Normally I'm half-assed when it comes to superstitions.
For instance, I don't like the number 6 or 13, so I'll avoid them if possible. I knock on wood to prevent bad luck, but I'll also knock on plywood, glass, or in a pinch, plastic. And I'm alarmed when black cats cross my path – but I will also chase after said cat and give it a hug.
This all changed when I was pregnant on the heels of a wounding miscarriage. Suddenly I was anxious in a way I’ve never been before, and the superstitious side of me bloomed along with my growing belly.
A our site community thread recently delved into some of the pregnancy superstitions that sound silly – but many of us believe them, just in case. (This is not a new trend, by the way. One poster pointed out that in Tudor England, it was believed that if you had a fright during pregnancy, your baby would be “monsterous.” Also the ancient Greeks removed any kind of knotted rope from the birthing room, since it was thought to slow down labor.)
Here are some of the pregnancy superstitions I absolutely believed:
Princesspiper3 replied: "That if I announce before twelve weeks, something bad will happen. That if I buy baby stuff early, something bad will happen. If I buy stuff for one gender, it will be the opposite."
MadeMarshall said: "In Hindi culture the numbers 7 & 9 are considered lucky, and the number 8 is unlucky. They say this is why it's become common practice to have your baby shower in the 7th or 9th month of your pregnancy. Supposedly it means you'll have good fortune in labor by doing so."
Aslater77 posted: "I was told that you can't reach over your head when pregnant ... because the cord would wrap around the baby's neck. Even though it's completely false I still feel weird reaching over my head."
Pregthuselah added: "If I have to walk away from my baby, I'll throw some of my husband's pants over the crib. Men's trousers ward off evil spirits and fair folk."
Eaj8290 said: "I can't cut my hair during pregnancy. I know it's not true, but I once heard there was a superstition that it causes loss of the baby or something. I always wait until right before."
Beyond indulging in those old wives’ tales, my superstitious nature was channeled into a crystal pendulum on a silver chain, a purchase I made a few years ago at a little witchy shop in Salem, Mass. Pendulums are not scientific, but they have been employed by many cultures for thousands of years and supposedly tap into a body’s intuition. Ask it a yes or no question, and your energy makes the pendulum react. (Here’s more about that.)
My pendulum sat inside a velvet bag in a drawer for about a year, until I was pregnant. Then I used it to check in with my son in utero several times a day. I held it over my belly, asked it if my baby was okay, and the pendulum either swung clockwise for yes, counterclockwise for no. It comforted me between visits to my doctor, it allowed me to sleep at night, it settled me.
To some, this might sound ridiculous. But using superstition to guide my pregnancy gave me a way to be proactive – or feel like I was doing something positive, anyway – and offered an alternate place to focus instead of dwelling in the terrible reality of what can occur during a pregnancy.
I wouldn’t say being superstitious eliminated my stress, but this is how my anxiety remained at a low simmer instead of a high boil.
As John Lennon once sang, "Whatever gets you through the night, it’s all right." And it was.
Photos via Unsplash and iStock
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