Ask Nigeria Header Logo

Cultural myths about pregnancy in Nigeria

Photo of author

By Abraham Adekunle

A pregnant woman is typically bombarded with a huge list of do’s and don’ts.

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic country. It is made up of diverse cultures and different people. Some have estimated that there are at least 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria. According to Ethnologue, there are at least 500 indigenous languages in Nigeria. Each of these languages has its own corresponding culture attached to it. However, despite the heterogeneity of the ethnicities in Nigeria, they have one thing in common: superstition and myths. They form part of the oral tradition of these tribal groups.

A myth is a distortion of a truth such that variations of it are passed down from generation to another and believed to be sacred even in its unoriginal form. On the other hand, superstition is something that has never been true but believed to be true by these people. Several myths exist about practically everything in these cultures. The ones about pregnancy are quite well-known. When their origin is examined, one discovers that the intentions of their creator was altruistic. But since they passed, there has been no one to correct the anomaly they unintentionally created.

Will going out in the afternoon make albinos?

One of the myths about pregnancy and pregnant women is that going out in the afternoon can make the child become an albino. Some other cultures have variations of this. To some, when a pregnant woman goes out in the afternoon, the child in her womb may grow up to be stubborn. To some others, evil spirits are out there in the sunny day hunting for babies in the womb to take possession of. This myth is taken quite seriously because of most of the cultures’ belief in reincarnation.

When one thoroughly investigates these claims, one will notice the selfless intentions of their originator. They make to protect the pregnant woman from hurt or harm. The sunny weather in the tropics is harsh against even the strongest of men. When it is cold, it gets excessively cold. When it is hot, it makes the driest skins brew many sweats. So, the intention behind the myth is to prevent pregnant women from going out in the sun to face the harsh weather in their delicate condition.

What does beauty and reincarnation have to do with pregnancy?

It is also popularly believed in Nigeria that women are more beautiful when they are pregnant. It is believed that females take their mother’s beauty, and the mother can even appreciate the baby boy growing inside her if she becomes more gorgeous during her pregnancy. With the advancement in the field of photography, the social media space has been awash with photographs of beautiful pregnancy women. As if that is a form of evidence, everybody takes that to mean that majority of pregnant women are the most beautiful ever during their pregnancy.

In reality, women experience fatigue and lots of acne, especially in their first trimester. This is as a result of morning sickness, pregnancy hormones and an increasing baby bump. During pregnancy, women have a much bigger fish to fry than trying to make up their face or, according to social media parlance, “dress to kill.” They are worried about their tiredness, fatigue, restlessness, and the constant changes that their body is undergoing. The hormonal changes is an aspect that they are also scared of because of the uncertainty.

Will the baby look like a masquerade if her mother sees one?

Another myth is that pregnant women are not to see a masquerade face to face. They are advised not to go out to see them because it is believed that the baby in the womb will resemble the masquerade. In some cultures, it is even believed that it can cause the woman to lose the pregnancy or for the fetus to pass away. For this reason, they are unable to attend carnivals and fanfares. This may be because the propagators of this myth do not want the pregnant woman to go through stress or be harmed at such a large gathering.

Related Link

Wikipedia: Website

The content on is given for general information only and does not constitute a professional opinion, and users should seek their own legal/professional advice. There is data available online that lists details, facts and further information not listed in this post, please complete your own investigation into these matters and reach your own conclusion. accepts no responsibility for losses from any person acting or refraining from acting as a result of content contained in this website and/or other websites which may be linked to this website.

Fact Checking Tool -