69.79% of total
participants (Figure I).
Superstitions were more among 25 to 40 years age
group, which was 85% cases (Table 1).
Female were more superstitious than male which was
71.42% and 58.33% respectively (Table 2).
Illiterate persons were more superstitious (81.130) than
primary, secondary and higher secondary educated
group which were 65.21%, 50% and 33.33%
respectively (Table 3).
Lower class were more superstitious than
economically solvent group. Lower class, lower
middle class and middle class were superstitious
92.72%, 54.54% and 21.05% respectively (Table 4).
Superstitions were more in housewives, about 89.90%
than others population like student, farmer and service
holder were 16.7%, 50% and 30% respectively (Table 5).
Superstitions were more common in Hindu religion,
about 89% than Muslim and others which were 50%
cases and 66.16% cases respectively (Table 6).
Number of persons with individual superstitions were
recorded (Table 7).
Discussion
On the study several factors were found to be the
influencing for prevailing superstitions. Those ware
poor socioeconomic condition, illiteracy, lack of
maternal and child health care knowledge, occupational
limitation.
Bangladesh is the 9th most populous country in the
world. It has higher birth rates as compared to
developed countries
7
. Every couple wants a safe
delivery & a healthy baby. Findings revealed that some
traditional customs particularly those relating to safety
of the mother and baby during perinatal period were
adhered to bangali families. We reports common myths
prevalent during pregnancy and after delivery. There
was no scientific basis behind the myths and even they
may cause injury to mother or baby.
Educational and socioeconomic status were the most
important factors to cause variation in the response
from participants regarding superstitions. Among
illiterate people percentage of superstitions is 81.13%
while in people with education level more than SSC it
is only 33.33%. Among the participants having
educational level below primary education and above
primary education the percentage of superstition is
65.21% and 50% respectively. So education was an
influencing factor which had a direct effect on
percentage of superstitions. Education level among
study population was range from illiterate to post
graduate. The illiterate women followed the myth more
commonly than educated women. Possibly it was
because of better knowledge of science and less beliefs
on myths in educated mothers.
Ekwochi et al noted a relationship between traditional
post-partum practices and demographic characteristics
of woman such as age, educational status, age at
marriage and birth place
8
. Epidemiological studies
from developing countries highlight that imbalance
diets negatively affect fetoplacental growth and
long-term consequences on offsprin
7-8
. This combined
effect of under-nourishment and negative food practice
added more impact on maternal health in these
countries. The adverse fetal outcome as a result of poor
maternal nutrition was the leading causes of neonatal
death excluding congenital anomalies in developing
countries
9
. Introducing proper nutritional programs and
adequate antenatal care will save lives of many mothers
and children in developing countries.
Among people with lower class socioeconomic status
the superstition percentage was 92.72% while among
people with middle class the percentage was 21.1%. In
between these two the lower middle class having the
percentage of 54.54% proved that the percentage of
superstition has direct relationship to poverty. Women
of rural background had higher prevalence than urban
women. Possible reasons were low education, poor
socio-economic status and lack of awareness about
health facilities.
Another factor was occupation of the participants.
Those who were to spend their life solely inside the
house like house wives have more superstitions than
those who were to go outside the house at least for the
sake of occupation like service holder, student etc.
Percentage of superstition among house-wife,
service-holder, and student is 89.90%, 30%, and
16.66% respectively. There were also differences of
superstitions percentages on the basis of age and
gender difference as evidenced by the superstitions
percentages 57.14%, 85%, 73.17% and 58.33%,
71.42% among the <25years, 25 to 40 years and >40
years age groups and male, female gender groups
respectively. Study revealed that there was a significant
association between women endorsed prohibiting of
foods were younger age group, low level of education,
living in rural areas and had inadequate antenatal care.
Similarly, a community-based study conducted in Saki
East Local Government of Oyo state, Nigeria, authors
found that food taboos significantly associated with
teenage, primigravida, lack of formal education, and
low-income family
10
. Similar results of association
were obtained by Zerfu et al. In many African
countries, there were an urban rural disparity in health
services. Failure to deliver essential medical and social
services in rural areas may be a significant predictor of
many health problems in developing countries
including food taboos
11
.
Conclusion
Superstitions related to pregnancy are very common in
Bangladesh. In this study the superstitions were more
among illiterate, low socioeconomic status and in the
Hindu religion. The impact of superstitions is a great
health hazard in developing country like Bangladesh.
Poverty and illiteracy were two major factor behind the
generation and proliferation of superstitions.
References
1. Zahid H, Absar C. Caritas battles pregnancy superstitions in
Bangladesh. Web site:
https://www.ucanews.com/story-archive/?post_name=/2010/08/1
1/caritas-battles-pregnancy-superstitions&post_id=61644
2. Tietjen AM. Infant care and feeding practices and the beginnings
of socialization among the Maisin of Papua new Guinea Ecology
of food & nutrition.1984; 15(4): 39-78
3. Kunna A, abdelgadir Shaaeldin M, Alsammani MA.
Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional Customs among Ladies
Attending the Antenatal Clinic at Omdurman Maternity Hospital
(OMH), Omdurman, Sudan. Annals of Medical and Health
Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4) 41-56
4. Wang XL, Wang Y, Zhou SZ. Puerperal practice pattern in a
rural area of north China. Beijing Da Xue Xue Bao.
2007 Apr 18; 39:140-144
5. Vasilevski V, Carolan-Olah M. Food taboos and nutrition-related
pregnancy concerns among Ethiopian women. J Clin Nurs. 2016;
20(2):3069-3075
6. Ahmed S, Abdullahi H, Adam I. Practice of pica among
pregnant women in Khartoum. Sudan. Int J Gynaecol Obstet.
2012; 11(8):71-72
7. Grieger JA, Clifton VL. A review of the impact of dietary
intakes in human pregnancy on infant birth weight. Nutrients.
2014; 29(7):153-178
8. Hossain B, Sarwar T, Reja S , Akhter MN . Nutritional Status of
Pregnant Women in Selected Rural and Urban Area of Bangladesh.
Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences.2013;03(1)4-16
9. Ekwochi U, Osuorah CD, Ndu IK, Ifediora C, Asinobi IN, Eke
CB. Food taboos and myths in South Eastern Nigeria: The belief
and practice of mothers in the region. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016;
27(12):17-31
10. Oluwafolahan OS, Catherine AB, Olubukunola AJ. Dietary
habits of pregnant women in Ogun-East Senatorial Zone, Ogun
State, Nigeria: A comparative study. International Journal of
Nutrition and Metabolism. 2014;6(4):42-94
11. Abubakar A, Holding P, Mwangome M. Maternal perceptions
of factors contributing to severe under- nutrition among children in
a rural African setting. Rural Remote Health survey and Research
2011; 5(4):14-25
12. Zefru A, Umetand M, Baye k. Dietary habits, food taboos, and
perceptions towards weight gain during pregnancy in Arsi, rural
central Ethiopia. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition.2016;
22(4):22-35
13. Sumeya A, Abdelillah K, limia S, Mohamed abdelgadir S,
Mohamed Alkhatim A. Superstitious Food Beliefs and Traditional
Customs among Ladies Attending the Antenatal Clinic at
Omdurman Maternity Hospital (OMH), Omdurman, Sudan Annals
of Medical and Health Sciences Research. 2017; 7(4): 45-47
Journal of National Institute of Neurosciences Bangladesh Vol.5 No.2, July 2019
176
Introduction
Superstition is a belief or practice resulting from
ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance,
or a false conception of causation. An irrational abject
attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God
resulting from superstition
1
.
The development in science and technology has helped
us to overcome the superstitions associated with
pregnancy, still many of us follow them even though we
realize that these lack scientific evidence. As in many
other things in life, numerous traditions have been
created. They often have nothing with science. They are
usually prejudices that become part of a local culture.
Traditional beliefs and attitudes influence women’s
health. Even when women have access to appropriate
healthcare, they often prefer home/community based
care
1
. Women’s overall health and nutritional status,
pregnancy outcomes and other reproductive health
problems are considered to be the major biological
causes of maternal mortality; therefore, the overall
nutritional status of a pregnant woman is principally
determined by the feeding practices and care facilities
available to her
2
. During pregnancy mothers have to stay
in a vulnerable position. They always remain in fear
about their coming babies and anticipate the worse.
Sometimes when babies are born with physical defect,
mothers tend to think that they did something wrong
previously and it is for punishment. For these reasons
mothers become superstitious
3
.
Forms of superstitions become different with religions,
geography and time. There are many traditional beliefs
and also some religious habits related to pregnancy.
Some of these beliefs like restricted diet and traditional
religious modes of treatment put the mother and child
health in risk. There are various types of superstitions
related to pregnancy in our country. Sometimes people
believe pregnant mothers should not eat sufficient as
necessary for growth of the baby, some elderly women
believe taking nutritious food during pregnancy causes
big baby and create problems during normal delivery.
The importance of nutrition in pregnancy and its
implication on pregnancy outcome and subsequent
maternal and fetal health is well established. Pregnancy
demands additional nutrition requirements, and
pre-pregnancy counselling on dietary requirement during
pregnancy is an essential component of good prenatal
care
3
. A food taboo is a prohibition of certain foods
during pregnancy and lactation. Unfortunately, the
traditional beliefs or food myths are widely practiced.
Evidences have shown that the majority of women
adhere to traditional beliefs in their eating habits during
pregnancy and lactation
4
. As a result mother takes
inadequate food, so baby born under-weight. Some
dietary habit is the modern equivalent of a superstition. If
something bad happens then they blame it on that one
pineapple or papaya ate, but in reality it may be nothing
more than a coincidence
1
. Sometimes women believe
that the pregnant woman should not cut anything during
solar eclipse. If they do, there is every possibility of
having an abnormal baby and it is nothing but a wrong
belief
5
.
Expectant mothers from Mexico and parts of Latin
America frequently wear bright red panties with a safety
pin, seems to those tribes believed that the eclipse
released energy that could cause birth defects
6
. A Maisin
woman from Papua New Guinea whose baby was born
with cord around its neck may then remember having
walked through a spider’s web during her pregnancy
3,5
.
In Indonesia, pregnant women not to sit in door entrance
because they belief baby may find it difficult to come
out
6
. Thai women eat lotus buds which have been
chanted over by a Buddhist monk so that their bodies
will open up like a lotus flower and they will give birth
easily
5
. Sometimes superstitions may actually be
beneficial as research support the idea that a mother’s
emotion can affect baby’s condition in the uterus. In
Thailand it is believed that every sound, sight, touch,
taste, smell, thought and action experienced by mother
will have some effect on the child
6
. Nigerian mothers are
encouraged to avoid places where people fight and
quarrel so that the ensuing baby becomes peace loving
7
.
Sometimes pregnant women wear band around their
umbilicus with firm belief that baby cannot go upward
and normal delivery will be easier and smooth
5
. This
present study was undertaken to know the status of
superstitions related to pregnancy among people.
Methodology
This was a descriptive type of cross sectional study, in
which persons were selected on random basis from
January 2018 to March 2018 in outpatient department
of CMH Dhaka. There were no ethical problems, as
before interview verbal consent was taken. Cases were
selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria.
Relevant information were taken according to
questionnaire. Common superstitions in different
aspects of daily activities in the country were related to
food supplements, routine physical cheek up of mother,
maternal daily activities and mode of delivery, Solar
eclipse, Traditional religious treatment. Though the
study was performed in CMH Dhaka it actually reflects
the condition of whole population of Bangladesh.
People of various area of the country visit for ANC in
Gynae OPD of CMH Dhaka. All pregnant women and
person having at least a child within 2 years in family
included in this study.
Results
A total number of 96 persons were recruited. In this
study the number of participants having at least one
superstition was 67 which was 69.79% of total
participants (Figure I).
Superstitions were more among 25 to 40 years age
group, which was 85% cases (Table 1).
Female were more superstitious than male which was
71.42% and 58.33% respectively (Table 2).
Illiterate persons were more superstitious (81.130) than
primary, secondary and higher secondary educated
group which were 65.21%, 50% and 33.33%
respectively (Table 3).
Lower class were more superstitious than
economically solvent group. Lower class, lower
middle class and middle class were superstitious
92.72%, 54.54% and 21.05% respectively (Table 4).
Superstitions were more in housewives, about 89.90%
than others population like student, farmer and service
holder were 16.7%, 50% and 30% respectively (Table 5).
Superstitions were more common in Hindu religion,
about 89% than Muslim and others which were 50%
cases and 66.16% cases respectively (Table 6).
Number of persons with individual superstitions were
recorded (Table 7).
Discussion
On the study several factors were found to be the
influencing for prevailing superstitions. Those ware
poor socioeconomic condition, illiteracy, lack of
maternal and child health care knowledge, occupational
limitation.
Bangladesh is the 9th most populous country in the
world. It has higher birth rates as compared to
developed countries
7
. Every couple wants a safe
delivery & a healthy baby. Findings revealed that some
traditional customs particularly those relating to safety
of the mother and baby during perinatal period were
adhered to bangali families. We reports common myths
prevalent during pregnancy and after delivery. There
was no scientific basis behind the myths and even they
may cause injury to mother or baby.
Educational and socioeconomic status were the most
important factors to cause variation in the response
from participants regarding superstitions. Among
illiterate people percentage of superstitions is 81.13%
while in people with education level more than SSC it
is only 33.33%. Among the participants having
educational level below primary education and above
primary education the percentage of superstition is
65.21% and 50% respectively. So education was an
influencing factor which had a direct effect on
percentage of superstitions. Education level among
study population was range from illiterate to post
graduate. The illiterate women followed the myth more
commonly than educated women. Possibly it was
because of better knowledge of science and less beliefs
on myths in educated mothers.
Ekwochi et al noted a relationship between traditional
post-partum practices and demographic characteristics
of woman such as age, educational status, age at
marriage and birth place
8
. Epidemiological studies
from developing countries highlight that imbalance
diets negatively affect fetoplacental growth and
long-term consequences on offsprin
7-8
. This combined
effect of under-nourishment and negative food practice
added more impact on maternal health in these
countries. The adverse fetal outcome as a result of poor
maternal nutrition was the leading causes of neonatal
death excluding congenital anomalies in developing
countries
9
. Introducing proper nutritional programs and
adequate antenatal care will save lives of many mothers
and children in developing countries.
Among people with lower class socioeconomic status
the superstition percentage was 92.72% while among
people with middle class the percentage was 21.1%. In
between these two the lower middle class having the
percentage of 54.54% proved that the percentage of
superstition has direct relationship to poverty. Women
of rural background had higher prevalence than urban
women. Possible reasons were low education, poor
socio-economic status and lack of awareness about
health facilities.
Another factor was occupation of the participants.
Those who were to spend their life solely inside the
house like house wives have more superstitions than
those who were to go outside the house at least for the
sake of occupation like service holder, student etc.
Percentage of superstition among house-wife,
service-holder, and student is 89.90%, 30%, and
16.66% respectively. There were also differences of
superstitions percentages on the basis of age and
gender difference as evidenced by the superstitions
percentages 57.14%, 85%, 73.17% and 58.33%,
71.42% among the <25years, 25 to 40 years and >40
years age groups and male, female gender groups
respectively. Study revealed that there was a significant
association between women endorsed prohibiting of
foods were younger age group, low level of education,
living in rural areas and had inadequate antenatal care.
Similarly, a community-based study conducted in Saki
East Local Government of Oyo state, Nigeria, authors
found that food taboos significantly associated with
teenage, primigravida, lack of formal education, and
low-income family
10
. Similar results of association
were obtained by Zerfu et al. In many African
countries, there were an urban rural disparity in health
services. Failure to deliver essential medical and social
services in rural areas may be a significant predictor of
many health problems in developing countries
including food taboos
11
.
Conclusion
Superstitions related to pregnancy are very common in
Bangladesh. In this study the superstitions were more
among illiterate, low socioeconomic status and in the
Hindu religion. The impact of superstitions is a great
health hazard in developing country like Bangladesh.
Poverty and illiteracy were two major factor behind the
generation and proliferation of superstitions.
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