Parents and families are known to go through great lengths to protect an unborn child and the mother in every possible way. Different countries and cultures have different beliefs, traditions and superstitions regarding pregnancy and child birth. Although there are many that are common to a lot of countries, such as the pregnant mother being kept away from funerals and death or that she should stay inside during an eclipse, there are some unique and interesting beliefs or customs from around the world such as:
In Turkey a pregnant woman is not supposed to look at bears, camels or monkeys. Also, once the baby is born the umbilical cord is not supposed to be thrown away. It is said that the cord determines the baby’s future, which is why it is sometimes buried in religious places (for the baby to be devout), or at home (for the baby to have a strong familial bond) or at a school(for the baby to be well-educated).
In Jamaica it is said that if the mother drinks milk during her pregnancy, it will lighten the baby’s skin tone.
The Chinese believe that the mother’s temperament during pregnancy will affect the baby’s personality which is why she should stay away from gossiping, or from losing her temper, or even laughing loudly. It is also believed in China, that for a smooth pregnancy, the father should carry the mother over burning coals into the house.
In many Latin American countries, it is believed that if the pregnant woman does not eat the food she is craving, then the baby will have a birthmark in the shape of that food. In Mexico this is said especially about strawberries.
To make the process of childbirth easier the Russians believe that the expectant mother and father should tell each other about all their past lovers.
Rain on one’s wedding day is a bad sign for many people, but not for women in Malta. They believe that if it rains on your wedding day, the birth of your first born will be an easy process.
Finland has had a popular 70 year old tradition where the government gives expectant mothers goodies in a cardboard box. The tradition dates back to the 1930 when the government, in a bid to curb infant mortality rates tried to encourage expectant mothers to go visit a doctor who would then give them the goody boxes which contain clothes, diapers, wipes and other baby stuff. The cardboard boxes are also used as cribs!
Expectant mothers in Bolivia stay away from knitting during pregnancy because it is believed that knitting will twist the baby’s umbilical cord around its neck.
In the Orkney Islands, a group of islands off the coast of northern Scotland, if a rainbow is spotted then it is taken to mean that a boy is going to be born. Also a pregnant woman must try and hide her pregnancy for as long as possible to keep away the evil spirits or ‘trows’. In fact, to keep these ‘trows’ away from harming the baby, an expectant mother is supposed to sleep with a knife and a bible under her pillow.
An old belief in Ireland was that if a hare crossed a pregnant woman’s path, then the child would be born with a cleft lip unless she tore the hem of her skirt or dress.