Pregnant Traditions around the world

Posted by Ellen Back February - 19 - 2014
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Although pregnancy is a universal occurrence, the ways in which it is experienced and understood is very different and unique all around the world. Pregnancy traditions range significantly from culture to culture depending on the location. What may seem strange to people in the United States may be very normal and expected to women in different countries. Listed below are some interesting pregnancy beliefs and traditions practiced throughout different regions of the world.

pregnant women around the world

  • Bali: The first few months after the baby is born is dedicated to the holding of the newborn. Babies in Bali are held continuously by their mothers and family members. They do not touch the floor for the first 105 days after birth. Can you imagine that?
  • Canada: Although paternity leave in the United States is considered a fair length for baby care, the parents in Canada are given an extra 35 weeks of paid leave divided between the mom and dad. This way, both parents have plenty of time nurturing and bonding with the baby. Wouldn’t we like that?
  • China: Women in China often drink strong herbal potions and tease to ease the pains of labor. The ancient Chinese people viewed childbearing as an age-old women’s vocation. They believed that fear and apprehension had be abolished from the pregnancy process. People in China would do whatever it took to cater to the needs of the mother in order to avoid discomfort and pregnancy pains.
  • Dominic Republic: During the first months of motherhood, Dominican babies are kept indoors. In order to protect their children from the outside world, mothers make sure their babies are away from nature, avoiding all contact from the sun, clouds, wind, and other possible viruses. If the baby is required to go outside, they are fully covered and protected.
  • Guatemala: Traditionally, women bathe their babies in cold water in order to calm heat rash and promote restful sleep. Mayan moms expect babies to scream in the bath; to them its as normal as an American infant going gaga for his bouncy chair.
  • Greece: Newborns receive customary gifts from friends and family members. The birth of a child is considered a great joy for the entire community. Greek families reward newborns with silver coins to help ward off evil and help promote safety.
  • Iran: In this culture, the grandmother plays a prominent role throughout the first few days of post-pregnancy. The new mother depends on her mother to help nurture and care for the child. The new mother may engage in bed rest while her mother helps complete chores and tasks around the house while taking care of the newborn.
  • Kenya: The people of Kenya believe that a pregnant woman should not look at a dead body. They think that deceased bodies carry bad spirits that can endanger the baby. Sex during pregnancy is prohibited and it is believed that it may result in the birth of a disabled child.
  • Mali: The placenta is considered a very valuable organ. It is believed that the placenta obtains a powerful force that has the ability to affect the baby’s mood and health. To avoid possible dangers and negative repercussions, the placenta is carefully taken care of. It is washed, dried and placed in a basket to be buried by the father.
  • Philippines: Superstitions were common in women who gave birth in the Philippines. Did you know that children may receive up to 10 names during their lifetime? Babies are rarely named at birth due to the fear that an elder or ancestor will take their newborn into the next life. Instead, children are given generic or unattractive nicknames until they are healthy and can be given proper names. Talk about confusion for the baby!
  • South Korea: New mothers in South Korea eat seaweed soup called Miyuk Gook, soon after giving birth. They eat this for up to three weeks after pregnancy. They believe that the nutrients in seaweed soup help to cleanse the blood after childbirth and contribute to the development of healthy breast milk. Children eat this soup on their birthdays as a reminder of the day they entered the world, signifying their mother’s strength during birth.
  • The Netherlands: The kraamzorg, is the nurse service built into the homes of the Dutch people. A nurse comes to the home for the first week after birth to help oversee the health of the mother and child. The Netherlands has the highest rate of home births in the Western world with about one-third of babies born at home.
  • Tibet: About a week after birth, family members get together in Tibet to celebrate the cleansing of the baby. Gifts of food and clothing are presented to represent hope for a healthy life. Often times, the child is named by the most respected person in the ceremony.
  • Uganda: Childbirth in Uganda is called Lutalo Lwabakyala, meaning the women’s battle. Western-style pregnancy usually consists of birth inside the home. Midwives play an important role during child birth. Without the use of extreme medication, women in this country are expected to fight through the pain. According to the people of Uganga, childbirth is known as a test of endurance. Fear is considered childish and a form of weakness.


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