From romantic Paris to cosmopolitan New York, and from exotic Istanbul to fast-paced Tokyo, pregnancy is one of the most wonderful journeys one can enjoy. No matter where Mom is, a woman's pregnancy is beautiful and celebrated.
Yet, pregnancy and birth rituals vary between countries and cultures. Take the US and Europe, for example. The New and the Old World - two places but hundreds of rituals, languages, and social norms.
As a matter of fact, there are some pregnancy beliefs across the US that many European moms do not fully comprehend, and vice versa. While many moms in the US do not consume caffeine during pregnancy, expectant women in Italy sip coffee on a daily basis. While hot showers are not recommended in the US, Finnish moms do not hesitate to spend some time in a sauna. While American moms opt for a hospital birth and pain relief options, Dutch moms cherish home births and raw birth experiences.
So, here are 21 things European mamas still don’t understand about being pregnant in the US. In the end, though, pregnant women all over the globe agree that there are no boundaries for love.
21 How Long Does Pregnancy Last?
In all mammals, including human beings, pregnancy is a memorable journey. Elephants’ pregnancies last for over 95 weeks, while opossums experience gestation period of only 12 days.
But how long does human pregnancy last? As we know, the traditional view across the globe is that pregnancy lasts 40 weeks. A baby born before the 37th week is considered preterm. It’s believed that pregnancy shouldn’t last more than 42 weeks, so many overdue moms get induced.
Timelines vary between countries and cultures, though. When it comes to C-sections, in the US, cesareans are avoided before the 39th week. Yet, according to mindbodygreen.com, in some European countries, such as romantic Italy, the standard for C-sections is 38 weeks.
20 Europeans Can Skip Birthing Classes and Plans
From Miami to Berlin, Mom is the most active participant in childbirth and she needs some emotional support to bring a new life into the world. Birth classes can help pregnant women deal with anxiety and understand the whole birth process. Interestingly, with the increasing number of online platforms, more and more couples across the globe choose online courses.
European moms, though, can’t understand, why birth classes in the US revolve mainly around the Lamaze technique. According to webmd.com, there are other birthing techniques which can be extremely helpful.
On top of that, research shows that prenatal care is more accessible in Europe... Simple because many European countries provide free birth classes and prenatal visits!
19 Are C-sections Elective?
Pregnant women all over the world have the right to choose a birth plan which can meet their emotional and physical needs. Yet, as pregnancy and birth are full of surprises, C-sections can save lives. Interestingly enough, elective C-sections are also popular procedures - they give women a sense of control and security.
Nevertheless, some European moms wonder why elective C-sections are so popular in the US. According to statnews.com, the rates of elective C-sections in the US are extremely high.
In tidy Denmark, for instance, many moms deliver at home, without any medical pain relief. Take note that for those Danish moms who opt for a hospital birth, epidurals are scarce.
18 Different Countries, Different Traditions
Europe, often considered the birthplace of mankind, is beautiful and diverse. From the white beauty of the Alps to the playful waters of the Black Sea, Europe and its birth rituals are way too colorful. While in Germany and the Netherlands natural births are the norm, in Turkey more and more moms opt for hospital delivery and elective cesareans.
Baby rituals also vary across countries. While in strict Scandinavia many newborns nap in freezing temperatures; in colorful Bulgaria infants receive blessings during a mystical ritual called 'round loaf'.
Thus, European moms do not understand why American parents talk about Europe as a single entity. After all, Europe consists of more than 50 countries, 24 official languages, and several major religions.
17 Maternity Leave Matters
It's not a secret that pregnancy takes a toll on a woman’s body. Moms deserve some time to recover and bond with their bundle of joy.
Therefore, many Europeans are perplexed by the fact that the US does not guarantee paid parental leave. In many European countries, moms can enjoy some time off before and after birth.
In Austria, for instance, moms get paid 100% of their salary for 16 weeks. According to theinsider.com, Bulgarian moms can get up to 59 weeks of paid maternity leave. In beautiful Germany, on the other hand, new dads can also stay for up to several months with their little one.
16 Breastfeeding Vs. Formula
Breastfeeding or formula feeding? Feeding a baby is one of the most controversial topics. According to webmd.com, moms are judged no matter what they choose: "Some people can be uncomfortable around women while they are breastfeeding. However, if you pull out a bottle of formula, there are those who may criticize you for not feeding your baby what they might consider "nature's perfect food" - breast milk."
That said, many Europeans moms are surprised by the fact that a record number of American mothers are still breastfeeding at six months.
Stats show that Europe has the lowest global breastfeeding rates. Fancy France, in particular, is behind a vast majority of European countries.
15 The Best Age To Get Pregnant Is…
What’s the best age to have a baby? The truth is there’s no good time to get pregnant; there’s always something that gets in the way. After all, having a baby is a personal choice.
However, European moms do not get why many women in the US get pregnant in their 20s. Stats show that the average age across the European Union is 28.9. In Italy, in particular, the average age is 30.8. Sadly, Europe’s population is aging.
Here we should mention that the ages American women get pregnant also vary from place to place. Moms in San Francisco and Manhattan, for instance, get pregnant at age 31.9.
14 Social Media Feuds Around The Globe
Are moms loving and peaceful? No, not at all! In the US, mommy wars are real. Experts reveal that the term 'mommy wars' was coined in the 80s by Child magazine - due to tension between working and stay-at-home moms. Many people believe that this problem is still rooted in the unfair maternity leave policy in the US.
It’s no surprise that many European moms - women who get paid maternity leave – do not understand why American parents get involved in online feuds and social media discussions.
Interestingly, in some developed countries, many moms work part-time. In Switzerland, for instance, part-time work is the norm, and one in four moms is a stay-at-home mom.
13 Baby Showers And Rituals Across Europe
Have you seen pictures of Kim’s lavish baby shower party for baby Chicago? Although regular moms can’t afford cherry blossom trees and caviar, it’s not a secret that baby shower costs can be too high.
While it’s wonderful to be 'showered' with gifts and compliments, many European parents do not comprehend why one would celebrate before the actual arrival of their baby.
Although the baby shower trend has reached the UK, European moms have their own traditions and rituals. According to whattoexpect.com, Dutch moms celebrate only after birth. Funnily enough, they put a stuffed stork sticking through their window to announce the birth of their little bundle of joy.
12 Celeb Moms Across The Atlantic
Talking about celeb moms and their parties, we have to admit that celeb moms influence motherhood worldwide. According to huffingtonpost.com, Americans are fascinated with celebrity, which can be unhealthy and unrealistic. With the increased use of social media and connected devices, celebrity obsession is becoming a controversial topic all over the globe.
Surprisingly, not many European moms are interested in TV stars like the Kardashians. And who is Ellen DeGeneres?
Yet, reality shows are popular all around the world. British moms, for instance, have their "Made in Chelsea" drama. Reality shows and celebs simply deliver glitter and splendor to people who do drive Maserati every single day.
11 Old Habits Can’t Fade Away
It’s not a secret that Mom should follow a healthy lifestyle to help her body and mind thrive. At the same time, pregnancy comes with lots of restrictions and accusations. No adult bevs, no coffee, no cheese, no alone time for mom and dad, and so on and on...
According to qz.com, many European moms are surprised by the fact that expectant Americans follow a strict approach to pregnancy, which doesn’t allow them to enjoy pregnancy.
Let talk about coffee, for example! While in the US, caffeine intake during pregnancy becomes a source of bafflement, many European women sip coffee on a daily basis.
10 The Pregnancy Glow Is Real
From Florida to Sweden, pregnant women are stunning. Let’s admit it - the pregnancy glow is something which can be spotted from space.
Nevertheless, social norms often restrict pregnant women. Unnecessary advice, such as 'eat for two' or 'don’t eat this or that', limit women. Doctors, midwives, and friends treat pregnant women like silly children who should follow a five-a-day diet.
In fact, while a healthy lifestyle is essential, European moms do not understand why weighing pregnant women is such a big deal in the US. On top of that, European moms do not agree with some pregnancy 'don’ts' in the US. Pregnant women in France, for instance, do not hesitate to eat cheeses.
9 Prenatal Care Across The Globe
Medical checkups during pregnancy are essential. Although prenatal care is important, European moms wonder why American moms have so many prenatal visits, which are not associated with better birth outcomes.
Interestingly enough, in Belgium, doctors prescribe massages to pregnant women. Psychological care is also essential.
Take note that while prenatal care across Europe and the US is accessible, in many developing countries pregnant women get less than four medical visits. According to thebump.com, in many places across the globe, prenatal care is simply considered a luxury.
8 Hospitals Can Be Crowded
Waiting for the Big Day can be exciting. While some moms prefer to deliver at home, others opt for a hospital birth. For many European moms, though, maternity hospitals can be daunting.
Although the population of Europe is aging, maternity hospitals can be crowded. In places like Prague, the Czech Republic, maternity wards curb admissions.
In the UK, even shared rooms can be a luxury. According to dailymail.co.uk., shortage of beds forces moms to give birth in lifts and corridors. As spokesman Andrew Lansley said, "New mothers should not be being put through the trauma of having to give birth in such inappropriate place."
7 Baby Items In Europe Are Simple
Nesting during pregnancy is wonderful; decorating the house, folding baby clothes, and so on and on. Figures show that American parents can spend up to tens of thousands on essentials, such as a baby crib, a mattress, and a dresser.
European parents, on the other hand, invest in simple items. In Finland, for instance, pregnant women are given a simple maternity package by the state. The gift consists of a small box, which includes bodysuits, bathing products, and a small mattress. Interestingly, the box with its cardboard walls can be used as a bed. This unique Finnish tradition symbolizes a baby’s equal start in life.
6 American Parents And Unique Baby Names
Naming a baby is a challenging task. After all, parents all over the world want to help their bundle of joy stand out.
While European names are diverse and interesting, many moms across the pond do not understand why American parents are fascinated with unique and rare baby names. Although some European names sound like tongue twisters, names like Apple, Audio, Pilot Inspektor, and Zolten are just too unusual.
As writer Drew Magary said, "There's a bizarre assumption that if you can make your child's name unique, the child will be unique. And that's NEVER the case."
5 Pregnancy Workout Exercises Are Essential
Leading a healthy lifestyle, as explained above, is essential during pregnancy. Although advice on exercise has always been less prohibitive than that on food, we should mention that, in the past, expectant women were discouraged from exercise.
When it comes to pregnancy workout exercises, European moms simply listen to their bodies. For instance, Danish moms are brave enough to cycle throughout pregnancy. Also, it’s interesting to mention that in Finland, saunas are allowed during pregnancy.
Note that swimming, yoga, and brisk walking are not only safe but enjoyable activities.
4 Is It Safe To Travel While Pregnant?
Being pregnant in a special moment in a woman’s life, so a babymoon trip can help couples enjoy the miraculous journey called pregnancy. Note that in a healthy pregnancy, traveling is safe. Interestingly enough, the numbers of traveling families and single parents keep increasing.
When it comes to traveling, driving also becomes a controversial topic. Here we should mention that in Europe, the use of seat belts and child seats is not always mandatory.
In sunny Greece, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, for instance, seat belts are not compulsory for pregnant women.
3 Hospital Stay After Delivery
In our tech-driven society, giving birth in a hospital is common. Usually, women who have uncomplicated natural deliveries stay at the hospital for around two days. The stay after a C-section is around three-four days. Note that these numbers may vary between hospitals.
In some parts of Europe are different, though, things are different. In the Netherlands, for instance, women cherish home births. Also, Dutch women can leave the hospital within 24 hours of birth. Note that only 10% of Dutch women are given pain relief during labor.
Interestingly, in some countries, such as South Korea, women can stay at a post-birth facility for up to two weeks... where they can get enough sleep and pamper their bodies.
2 The Cost Of Having A Baby
Having a baby comes with lots of responsibilities... and financial issues. The average cost of having a baby in the US is way too high, between $10,000 and $30,000. On top of that, it's not a secret that C-sections all over the globe are more expensive than natural deliveries.
An American mom said, "I got admitted to the hospital a month earlier for restricted bed rest… it turned out the hospital stay itself was $2,250 a night, which is ridiculously expensive… On top of that, we had to pay for everything."
For many European moms, these figures sound incredible. In the UK, for instance, having a baby is around $4,500.
1 Some Things Are Just The Same
From Seattle to Moscow, and from Boston to Rome, pregnancy is a wonderful journey. And some things can never change - moms are simply beautiful heroines who bring magic into the world.
Actually, one of my old school friends gave birth in Lausanne, Switzerland; another one in London, England. A Dutch friend of ours gave birth in Sofia, Bulgaria... Just like me! And one thing is for sure: there are no boundaries for love!
So, although American moms and European mamas differ in religious beliefs and medical choices, moms from all over the world agree that pregnancy brings not only sweet cravings but everlasting love.
Sources: babble.com, dailymail.co.uk, huffingtonpost.com, mindbodygreen.com, momsmartnothard.com, sfgate.com, statnews.com, webmd.com, qz.com