While there are medical and conventional ways of helping infertile couples fall pregnant, there are also myths and folktales that many still believe are able to help them become pregnant. This article in no way proves these myths to be real, but rather lists African myths on how to fall pregnant.
Some of the myths listed below may sound absurd, but there are people who still believe them. Real Africans were asked to give input in an attempt to get real, but commonly known African myths on how to fall pregnant.
“You get a lot of these sayings (myths) from the elders. I really don’t know where they get them from, but in some cases you find that a large population, including several villages still believe these myths. Funny as they may sound to outsiders, even though I know that they're not based on medical science, I believe some of them because they helped out my sister,” said Nkululeko Dhlamini.
According to Nkululeko, medical science struggled to help her sibling to fall pregnant. Nothing worked, she tried to do it all, but only once she followed the myths did she become pregnant at long last. “Maybe it was coincidental, but maybe just maybe it had something to do with what the old gogo [granny] told her about peanuts. It sounds too simplistic, but who knows,” laughed Nkululeko.
7 The Woman Must Eat a Lot of Peanuts
“I can’t tell you if there's any truth to this myth other than that you must eat peanuts if you want to fall pregnant. Silly as it may sound, I believe it. I know there probably may not be any medical correlation to back it up, but I saw how someone close to me cried a lot and followed the conventional route, but nothing happened for years.
“Then one day, an old gogo [granny] asked her why she was so old and did not have children and she sadly replied that she could not. I knew that she was trying to conceive for years and had even stopped going to the medical doctors. The old woman simply told her to eat a lot of peanuts. She did and now she’s a mom all of a sudden,” laughed Nkululeko.
Even though she thought it was a bit weird, the Zulu woman believed the myth about peanuts being linked to falling pregnant. She narrated another story which had to do with her friend who was struggling to conceive. When her friend heard this myth, she did not naturally like peanuts, but started eating a lot of them just in case, and she also fell pregnant.
Start eating some peanuts and see what happens...you might get pregnant
The African myth says that if you eat a lot of peanuts, you will most likely fall pregnant; and if you don’t want to fall pregnant, you should avoid eating peanuts. It is something that is sometimes passed on from old women to their children and their children. No one knows where it comes from.
“If a young girl in the community has a boyfriend and are sexually active then sometimes old people will reprimand her when they see her eating peanuts. Even if they are using some form of birth control, she should stop eating peanuts if she does not want to fall pregnant. I know medical science can most likely not back this myth up, but I totally believe it. There is something about women and peanuts that cannot be explained,” warned Nkululeko.
6 The Man Must Eat the Meat (and Drink Soup) Made From a Cow’s Head
It is generally acceptable for there to be food for men and food for men in African customs. During rituals which are carried out during weddings and funerals, it is culturally accepted – in many African cultures – that women should not eat certain parts of animals and food in general.
For example, many modern women in this day and age still do not to eat the head of a cow as that is considered a portion for men only. This meat is believed to be “men’s food” because it increases sexual libido and stamina amongst men.
“I am telling you, this one is not a myth. If you want to keep your woman happy in the bedroom, you must eat the cow’s skop (head of a cow), especially the soup made from it.
Find a butcher and a soup recipe for this one
“I heard it from a TV program where a lot of guys were saying that it helps toughen up their erections. There was a long line waiting to buy the soup and I thought surely such can’t just be hearsay. I tried it myself and it is true. My woman has not complained since,” said an African man who said he was Papa Jafta.
It is also alleged that apart from helping with strong male erections, eating that part of a cow designated for men only can help men to impregnate their partners. According to Papa Jafta and the locally produced television program – also seen by the writer – the men alleged the soup made from the skop (head of a cow) was an aphrodisiac of some kind.
The African myth alleges that for a very long lasting male erection (and a potent one), men must feast on this part which is often designated just for men to eat during cultural rituals. It is prepared in a specific way which often involves being boiled in water and a little salt only.
Beef soup is good for you at least
“I did not even tell my woman what I did differently, all I know is that I pleased her in a manner like never before from the day that I also started drinking the soup made from the head of a cow. From her reaction and what I personally experienced, it is true. I did not take the chance and made sure we used birth control because apparently after drinking that soup, you are bound to impregnate your partner,” laughed Papa Jafta.
5 Women Must Not Eat Eggs
Other foods that women are allegedly not supposed to eat in several African tribes and nationalities are eggs. While it is generally accepted, especially in the rural parts of South Africa, it is not as well known why women are not supposed to eat eggs.
“When my forefathers and tradition does not allow me to eat eggs, who am I to question why or why not? I know the women in the big cities [like Johannesburg] eat them and they have a lot of issues that a bit of obedience could have maybe prevented them from having,” said a woman who alleged that eggs should not be eaten by women because that is how it has and will always be.
The myth states that women should not eat eggs for various reasons, which include:
If a woman eats eggs, she may allegedly struggle to conceive.
If a woman eats eggs, they may thicken the fluid sack around baby and she could experience a lot of pain when giving birth.
If a woman likes to eats eggs, she may suffer from issues “with her eggs” due to her lack of obedience to cultural ways of doing things.
It is not just hearsay, but common to find women across Africa, even in metropolitan cities like Durban and Johannesburg who do not like eating eggs out of fear of bad-luck, particularly in conceiving a child or experiencing difficulties during childbirth.
Avoid eggs for conception and an easy delivery
Eggs are therefore considered – by the African myth – to be suitable only for men and many African women are discouraged by their elders from eating them too much or at all as a means of allegedly safeguarding the women and keeping them from harm.
Different African tribes have different beliefs as to why women should allegedly stay away from eating eggs, but rather leaving that portion for men to eat. While others believe it is a way of safe guarding future animal offspring, one thing that is commonly believed is that if a woman wants to fall pregnant, she should not eat eggs to avoid complications in falling pregnant and/or giving birth.
4 The Man Must Not Tie a Tie Around His Neck
One of the less known, but believed African myths on how to fall pregnant is that the man should not tie a tie around his neck. This is not just important for conception, but the duration of his partner’s pregnancy.
There are namely for two reasons for this myth:
Chances of falling pregnant when the father-to-be (man) sleeps with a tie are that his sperm will be choked and die, or
The child will most likely be born with the umbilical cord around his/her neck if the father wears a tie during the pregnancy.
That is allegedly why African men do not wear ties as part of their traditional attires and why their seed (sperm) are not as choked after being implanted into women. The old woman who went on to talk about this myth went on about how African people of old observed traditional customs and multiplied so rapidly with less incidents.
Maybe dress with a pocket square instead
“When we speak to you, you think we are old fashioned. Tradition is the way that it is for a reason. In this busy life of today, men wear ties and other things around their neck. The myth maintains that that is not good for unborn children.
“This is more so for the father, he should not wear a tie or tight scarves around his neck because this may put the child – whether as a seed or during birth – in danger of suffocation and therefore dying,” said an African woman who did not want to be named because she did not want to attract any media attention to herself.
According to this African woman, she was sharing the African myth to help others fall pregnant and did not invent the belief herself. It is something that was told to her and that she hopes would be told to the next generation regardless of how busy their lifestyles may be.
“I really don’t know how true this myth is, but I personally believe it. It sounds silly, but when I conceived after a lengthy period it worked. Sometimes these so-called simple myths may have some truths to them,” said the African woman.
3 The Woman Must Not Plait Her Hair During Conception and Labour
“The other African myth on how to fall pregnant is that you must not plait your hair when trying to conceive or when you go into labour. The reason being that if you do so, you are tying your womb,” continued the same woman.
Her reasoning was that had these myths required more complication, people would easily believe them. However, because they are so easy to do (in most cases), they get overlooked and by people doing so, it could be to their detriment.
She affirmed that people often chose to believe myths that were ridiculously complicated, but left the ones that seemed foolishly simple, often to their detriment. She alleged that a woman’s hair – like her womb – were part of her femininity and that the two could be more interlinked than what the naked eye could see.
“Unplaiting your hair is symbolic to opening up your womb to receive. They are both feminine and girly. In this myth, the hair is a metaphoric representation for the womb ready to become plain, open and ready to receive life and bring life into the world with nothing to hide, no frills, but utter sincerity and openness,” continued the African woman who wished more and more women could take these old myths seriously and not just overlook them because they were seemingly ridiculous and simple.
According to the woman, when one has tried all else and it is not working, sometimes it helps to uncomplicated things. Not take the physical too much on the surface, but to go deeper and ask what can be learnt in this time of waiting. Rather than getting oneself more in debt from consulting complicated means, open up yourself first and do an inner search and introspection within.
Sometimes these African myths can be so absurd that they seem to be the topic for a laugh, but they can also be a call – if nothing else – to get aspiring moms-to-be to slow down and look within themselves and ask themselves questions.
Sometimes it [pregnancy] happens quickly, but in the event that there is stillness and things are not working according to one’s plan… Allow yourself to open up to a plan bigger than yours which incorporates new life, however way it may be.
2 The Woman Must Avoid Sleeping a Lot During the Day
The other African myth on how to fall pregnant is to avoid sleeping a lot during the day. One thing that is clear is that these myths are not founded on just the literal, but are often representative of something else.
“Maybe this myth was founded by mothers-in-law who wanted grandchildren and hoped that their son’s wives would continue working hard just after getting married and everyone in the family wanted them to motivate her to have children and not let that [pregnancy] stop her, I don’t know,” laughs newly married Joy from Nigeria, who is also a mother of two girls.
Joy who did not want to incorporate her new or maiden surname for fear that her in-laws war against her for thinking she is painting them black, was commenting on an African myth that was told to her.
Your sleepiness might be affected by a medical condition
“There is an African myth I heard which says that in order to fall pregnant – and during the pregnancy – the prospective mother must not just sleep during conception and once conception has taken place, she must not sleep a lot during the day or else the baby will be sleepy on the day of delivery,” continued Joy.
According to Joy, this myth was probably used to encourage sexual participation in bed and to scare the pregnant mom into not being lazy. She figured it could have also been sparked to make the woman want to please her husband sensually and for them to keep things interesting as husband and wife under pressure by the family to give birth to a lot of children.
“Fortunately, I love my husband. I know there are many women who have arranged marriages and perhaps don’t love their husbands. Yet when you are told that just lying there may result in your child being sleepy on the day of delivery, I’m sure it is enough to scare any woman to try harder to please her husband behind closed doors and to work hard even after she finds out that she’s pregnant.
“It’s a different matter when you do it for your child; many woman will agree to doing anything they can for their babies,” said Joy.
1 The Woman Must Avoid Eating Ice
“Maybe the fact that it was Winter had something to do with it, but I was extremely cold and frozen during labour. The nurses gave me a blanket to try and keep me warm though,” said a woman who recalled how she was warned over 30 years ago about this myth.
She asserts that the myth warns against eating ice when trying to conceive because all the coldness of the ice will build up on the day of the labour and you will freeze. This myth warns aspiring moms to avoid eating ice or too cold things.
“I never just drank water or juice as is, but used to put ice cubes. I was warned by the older women not to do so, but did not take heed. It sounded so petty, but after I froze during labour,” cautioned the woman who also took a while after getting married to conceive and give birth, even though it was not her choice.
Needless to say, when trying to conceive for her second child, she cut down on the ice and eating other cold foods unnecessarily, just in case the myth had something to do with her freezing during labour.
“No one really knew why the old African women were warning me against the ice, but as an educated nursing professional, I did not think it was possible for all the ice you have been eating from conception to delivery to get stored up and get you on labour day, but something like that happened to me, or at least that is what it felt like.
“I recall being unbearably cold. It was sort of the coldest I have ever been in my life. So while I think it is a bit weird, a part of me kind of believes the myth. Maybe all the women who warned me knew first hand that this weird myth could sort of be true,” concluded a woman who recalled giving birth over three decades ago.
According to this African myth, which is somewhat still generally believed amongst women, it states that from the time you are trying to conceive, you should avoid eating ice cubes as that can slow down your chances of falling pregnant and once you do, free you up during labour day.