“Darling, I think we’re going to be hearing the patter of tiny feet soon!” These words are so long-awaited and pleasant in any family. And of course since the moment when all family members and close friends were informed about this happy news mother, father want the pregnancy to pass fine and a healthy baby to be born. With the course of time numerous interesting traditions and signs have been created concerning pregnancy. They often have nothing to do with medicine nevertheless have right to exist. They are usually prejudices that became part of local culture. And many moms and dads are interested in such information.
In China there is a belief that for the pregnancy to be successful the husband should carry his wife over burning coal when entering the house. Also it’s said that reading of good literature during pregnancy has rather a positive effect on the unborn child. On the other side it is very bad for the pregnant woman to gossip or laugh loudly.
It is believed that the way food eaten by the pregnant woman looks has influence on the baby’s appearance. The woman expecting a baby should never attend a funeral. There is a belief that no construction work should be done in the house where there is a pregnant woman. On the other side to ward off the evil spirits some knives should be put under the bed where the pregnant woman sleeps.
The Chinese have something what is called “tsue shen” (hastening delivery). It is a package of clothes sent by maternal grandmother to her daughter about one month before it is expected the baby to be born. The white cloth inside the package is used to wrap the newborn baby.
To somehow ease the pain of labor Chinese women usually drink special herbal potion. In China women often give birth to their child in an armchair or futon. After the baby is born woman makes a ritual offering of sweet meat and incense to the goddess who helped her to conceive.
The period immediately after the baby is born is called the “sitting month”. It is said that a woman is “doing the month”. During this period the woman stays at home and usually her mother-in-law helps her.
It is believed that due to blood loss during the birth of the baby a woman is in “cold phase”. That is why she should stay in warm place. Living in this phase also includes avoiding cold or raw food.
People in Japan believe that a pregnant woman should not eat spicy or salty food. Eating raw fish is also forbidden. The Japanese also believe that to avoid the birthmarks on baby’s body the pregnant woman should never look at fire.
Being quiet during birth of the baby is expected. Not being so is a sign of embarrassment. Women are told not take any medicine to ease the pain of labor.
In Mongolia it is believed that when meeting two pregnant women should not touch each other. Locals believe that baby’s sex can be changed that way. Until the child is 3 months or in some cases even over 1 year old people do not directly mention his or her sex. There is a belief that by doing so people will confuse evil spirits.
The Akamba people of Kenya believe that a pregnant woman should not see a body of deceased because spirit of the dead can endanger pregnancy. Sex during pregnancy is not allowed as it may result in the birth of a disabled child.
In Jamaica it is said that if a woman drinks lot of milk during pregnancy her child is going to have lighter complexion. There is popular local belief about oranges. Yearning for oranges and then not eating them results in the orange-shaped birth mark on babies.
Mexicans have the same belief but it includes strawberries. In Mexico there is also an ancient belief of Aztec origin. An eclipse is very dangerous for a pregnant woman because her baby could have a cleft lip. To protect herself woman should carry a key or safety pin.
People in Latvia still have some ancient beliefs concerning pregnancy and giving birth. Local women pray to goddess Mara or Mary who is believed to control the human body and influences the labor. Presents are offered to her even before the woman gets pregnant. There is one more goddess. Her name is Lamia. It is believed that she decides the fate of the baby.
In Russia people used to believe that childbirth would be easy if the woman and her husband tell names of all of their previous lovers. So, as you see, it is good to be honest.
Having an easy birth of the first baby is a wish of every pregnant woman. A woman in Malta prays for lot of rain on her wedding day. It is believed that if this happens the birth will be an easy one.
That is why people plan their wedding to be held on the days of “stila” or star when lot of rain is forecasted. These days are Saint Ursula’s Day on the 21st of October, Saint Catherine’s Day on the 23rd of November and Saint Lucy’s Day on the 13th of December.
While giving birth to her child woman in Malta often holds a statue of Saint Calogero or prays to Saint Raymond and Saint Spiridione. Saint Ludgarda is also believed to help to ease the childbirth.
The Orkney Islands is an archipelago of more than 70 islands located in the northern Scotland. Local people believe that if the rainbow tip falls on the house where the baby is about to be born that the baby will be a boy. When someone sees such a rainbow he or she shouts “There’s a bridge for a boy child!”
According to ancient beliefs the mother and baby should be kept safe from “trows” or supernatural creatures. To keep the unborn baby safe from them the pregnancy should be kept secret. The pregnant woman should sleep with knifes and the Bible under her bed. The same objects are kept in baby’s room when the baby is born. Women present during the birth of baby should stay at home for few days to scare away the evil trows.
The birth of baby is celebrated by wetting the child’s head. The father drinks some whiskey with men from the neighborhood to bring good luck to the baby.
The second tradition is called the “blide-meat”. Some scones and ale are given to family members and neighbors. The “Feast” is held only for the baby’s family. On this day mother returns to her everyday life she used to lead before the birth of the baby.
There is also the ceremony called the “Cirsenin’ Feast”. It is held after the baby is baptized. In the past male babies were baptized before female ones. It’s really bizarre but locals used to believe that the baby girl baptized before the baby boy will grow a beard.
In Portugal there is a belief that pets like cats or dogs should be kept away from a pregnant woman. It is done to avoid a baby to be born as a very hairy one.
What is the connection between shape of fruit and vegetables and sex of the baby? People in Portugal believe that if the pregnant woman wants to give birth to a baby girl she should eat round fruits and vegetables. If she would like to get a baby boy then she should eat long vegetables like carrots or cucumbers.
In Spain there is a superstition that a fontanelle on baby’s head can be damaged as result of loud noises. There is also rather strange belief that a piece of wet paper put on baby’s forehead can cure hiccups.
In the UK some people believe that baby’s heart rate can predict its sex. The faster heart rate means that woman is carrying a baby girl and the slower one means that she is going to give birth to a baby boy.