We are all very excited to witness something as rare as a solar eclipse but while this event has some of us rushing to find eclipse sunglasses, it can be a stressful event for pregnant women.
Some cultures have superstitions about an eclipse during pregnancy. For example, women in Mexican cultures are told to avoid it because an eclipse could cause a child to be born with a cleft lip (paladar leporino in Spanish). This superstition can be traced back to the Aztecs. They believed that a normally benign deity named Tzitzimitl would turn into a monster during an eclipse and attack pregnant women. A woman would have to have an obsidian knife (a knife with a blade made from volcanic rock) placed on her belly to protect her. The superstition is still common today but women use small metal objects like safety pins attached to the pants instead of knives.
In the Indian culture it is believed that women and their family members should stay inside during the eclipse and refrain from any activity including working, eating, etc. They believe any object that is touched during the eclipse could cause the baby to be born with a malformation urban birthmark in the shape of the object that was touched!
We now know that pregnancy complications have a variety of causes including genetic and environmental however none are attributed to the eclipse. Pregnant women should be able to go out and participate in witnessing this phenomenon without any concerns of this affecting their pregnancy. Women and men should both take precautions to protect their vision during this time, though. Looking at the eclipse without special protective lenses could cause permanent vision damage so be safe folks!