Being pregnant is mostly a joyous time for women all across the globe. And while most of us seek only the best scientific advice possible to ensure the best possible health care of our babies (and us!), would it surprise you to know that millions of women across the globe staunchly follow superstitions?
Some are steeped in religion, some in culture but most are nothing but the figment of the imagination of their mischievous ancestors. And here's our list of the 15 most crazy pregnancy superstitions from across the globe (which are not indicative of the belief of the entire country's population as a whole).
15 Arab Countries: Beware the Bunny
In many Arab countries, the belief is that you shouldn’t look at rabbits while pregnant unless you want your child to have giant, rabbit-like buck teeth. Now, why this would be a huge concern for a new baby compared to the other ailments to worry about is another question.
14 China: Never a Bridesmaid
In China, it’s not common to see a pregnant mother attending either weddings or funerals. Both ceremonies are believed to bring bad luck to the baby. Funerals make a bit more sense than weddings because of the whole death thing but maybe this superstition just stemmed from tired pregnant mothers not wanting to attend large events.
13 Jewish (global): No Gifts, Please
In the Jewish cultural tradition, women don’t have baby showers, and many won’t even buy new baby items or decorate the nursery before the birth. It makes for a lot of work and shopping to do after the birth, even if it does help keep away evil spirits as the tradition ensures.
12 Bulgaria: Shh!
In Bulgaria, women have a superstition about keeping their pregnancy a secret for as long as possible. The fear is that revealing the news too early will jinx things, so anything baby related has to stay hush-hush. Don’t be expecting to attend a gender-reveal party in Bulgaria anytime soon.
11 England: Belly Size and Shape
According to Old English folklore, the different lumps and bumps of a woman’s pregnant stomach can reveal the gender of the baby. Some versions of the folklore hold that girls sit high up while boys lay a bit lower. Other variations of the tale say if the weight is more evenly distributed throughout the abdomen then it will be a boy. There was probably some sexist reasoning for this distinction back in the day but now, the superstitions are just established wives’ tales that some British women like to test.
10 Uganda and India: Eclipses are Bad for Baby
This superstition actually appears in two countries’ cultures, so that might mean it has better believability. In both Uganda and India, women fear eclipses and think they will harm their unborn baby. Women will go so far as to close their windows to make sure no light from the eclipse comes in to harm or touch them.
9 Hawaii: Save a Life, Keep the Lei Open
You won’t see a pregnant Hawaiian woman wearing a traditional, circular lei, which is the delicate flower accessory popular in Hawaiian culture. Instead, pregnant women will wear open leis, which are an unclosed circle that sits more like a scarf than a necklace. According to the tradition, they fear the closed lei means baby will be strangled by the umbilical cord.
8 Russia: Don’t Flatter Yourself
Russians may have a stereotype of being cold and standoffish but maybe that’s just to protect their babies. After all, pregnant women don’t like receiving compliments because of the superstition that it brings bad luck to their baby. You might not want to insult a pregnant Russian mother either, though, so maybe just stick to some neutral comments.
7 America: The Ring Test
This superstition involves babies with telekinetic powers. Many mothers in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries believe that a dangling ring can help them figure out the gender of their baby. It works like this: you tie a string around a ring (preferably a wedding ring) and dangle it like a pendulum over the pregnant belly. If it moves in a circular motion, it’s a girl but if it swings forward and backward then it’s a boy. Obviously, this superstition arose when the gender binary was more commonly accepted but if we had to guess, maybe a swirling motion means the baby is intersex.
6 Liberia: Don’t Touch!
In Liberia, pregnant women don’t like when people touch their stomach. Most pregnant women don’t like being groped by strangers anyway but apparently women in Liberia believe that strangers can spread bad energy and evil spirits to their babies through the stomach. For this reason, they only want people they know and trust to touch them. Again, that should be the norm for most women! It’s always a good standard practice to ask before you touch.
5 America: How You Feel Determines Gender
Apparently, Americans are just obsessed with gender. Along with the ring test, another myth in the States is that you can guess the baby’s gender by how sick you feel. (This one is a little sexist, too.) Many American moms claim their baby girls put them through hell with morning sickness and nausea while carrying their boys were walks in the park. We only hope this means a little girl is worth the extra effort!
4 Poland: Careful Of Ladders!
Most people know of the old superstition that you’re not supposed to walk under an empty ladder (and you probably shouldn’t walk under one with a person on it either). But in Poland, this belief has another facet: if a pregnant woman walks under an empty ladder, her baby will be at risk of being tiny. Of course, all babies are tiny but this smallness will stay with the baby forever, and apparently there’s nothing Polish people fear more than being below average in height.
3 Georgia, USA: Eggplant Parmesan to Induce Labor
This is one of the most specific superstitions we’ve come across but the proof is in the numbers. Mothers in Smyrna, Georgia swear by the eggplant Parmesan at Scalini's Italian Restaurant. Pregnant moms who eat the dish claim it sent them into labor quickly, some say almost immediately after eating it. According to Scalini’s website, the restaurant walls feature over 300 baby photos of babies who were born after their moms ate the famous dish.
2 South America: Using Bracelets to Keep Away Evil Spirits
In this Latin American myth, newborn babies are in danger of the “mal de ojo” or the “evil eye”, a bad energy that can be passed to a baby just by looking him or her in the eyes. To prevent this from happening, parents in Latin American countries will give their newborn babies a piece of jewelry called the azabache bracelet, which is red, gold and black. It keeps weird, bad-energy adults from looking at their child.
1 Nepal: The Emotional State of the Mother
Nepali mothers need to be careful to stay in good spirits while pregnant, as hard as that may be. The reason isn’t just for the mother’s sake, though; it’s for her baby in the womb. This even means avoiding listening to scary stories or watching frightening movies, as the stress from the mother will be felt by the baby.