15 Unique Pregnancy Rules Native American Women Have To Follow

Different cultures have their own set of rules and superstitions when it comes to pregnancy. Most of these rules exist due to superstition, and not due to any kind of medical evidence. Some pregnancy rules are also cultural and devoid of any kind of superstition.

So many cultures have rules built on superstition as well which may not have crossed your mind. And, after studying the culture of Indigenous people in general, they all have their own individuals rules that are based on superstition as well.

As such, I had a look at four different cultures. The first is the Inuit culture, which resides in Alaska, Northern Canada and in Greenland, basically anywhere near the Arctic Circle.

The second is the Cherokee culture, a group of people which originated in the eastern part of America.

The third is the Navajo culture, a group of people that originated in the American southwest. Finally for the fourth, I also looked at the Native American Iroquois culture in general. I’m just going to say it was fascinating what I found, especially when it came to rules in regards to pregnancy, and you would probably be curious as well. So let's go over 15 rules that Native American pregnant women follow.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

unmarried pregnant Inuit
Start Now

15 Inuit Women: Pregnant & Unmarried Is OK

unmarried pregnant Inuit
Via: OttawaCitizen.com

Whenever you hear about different pregnancy rules based on many different cultures around the world, a very common rule is that unmarried pregnant women are frowned upon. In the modern western world, it is not unusual for unmarried women to be pregnant. Many decades ago, however, it was. But the fact of the matter is, there are so many single and unmarried moms around that pregnancy is no longer expected to happen to only married women -- in the modern western world that is.

However, there are some cultures that do not frown upon pregnant women who are unmarried. According to The Classroom, if an Inuit woman is pregnant but not married, then that is completely acceptable. She will receive the same kind of treatment as pregnant married women.

That is likely because, according to the same source, that every child is considered to be a gift. In fact, unlike many other traditional cultures, baby boys and baby girls are equally welcomed.

That means whenever an Inuit woman knows she is pregnant, she is going to be celebrated and end up being treated like gold whether or not she is married as she is considered to be bringing a huge blessing.

14 Inuit Women: No Braids & Jewelry

braids or beads

I have to say I am probably one of the few women out there who really does not like to wear necklaces. And I can tell you right now, I would have hated the idea of wearing a necklace more during pregnancy. They are just so uncomfortable to me and are a drag to have to take off if they have to be unclipped.

However, according to The Classroom, Inuit pregnant women are not allowed to wear necklaces or have their hair braided. That is because there is a risk according to their belief that if they wear necklaces or have braided hair that the baby might end up with the umbilical cord wrapped around its neck.

That means, if they wore plenty of jewelry before being pregnant, they would have no choice other than to store it somewhere and to not wear it again until after the birth of the baby.

If they are used to having their hair in braids, then they will have to adopt another style because wearing braids is too risky for this culture. I am sure that they would adapt to doing both of those things just fine for the sake of increasing the odds of having a healthy and safe delivery.

13 Inuit Women: No Backwards-Walking

Via: Montreal Gazette

I am not sure who would purposely walk through the doorway backward unless you are playing a funny game with your child. Heck, you probably did that when you were a kid too just to try out different things. I am pretty sure I walked through the doorway backward, with my eyes closed too when I was a kid.

However, according to The Classroom, if Inuit pregnant women walk through the door backward, then they are increasing their chance at having their baby harmed. It didn't say because of the risk of them walking backward into a room and then accidentally bumping into something since you can't see where you are walking!

The back of your head does not have eyes. Or even worse, it did not say that the risk had to do with walking backward into an area where there was a stairwell. That would have meant you ending up falling down the stairs all because you kept walking backward, with your back facing the stairs.

Apparently, just walking in a backward fashion is an absolute no-no even if you walk that way in a room where there is nothing to bump into. It is just a rule that pregnant women must follow, that's all!

12 Inuit Women: No Blowing Up Balloons

Via: Media Storehouse

The one thing I also hate doing is blowing up balloons. What if I blew too much air into one and it popped? Nothing is more frightening than hearing that loud bang from a balloon that popped! Especially for someone like me who has always had a fear of very loud noises.

That is why whenever the kids had birthday parties, I would only get balloons that were already blown up and to be kept out of their reach. Otherwise, kids that grab onto balloons will likely end up popping them. And I cannot even fathom and stand the idea of multiple balloons popping at once!

According to The Classroom, Inuit women that are pregnant are not allowed to blow up balloons because it can harm the baby.

Probably the sound of it popping could do some damage, but it sounds like this culture completely forbids pregnant women blowing balloons in general.

That said, if they have older kids and if their kids are having birthday parties, then that means if mom is pregnant, she won't be the one to blow up the balloons. It did not say that being around balloons was forbidden. So someone else would have to take care of that job. In my case, I would have been happy with that.

11 Inuit Women: No Weird Napping

Via: Drpetermessmore.com

When I was pregnant with my daughter, the worst symptom I had in the first trimester was that overwhelming fatigue. If I didn't nap, I would have been in trouble, and, I could never predict when I would need a nap. Sometimes I would be even more wiped out in the morning, so I would take a nap at that time. And on other days, the afternoons got me. So I had to snooze for a while during those afternoons.

However, if you were pregnant and was told that you could not nap at irregular times because it would not be good for the baby, that would make you plenty paranoid and you would be forcing yourself to stay awake at times when you should be napping. According to The Classroom, one rule that Inuit pregnant woman must follow is that they cannot nap at irregular times because that won't be good for the baby.

Now you really have to wonder how they were able to stay awake during those times when they really couldn't. Pregnancy is exhausting, especially in the first and third trimesters. All I can say is that I would have been in trouble if I did not nap at different times, and my daughter is fine by the way!

10 Inuit Women: No Bubbles

Via: Tenor.com

One summer activity that is a lot of fun is blowing bubbles with the kids. I can tell you that my kids absolutely loved it. And they enjoyed popping those bubbles that were being blown as well. In fact, one activity that parents are told to do with their babies and toddlers during the summer is to blow bubbles.

However, according to The Classroom, pregnant Inuit women are not allowed to blow bubbles because doing that is bad for the baby. Now, I have to wonder, since most Inuits reside in the Arctic or in sub-arctic regions, how warm do their summers really get? Are they warm enough to blow bubbles outside? Well, I was under the impression their temperatures are more like spring-type temperatures during the summer months. They can get some warmer days where blowing bubbles with the kids would be an activity they could do.

Though, if mom is pregnant and has a toddler to occupy at the same time, she will have to find another activity. Especially if blowing bubbles is too risky for her to do for the sake of her unborn baby. However, considering that their culture is quite different from what we are used to, then chances are they have their own types of summer activities in place to keep their little ones busy.

9 Inuit Women: Dreams Are Important

Weird dreams happen a lot during pregnancy as I had some very strange ones that I can even remember having to this day. Like for instance, when I was towards the end of my pregnancy with my daughter, I dreamed that while she was in utero, she was looking right back at me. It was sweet but a bit creepy only because that is not something you would expect from a fetus- even if it is your own. It's amazing what our hormones can do such as causing the strangest dreams during pregnancy.

However, according to The Classroom, Inuit pregnant women are told to remember their dreams clearly.

That is because, through their dreams, they will need to look at them for insights about their babies that they are carrying.

And I firmly believe that some dreams are prophetic but not necessarily through dreaming about any kind of future event. Dreams are full of symbols and signs and you may be able to predict some things by understanding what the signs are telling you.

Although some dreams happen as a result of having a bad day or just having a bad time in general in life. There are times when it is best not to read into those nightmares too much. And I am sure that some poor pregnant Inuit women have if they had a bad day and they were terrified that something could be wrong with their babies.

8 Native American Iroquois Moms: No Funerals

Via: Manataka.org

Many pregnant women throughout different cultures are told to not attend funerals and cemeteries. In fact, this superstition was strong in North America during the early to the mid-part of the 20th century. Even I was worried about attending a funeral when I was pregnant with my daughter for this reason.

I also remember going on pregnancy-related forums at the time asking other moms if going to a funeral was going to be risky. Most of the replies I had gotten was that the funeral itself was not a problem, but was told that it was bad luck to attend a cemetery. And I listened to that advice. I went to the funeral but not to the cemetery where the burial was taking place.

According to Stuff, in the Native American Iroquois culture, pregnant women are not permitted to attend funerals because it can increase the risk of a miscarriage or stillbirth happening. Their belief is that if you attend a funeral while pregnant, the unborn baby will decide to return to the Spirit World with the deceased. So that said, these pregnant women would not be attending funerals- nor would they be expected to either given this rule.

7 Cherokee Pregnant Women: No Eating Squirrel

Via: Cherokee, NC

The idea of eating a squirrel is not very appetizing to me, to say the least, and I am sure I would have felt the same way while I was pregnant too. However, there are many cultures that serve squirrel meat for dinner, or for lunch.

The Indigenous people are known to eat squirrel meat and from what I have read in various places is that it tastes like rabbit but a bit sweeter. However, again I can't make that kind of judgment because I have never eaten rabbit and I'm not sure if I would anyway!

However, according to AAA Native Arts, Cherokee pregnant women are forbidden from eating squirrel because if they do, it could mean that they will likely have a difficult labor and delivery. The reason eating squirrel during pregnancy is feared is due to the fact that squirrels run down the tree but also go back up -- not to mention, they are fast little critters!

That is why I never worry about running one over if I see one on the road while I am driving. They see the car and then they run out of the way quite quickly. Because of the fact that they are such fast critters that run in any direction they want, squirrel meat could have a bad effect on how the baby is delivered since the same could happen to the baby.

6 ... Or Rabbit

rabbit dinner
Via: Raisingrabbitsformeat.com

I just talked about how Cherokee pregnant women are not allowed to eat squirrel meat because of the fact that it would have a negative effect on how their babies could be delivered. According to AAA Native Arts, Cherokee pregnant women are also forbidden from eating rabbit meat, but not for the same reason.

Rabbit have large eyes and keep them open, so therefore, if a pregnant woman were to eat rabbit meat, then that means there is a risk that the baby would end up having large eyes and would not be able to close them either!

Therefore, Cherokee pregnant women must pass up the rabbit dish if they were offered that while eating out somewhere.

I personally don't like the idea of eating rabbits, but many cultures enjoy rabbit meat as a dish. I remember the first time I went to a French restaurant while visiting Montreal when I was a teenager and saw that rabbit meat was one the menu. Actually, the term lapin was on the menu which is French for rabbit.

Even though I never got the best grades in French at school, I knew enough of it to know what lapin was and also to not even attempt touching it. Cherokee pregnant women would react the same way because they would not want to risk their babies to have large eyes that they could not close.

5 And No Speckled Trout Either

Via: Romantic Asheville

Whenever it comes to eating fish during pregnancy, that raises a lot of concern understandably so because there are certain types of fish that are high in mercury. Therefore, fish that is high in mercury consumed during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus, according to many studies that have been done over the years.

There are also many other types of fish that have low mercury levels like salmon and trout, and are not only safe to eat during pregnancy, but are encouraged, because they have many important nutrients such as the important Omega 3 fatty acids, which are great for the unborn baby's brain development.

That is why I had so many salmon sandwiches (and egg) when I was pregnant with my daughter. And, it paid off because she is too smart for my own good- at times!

However, according to Teaching History, Cherokee women are advised not to eat speckled trout. Even though trout is a safe fish to eat during pregnancy according to Global News.

In the Cherokee culture, if speckled trout is eaten during pregnancy, the concern has nothing to do with high mercury levels. They fear that the consumption of that fish could cause the baby to have unwanted birthmarks. That said, they would skip the meal consisting of speckled trout and go for a fish like salmon instead since that appears to be safe, even for them!

4 Cherokee Women: No Eating Black Walnuts

black walnuts
Via: Lavenderrosefarms.com

I remember when I was pregnant, I did not want to eat too many nuts until the third trimester. I was told at the time it was safe to eat nuts in the third trimester because the unborn baby would not be at risk of developing a nut allergy at that point. But, eating too many nuts were not advised before that. Small amounts of nuts were always fine to consume, I was told.

I still don't know whether eating nuts or not during pregnancy has any link to whether or not the baby is at risk for developing nut allergies. However, according to Teaching History, Cherokee pregnant women are forbidden from eating black walnuts specifically. The reason for that has nothing to do with the concern about their unborn babies being at risk for developing any kind of nut allergy.

The reason black walnuts have always been off-limits to pregnant women in the Cherokee culture is that the baby would end up with a big nose!

That's right! If the pregnant mom would eat black walnuts, they would risk increasing the risk of their babies having a nose like Pinnochio, whether they were to tell a lie or not! That's a risk no pregnant woman would certainly want to take.

3 Navajo Women Can't Carry Small Animals

carrying small animals
Via: Azfamily.com

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I also had a puppy and there were times when I did have to carry him around. Doing so was not a concern since he was a miniature Schnauzer and light. They are small dogs anyway once they are full grown. And, I am quite certain that many pregnant women have had kittens and puppies that they had to carry around as well. However, in some cultures carrying small animals around is a big no-no.

That has nothing to do with the fact that pregnant are told not to carry anything that has some weight due to the fact that they could injure themselves, especially since, small animals are not heavy. Kittens and puppies are especially light, and one wouldn't think twice before picking these little cuties up!

According to Navajo Central, Navajo pregnant women are not forbidden to carry small animals due to the risk that they may be heavy to carry.

The risk is if these pregnant women were to carry these animals, then their babies could end up looking like that animal they were carrying, and that is not a risk they would want to take!

However, considering that my daughter looks nothing like a miniature Schnauzer, how risky can this really be?

2 Navajo Women Forbidden From Eating Sweets

Via: Theodysseyonline.com

It is a known fact that pregnant women must be careful about how much weight they gain during their pregnancies, and not take the term 'eating for two' quite literally. That also means that they need to be careful with how much sweets they consume. Now, most things in moderation are fine. That applies to allowing yourself to indulge in a sweet here and there. I enjoyed my occasional Lindt chocolates during my pregnancies.

However, in some cultures consuming too many sweets is not allowed. According to Navajo Central, Navajo pregnant women are forbidden from consuming a lot of sweets to avoid the baby from being born weak.

Now, this rule implies that some sweets may be fine to consume. It is probably fine to indulge in a sweet craving here and there.

For all we know, this rule may be just another way of telling pregnant women to be careful not to gain too much weight and not to eat too many sugary foods. Because they would be taking a risk of developing gestational diabetes, and we all know that uncontrolled gestational diabetes is not only dangerous for the mom but for the baby too. For all we know, this particular rule may be one of the few around in the Native culture that has scientific proof.

1 Navajo Moms Forbidden From Looking At Passed Ones

closed coffin
Via: Pinterest.com

Unless you are a mortician, work in forensics, in medicine or do other funeral-related work, seeing a dead body is highly unlikely. Additionally, if you ever encountered a corpse- like if you were jogging in the woods or something, you would likely be traumatized from that experience for the longest time. Especially if the corpse has been dead for quite some time, then let's not even go there.

And, if you were to be unfortunate enough to see a dead body while you were pregnant, you would be dealing with a lot of stress from the trauma from that encounter which would not be good for the baby. However, according to Navajo Central, if a pregnant woman encountered a corpse- a human or animal dead body, that would be a sign of bad luck for the baby. That would mean that the baby would be born sickly if that were to happen.

Seeing roadkill is not something that you can avoid during pregnancy or not. It is unpleasant to look at and it breaks your heart knowing that animals had been run over. But, it happens. However, the truth of this rule is that unless you work in a field where you deal with dead bodies, seeing a human corpse would shake you up while you are pregnant or not. And, again any kind of intense stress during pregnancy is not good for the baby. Therefore, in that regard, there is some truth to this rule.

References: Classroom.synonym.com, Stuff.co.nz, Aaanativearts.com, Teachinghistory.org, Navajocentral.org, GlobalNews.ca

More in Did You Know...