By Dr. Sunil Eshwar, Lead Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aster RV Hospital
What is a Lunar Eclipse
It is a natural phenomenon when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow i.e Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon, hence a shadow is cast on the moon. The fear regarding eclipses is so deep rooted in Indian families that even till date a lot of pregnant women are made to follow the rules that have been passed on from many generations. Some of the commonly followed ones are:
MYTH 1 – Don’t eat anything during the eclipse
FACT – This can actually cause more harm than benefit as the pregnant woman can get dehydrated and have low blood sugars if she is diabetic. If you are pregnant, you should not go without food or water for too long as it can be bad for both you and your baby. If you still don’t want to eat during the eclipse, eat something before the eclipse starts so that you do not have to starve yourself.
MYTH 2 – Don’t use a sharp object such as a knife, scissors or a needle for the duration of the eclipse
FACT– No studies show any evidence for this statement.
MYTH 3 – Do wear metal
FACT – This one goes against the previous idea. Some people believe wearing a safety pin or keeping a knife under the pillow or belly offers protection against a cleft palate. What causes a cleft palate is as yet unknown; however there is no proof that eclipses during pregnancy is linked to this.
MYTH 4 – Rest as much as you can while the eclipse is on and lie down straight on your bed
FACT – This can be adhered to as resting for a few hours will not cause any harm. The eclipse will be for a duration of 3 to 4 hours. Most pregnant women should rest for 4 to 5 hours in a day apart from regular sleep.
MYTH 5 – Cover all the windows with newspaper or thick curtains during the eclipse
FACT – This is because of the false notion that the UV rays in the atmosphere are increased during an eclipse. The exposure to UV rays can cause immense harm to the eyes of the mother during a solar eclipse including permanent blindness. It is safe to look at a lunar eclipse with bare eyes, without using any special glasses.
MYTH 6 – Throw away all cooked food from before the eclipse and take a bath after the eclipse is over
FACT – Throwing away food is not suggested, consuming food that was cooked before the eclipse has not shown any adverse effects in the health of the woman.
MYTH 7 – People cite the damage done to their offspring’s to support their claim of eclipses affecting pregnancy
FACT – There’s no evidence of this. The mother or the father can pass on genes that cause deformity in the baby which needs to be evaluated through genetic counselling.
If pregnant women are looking for some advice on what to do during an eclipse, we would say just do nothing.
Nothing. Really, just nothing. Do what you normally do and do nothing extraordinary.
If you are feeling hungry, have a delicious breakfast. Have some errands to run, do them.
Want to stay in bed and binge-watch movies? Go right ahead!
The Sun/Moon does NOT emit some abnormal form of mysterious radiation during an eclipse.
There is nothing to fear from an eclipse. Period.