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Pregnancy Superstitions Around the World

Chandramita Bora
There are numerous superstitions related to pregnancy that exist almost everywhere in the world, despite the advancement in science and technology. Here are some amazing pregnancy superstitions across different countries.

Did You Know?

According to a Native American superstition, eating steelhead salmon during pregnancy can make the ankles of the baby weak.
Many women give in to some really intriguing superstitions during pregnancy, mainly due to their concern for the unborn child.
Advancements in medical science have made it possible to see the images of the unborn baby in the mother's womb with the help of imaging techniques like ultrasound. But the origin of these superstitions dates back to the ancient times, when these facilities were not available.
At that time, pregnancy was a period of uncertainty for the expectant mothers, as the only reliable test was to just wait and see.
Let's have a look at some of the most interesting pregnancy superstitions around the world.

Food-related Pregnancy Superstitions

It is believed that a pregnant woman should eat and avoid certain types of food during this period. Most of these superstitions maintain that consumption of certain food items can have harmful effects on the baby and also during labor, while some food can be beneficial for both the mother and the baby.
These superstitions are religiously followed in many societies, despite the fact that there is no scientific evidence to support them.
✤ The Mexicans believe that eating lots of eggs during pregnancy can give the baby a bad body odor. This is why many women in Mexico try to cut down on eggs during pregnancy.
✤ Many traditional Nigerian healers warn against eating meat during pregnancy, because of an ancient belief that if the expectant mother eats meat, her child will be born with the characteristic of the animal.
✤ In Philippines, a pregnant woman is expected to eat all the food served on her plate. It is believed that this will ensure the expulsion of all the contents of the womb, including the placenta at the time of delivery.
✤ A Chinese folklore warns women against eating rabbit or chicken during pregnancy. The Chinese believe that consumption of such food products can cause the voice of the unborn baby to be hoarse.
✤ According to a Chinese myth, if a woman eats food that is not cut or mashed properly, her child will have a careless disposition.
✤ Another Chinese superstition says that, if a woman eats crabs during pregnancy, her child will be mischievous, while eating squid can make the uterus sticky.
✤ Women in China are also advised to avoid bananas, papayas, bean sprouts, and cold food like watermelon during their first trimester. Bananas are believed to be associated with miscarriage and asthma, while papayas can cause jaundice and difficult labor.
Native Americans believe that the food consumed by expectant mothers can have a profound impact on their unborn babies. According to their belief, if the mother eats lots of berries, it can cause birthmarks in the unborn child, while consumption of seagulls or cranes can give birth to babies who cry excessively.
✤ The Indonesians believe that eating octopus during pregnancy can cause difficult labor.
✤ In China, women are advised to have light-colored food during pregnancy, as such food can make the baby fair-skinned. But consumption of dark food products like soy sauce, coffee, and tea, can make the baby dark-skinned.
✤ In Guatemala people believe that a pungent concoction made of beer and flavored with boiled purple onion, can induce a speedy and hassle-free childbirth.
✤ In some societies it is said that a pregnant woman should follow all her food cravings. Otherwise, her child will have a birthmark in the shape of the food she craved for but did not eat.

Superstitions for Predicting the Sex of Your Baby

Prior to the invention of ultrasound technology, one had to either wait for nine months to know the gender of the baby or rely on the different pregnancy myths and superstitions. These superstitions have been passed from one generation to the other, and some of them exist even today.
✤ There are plenty of American superstitions for predicting the sex of the fetus. One such superstition is, if the feet of a woman are colder during pregnancy, she will have a baby boy, while the opposite is supposed to be associated with a baby girl.
✤ A pregnant woman can find out the sex of her baby by suspending a ring over her belly. If the ring moves in a circle, it's a baby girl, but if it swings to the sides, it's a boy.
✤ If a pregnant woman carries her baby low, i.e. if the baby bump is nearer to her pelvis, she will have a boy. But if the bump is closer to her breasts, she will give birth to a girl.
✤ If a woman experiences no morning sickness during her first trimester, she will have a baby boy.
✤ If the color of your urine is apparently bright yellow during pregnancy, you are carrying a baby boy.
✤ An amazing Chinese superstition maintains that a woman can influence the sex of her baby by eating certain food, usually 7 days prior to conception. According to this myth, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms, and tofu can ensure the conception of a baby boy. But if a woman wants to have a girl, she should have fish, meat, and pickles.
✤ Some even believe that if a woman drops a knife, she will have a boy, but if she drops a scissor, she will give birth to a girl.
✤ The sex of the fetus can be determined by dropping a coin over the belly of a pregnant woman. If the coin falls to the left side, she is carrying a girl, but if it falls to the right side, she is carrying a boy.
✤ If a pregnant woman looks tired all the time, she is carrying a baby girl. But if she becomes prettier when she's pregnant, she will have a boy. This superstition is based on the belief that a girl steals her mother's beauty.
✤ Food cravings experienced by an expectant mother is another way to predict the sex of the unborn child. If a woman craves sweets, it is assumed that she is going to have a girl, while craving sour food is supposed to be associated with a baby boy.

Other Pregnancy Superstitions

Throughout the world, there are several superstitions that forbid a pregnant woman from doing certain activities, which are perceived to be a bad omen for the mother and the child. These superstitions may have originated to explain the birth defects like cleft palate and the complications associated with childbirth.
Similarly, superstitions for predicting the characteristics and personality of the baby also exist in many parts of the world. Let's have a look at some of these superstitions.
✤ The Polish advise pregnant women to avoid walking under a ladder for the mere belief that their babies will be born thin.
✤ It is believed that if an expectant mother experiences heartburn frequently during those nine months, her baby will be born with a lot of hair.
✤ The Chinese believe that rubbing the stomach frequently during pregnancy will make the child over-demanding.
✤ According to Hindus, the number seven and nine are auspicious and hence, ideal for holding a baby shower.
✤ Many cultures across the world forbid a pregnant woman to knit or sew something for the unborn baby. Strings and ropes are thought to symbolize the umbilical cord, for which it is believed that the baby can get entangled in the cord, if the mother knits anything for the child.
✤ In Hawaii, an expectant mother is not encouraged to wear lei around her neck for the belief that it may strangle the unborn baby. According to this superstition, if a woman wears a lei during pregnancy, it should be left untied.
✤ In Malaysia and Indonesia, an expectant mother is advised not to sit in the threshold or on the stairs, as it may delay the delivery process and make it more difficult.
✤ In Uganda, people believe that looking at an eclipse during pregnancy will result in deformities in the unborn child, like harelip or cleft palate. Whereas, in Thailand, it is believed that the baby will be squint, for the same reason.
✤ In Guatemala, expecting mothers are advised not to look at the moon during a lunar eclipse, and also avoid pointing at rainbows. They believe that these could cause birth abnormalities in the child.
✤ In China, pregnant women are usually asked to keep a knife under their beds to ward off evil spirits.
✤ The Jews believe that parents should not buy anything for the baby before his/her birth.
Jewish women are also advised to refrain from attending funerals and burials. They believe that souls may dwell in such places, which can be dangerous for the expectant mother and her child. This superstition is also prevalent in Philippines.
✤ To make delivery easier, pregnant women in Thailand eat lotus buds, which have been chanted over by a monk. They believe this will help open up their bodies just like the lotus flower and make childbirth easier.
✤ The Tarahumara of Mexico also believe that looking at the moon or sun during an eclipse can cause birth deformities, like club foot and cleft lips.
✤ The Malaysians believe that a woman should not kill any animal during pregnancy. Otherwise, her child will possess the characteristics of the slain animal.
✤ In Turkey, it is believed that if a woman steals during pregnancy, her baby will have a birthmark in the shape of the stolen object. Turkish women are also warned against staring at animals for the belief that it may cause their children to look like those animals.
The development in science and technology has helped us overcome the fears and superstitions associated with pregnancy to a great extent. But, a lot of pregnancy-related superstitions are still around, and many of us follow them even though we realize that these lack scientific evidence.
However, do not let these superstitions make you anxious and worried, as it is not good for both you and your baby.