Paglilihi, Usog, and other Filipino Pregnancy Myths

Myth #1: "Paglilihi" or Pregnancy Cravings

Many Filipinos, to this day, believe that what you eat and crave for during pregnancy has a direct influence on the physical attributes of the baby. However, scientific studies prove that there is no link between paglilihi and the unborn baby's physical attributes. As Genetics tell us, our physical attributes are inherited from our parents' and grandparents' set of genes and not from food cravings.


Myth #2: Post-labor Stomach Binding

It is a common practice for Filipina women to bind their abdomen tightly after pregnancy, believing that this practice helps the uterus to retract and gets the stomach back into shape. However, scientific evidence suggests otherwise. Tying a cloth around one’s tummy can put pressure on the uterus, causing it to bleed. It can also lead to further complications, especially if you’ve experienced a C-section. Evidence also suggests that a combination of diet and mild exercise is the best way to get back into shape after pregnancy.


Myth #3: Eating twin bananas may lead to twins

This myth has many variations, with some claiming that bananas lead to regular twins while others insist on Siamese twins, which is a serious condition wherein twins are born with part of their bodies joined together. However, this myth has no scientific basis, as twin development happens purely by chance or because of your genes (for non-identical twins).

Myth #4: "Usog" or the Stranger's Evil Eye

Usog is an age-old Filipino superstition. The belief states that discomfort (fever, bloating, nausea/vomiting) is brought to the baby by a stranger or visitor who is said to have an evil eye. A simple greeting from the visitor is said to be enough to cause this curse. To counter the curse, the stranger would need to say "pwera usog" while licking his thumb and applying saliva while tracing a cross on the infant's forehead. Despite having no scientific basis or proof regarding the occurrences of usog, many superstitious Filipinos believe in the practice to this date. However, this superstition lacks scientific proof.


Despite the fact that many Filipino superstitions and myths lack scientific explanation, many mothers-to-be still follow them by the letter for two reasons: the “better to be safe than sorry” mentality, and out of respect for the elders or tradition. Some of these superstitions are harmless, but do take extra care and always consult with your OB-gyne before subjecting yourself or your baby to any healing or cleansing rituals. Keeping a healthy balance between modern medicine and Filipino culture will ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.