Myths around pregnancy

“When you eat an egg during pregnancy your baby will be born bald…” An American guest-gynecologist reveals some pregnancy myths. “And when you stretch both arms high up; the umbilical cord might get around the baby’s neck.”
“We relate a circulating umbilical cord to a pregnant woman who wears a scarf around her neck,” knows a Gabonese nurse. “And eating pineapple gives the newborn a rash.” “Okra, on the contrary, should be eaten, but only at the end of the pregnancy; it will make that the baby pops out easily!” There is great hilarity at the Morning Meeting at Bongolo Hospital. And when we all start sharing, it appears that myths around pregnancy exist in every culture.
Julian, a Gabonese midwife, has been responsible for the obstetrics department for over 20 years. She knows all the pregnant women very well and with her authority she is able to refute a lot of myths.
A large part of the pregnant women we see are teenage girls. In Gabon, women must first prove that they can become pregnant before they marry. This results in young girls becoming pregnant, which is dangerous at that age. Moreover, they often stop going to school, or the grandmother takes care of the child. Julian opposes this myth firmly: “Who is going to feed the child now? If you have not finished school, got no job, and not even a husband?” The patient I’m seeing –we see patients in the same room- nods affirmative.

Her boundless devotion proves that her sometimes harsh words, are meant for good. There is no gynecologist in Bongolo and Julian is called by the young obstetricians if there is a difficult delivery. In the middle of the night, rain or storm, she is always ready. “I like my job,” she says, “and God gives the strength. Another hospital in the region has offered me a high salary, but I’ll stay here. I love the people here.”

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