Few things strike awe in human beings like a good eclipse. Most spend their daily lives feeling pretty disconnected from the universe they live in, but when eclipse time rolls around, everyone excitedly perks up and pays attention. But given the fact that a woman's menstrual cycle is lunar, combined with pregnancy myths about everything under the sun (no pun intended), some women feel concerned. Is the solar eclipse harmful during pregnancy?
According to NASA, a solar eclipse "is an eclipse in which the moon passes between the sun and Earth and blocks all or part of the sun for up to about three hours, from beginning to end, as viewed from a given location."
In Eastern cultures, the activity of the moon is taken seriously in consideration of the health and behavior of people, and especially pregnant women. Dr. Sujata Mittal, a practicing OB-GYN in India, tells Romper, "Everything in the cosmos has some effect on human beings. Rays emitted at the time of a solar eclipse have negative energy and hence a negative effect on a fetus, as fetuses are highly sensitive to the influence of ionic energy on mother's skin."
But don't freak out just yet. Remember, medical wisdom can vary pretty widely from culture to culture. Most medical and science experts in Western countries maintain that a solar eclipse has no effect on pregnancy.
Proving just how influential our spot on the globe can be in our perception of science and medicine, Jay Pasachoff, Chair of the Working Group on Solar Eclipses of the International Astronomical Union, dismisses any notion that an eclipse could affect pregnancy. "Of course not. How could it?" Pasachoff rhetorically asks Romper in an interview. "At a solar eclipse, the sun is merely being covered, so there is less of its light shining on Earth. There is no way that could affect pregnancy or labor."
Ann Mullen, Health Education Director at reproductive health company Cycle Technologies, says that to her knowledge there is no scientific evidence that a solar eclipse is harmful to a pregnant woman or her fetus. In an interview with Romper, Mullen concludes, "There are some myths around solar eclipses, but pregnant women should feel perfectly safe." New York OB-GYN Dr. Amos Grunebaum agrees. "A solar eclipse has no special effect on any pregnancy," he tells Romper.
The bottom line? Pregnant woman are almost certainly unaffected by the presence of a solar eclipse, but if you're worried, talk to your care provider about your concerns. If you prefer to follow Eastern medicine, you might be interested in some of the popular guidelines recommended. But if you want to experience the thrill along with everyone else, don't feel guilty about pulling up a blanket in a clear viewing spot. Just be sure there's someone to help you get back up when it's over.