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 Bali, the expecting moms usually avoid eating octopuses during pregnancy, as eating octopuses is believed to result in a difficult delivery.
- In China, the expecting women are not fed crabs, as it is a cold food that can lead to miscarriage.
- In the Philippines, women avoid eating turnips during pregnancy as it would make their babies dark-skinned.
- In Brazil, on the contrary, women are encouraged to indulge in anything and everything during pregnancy, lest their baby may end up looking like the food item that they didn’t eat while they were craving it.
- In Thailand, pregnancy is often taken as a ‘hot condition,’ so they eat and drink hot things, such as warm water, warm food, and even bathe in warm water.
- In Mexico, women prevent hot and cold baths. A cold bath is believed to constrict the pelvis, which may complicate the delivery process, whereas a hot bath is believed to hinder the functioning of the circulatory system.
- In India, pregnant women are encouraged to stay indoors on a no-moon day or on an eclipse to avoid having harmful effects on the fetus.
In some cultures, pregnancy is the best time to get pampered by family and friends, whereas in others it is taken as a natural phenomenon without much attention given to it. For example, In India, women are pampered and given the best diet during pregnancy to ensure ample growth and development of the baby. In China, too, women are pampered, looked after, and given a high-protein diet. In countries like Ethiopia, pregnancy is looked upon as a natural process with no extra attention or hype.
- 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.