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Bat’s Blood & Other Old Wives' Tales

Mums in Qatar recall some of the interesting advice they've received while pregnant.

Mums-to-be are magnets for unsolicited advice. From healthy eating tips to superstitions, everyone—your mother-in-law, your neighbour, your co-worker, the girl at the checkout counter—has some “all important” advice to share. Of course, they all mean well and there may even be a hint of truth to the advice you receive, but sometimes it just sounds like nonsense. Combine that with a variety of cultures and who knows what kind of old wives' tales you'll hear. We asked mums to share some of the advice they've received from Qatar's melting pot of traditions.

Be careful if you...

A lady told me not to cross my legs or the baby will receive less air in the belly.
- Eleonora D.

Hold your belly when you sneeze! The cord may detach.
- Mahmoud-Malak B.

If you go swim in the sea, the milk will be cold and hurt the baby.
- Mirsini E.

If you steal something while pregnant, your baby will end up with a birthmark shaped like the stolen object (as per my Romanian grandmother and great-grandmother), which does not at all explain why my father has a potato-shaped birthmark on his back, since my grandma didn't go stealing any potatoes while pregnant.
- Oana U.

Don't lift your arms over your head—the cord will wrap around the neck. (German midwife tale).
- Patricia L.

You must be having a...

A co-worker was sure I was having a boy because my nose looked so much bigger.
- Jessica M.

My mother-in-law was convinced I was pregnant with a boy because my belly was wide on the sides (girl would be pointier 
belly). I had two girls.
- Rawan S.

In Turkey they say the exact opposite.
- Seyma S.

In India too, it’s the opposite. I had a pointier [belly] and I delivered a boy.
- Sharon C.

In England, they always say that if you're craving sweet things it's a boy, and if you're craving salty things it's a girl. I crave both which is enough proof for me that it's an old wives' tale!
- Polly B.

Yes, in the Arabic world it is the other way round. I craved sweet things with my baby girl and salty with my coming baby boy so it worked for me.
- Rima A.

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Don't look at a monkey or your baby will look like one.
- Amzah A.

In Turkey people say that if you look at someone for too long your baby will look like that person.
- Damla A.

When my newborn had jaundice, my mother-in-law said to make her wear yellow so that the jaundice goes away!

- Rawan S.

I wasn't allowed to dress my baby in yellow because it would cause jaundice!
- Suhaila K.

One if the things told to me was that if you got bad heartburn (which most women in pregnancy do!), then your baby will be born with a full head of hair!
- Rita W.

Very superstitious

People told me not to buy any clothes or items for the baby before the birth as this brings bad luck.
- Joanna P.

Indonesia: Don't speak about other's bad behaviour or your baby will end up having the same bad behaviour, and if you’ve done it already, you can "undo the damage" by rubbing your belly.
- Shanti E.

Never ever bring the stroller into your house before the baby is born—bad luck!
- Patricia L.

You shouldn't hang baby clothes to dry after dark, if it becomes dark you have to collect them. (Both bad luck/sickness).
- Mirsini E.

Do not cut your hair during pregnancy otherwise you may have a miscarriage.
- Alisa O.

Say that again?

They put a scissors and a knife under two chairs. If the mum-to-be sits on the chair with the knife, she will have a boy, on the scissors, a girl.
- Mirsini E.

Don't cut fruits or veggies from the bottom or the baby will not be in head down position.
- Dalli N.

If you eat lots of soya sauce your baby will turn out to be gay?!?! Like seriously?
- Batool A.

A colleague once told me to apply bats blood (yes from bats!!) on the legs of my baby girl; it will make her not have hair on her legs, no need to shave later, etc.
- Rawan S.

Eat this, not that!

Eating strawberries will make the lips red.
- Kim K.

My work canteen was serving camel meat the other day, and a Qatari colleague told me not to eat it as doing so would make me deliver my baby three weeks late!
- Melanie D.

I was told that if you eat lots of two-three days old cooked rice you will have a hairy baby.
- Sabeen S.

I was told to eat lots of yogurt to make my baby fair.
- Hafsa S.

A Turkish one: Eat quince and apply the fruit on your cheeks, so your kid will have dimples. (Heard this a thousand times!!)
- Seyma S.

If I drink a bit of saffron with milk during pregnancy, my baby will be lighter.
- Michelle A.

Don’t eat dark chocolate or spinach or the baby will as dark as chocolate or spinach.
- Sumaya R.

Eating chilli peppers will burn the baby.
- Mirsini E.

Soda drinks will make the baby deaf, and octopus will stick on the baby (really stick, not birth marks).
- Mirsini E. 

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