What Pregnancy Looks Like In 20 Different Countries

Pregnancy, birth, and motherhood are experienced by women from all corners of the globe. Nine months of pregnancy, countless, grueling hours of labor and delivery results in a beautiful, warm infant curled inside mothers' arms.

Millions upon millions of females take on a timeless ritual, but not all cultures approach the pregnancy experience in the same way. When it comes to pregnancy traditions and beliefs, there are undoubtedly different strokes for different folks.

Mothers-to-be in the Dominican Republic engage in gender prediction customs that ladies in other parts of the world would deem ridiculous. Moms in Bangladesh believe that one can determine whether or not the baby is a boy or girl by specific physical characteristics of the mother. No one here in America would buy all blue just because a pregnant lady had dark circles under her eyes. Even women in the United States engage in gender prediction folklore. (A high heartbeat signifies a female baby while lower pulses point in the direction of a male heir.)

Different foods, preparation, and medical procedures are common in one country and utterly foreign. While we tend to think of pregnancy as the same forty week stint everywhere, that concept could not be further from the truth. Here is what pregnancy looks like in 20 countries around the globe.

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20 In The Dominican Republic, Women Use A Fork And Knife To Figure Out The Baby's Gender

Discovering the gender of your unborn baby is undoubtedly an exciting time in a mother's life. Modern medicine has given us the ability to see if we will be decking the nursery out in pink or stocking up on trucks and balls long before the baby makes their entrance into the outside world. While most of us women in first world countries would never dream of relying on any other means of gender detection, some nations have different methods of gender determination. Mommies-to-be in the Carribean nation of the Dominican Republic set up three chairs, each with a spoon, fork or knife hidden beneath the seat. If mom sits in the spoon chair, it's a girl she is carrying. If she sits atop of the knife, then a boy is on his way. The fork signifies an undetermined pregnancy, so she will have to keep waiting.

19 In Bangladesh, They Believe That Radiant Skin Means It's A Girl

via whattoexpect.com

The expectant mothers in Bangladesh rely on timeless folklore to discern what gender is rapidly blossoming inside of them. People in this culture adamantly believe that if a woman's skin is radiant and bright throughout her pregnancy, then she is undoubtedly expecting a little lady. If on the other hand, she is looking worse for wear and carrying giant, dark bags under her eyes, then it's a bouncing baby boy causing a ruckus in her belly. Women in this part of the world are also highly encouraged to stay indoors for forty days post delivery, so to protect mom and baby from negative forces.

18 Ivory Coast Women Keep Their Pregnancy On The Down Low For As Long As Possible

via msf.lu/en/countries/ivory-coast

Here in the Western part of the globe, women get ready to announce their pregnancy right after they pee on that telling, little stick! Historically, women in Western cultures will wait until they clear the first trimester when risks are still high before they start spreading the news, but even that is changing these days. Now women announce their baby news as early as six to eight weeks into their forty week stint! Pregnant women on the Ivory Coast could raise their eyebrows at such a premature pregnancy announcement. They typically keep their pregnancy status on the down low for as long as possible, partly because of modesty and partly due to common superstitions.

17 In Guyana, The Baby Shower Happens Only When The Baby Is Nine Days Old

The baby shower is a fun and exciting event that we Western women tend to engage in before the baby arrives. Family and close friends decorate a space, shower the mom and baby with love and gifts, and provide all sorts of foods and treats. It's a day that is meant to celebrate this momentous time in a woman's life. In the country of Guyana, pregnancy is not the time to be throwing a baby shower! The ladies in this South American country hold off on this party until the baby is born and reaches nine days of age. Only then are guests and loved ones encouraged to shower the baby with love and presents. Gold bangles are considered traditional and appropriate gifts for this blessed event.

16 In Turkey, Pregnant Women Can't Look At Monkeys, Camels, Or Bears

Women in Turkey have quite a few "suggested" guidelines to abide by in their pregnancies. They are discouraged from looking at monkeys, camels, and bears. They also have specific dietary no-nos such as no eating fish, rabbit, sheep's head and certainly no gum chewing! They are not to attend any funerals nor gaze upon the dead, but they are allowed to smell roses, look at the moon and stare at beautiful people. I wonder if doctors in Turky give you a handbook of all of these rules once they confirm your pregnancy? There seem to be a lot of guidelines to follow.

15 In Japan, Women Are Expected To Make Very Little Noise During Labor


Japanese women who are awaiting the birth of their babies are encouraged to surround themselves with beautiful thoughts and things for nine long months. They are supposed to listen to positive messages, music, and gaze upon peaceful images. Mommies-to-be in Japan are also expected to eat their fill of fish, tofu, soup, and fresh veggies. This culture emphasizes maintaining a healthy mind, body and for the sake of both the mother and the baby. Once the big day arrives, women are expected to make very little noise during their labor and load up on foods high in protein and carbohydrates.

14 In China, Women Avoid "Sharp" Fruits

Being pregnant in China is no joke. Mommies-in-waiting have all sorts of guidelines and traditional beliefs to adhere to as they wait for their babies to be born. For starters, pregnant women are to avoid all sharp fruits in the first trimester, as they are thought to cause issues. So no giant pineapple for the Chinese pregnant ladies. Crab is also not on the pregnancy menu as many Chinese believe it can contribute to foul temperament in kids. Ingesting squid is a no-no too. According to Chinese folklore, munching on squid might cause the uterus to "stick." They also steer clear of curse words, glue and hammering nails into things.

13 Women Who Practice Judaism Don't Share The Baby's Name Before The Birth

Women of the Jewish faith have some particular expectations in pregnancy and the delivery of their infant. While they are incubating, they are supposed to stay wary of revealing their baby's name. They are also encouraged not to do much in regards to infant preparation. Why? Well, many participants of the Jewish faith consider moniker reveals and baby preparation to tempt or invoke the angel of destruction. No one wants that guy at their baby shower! They also have numerous guidelines for the birth, especially in regards to the husband and the wife and their ability to physically touch.

12 In Jamaica, Many Women Need A Bible To Be In The Delivery Room

via jamaicans.com

In the Jamaican culture, expectant women rely on their devout religious beliefs to see them through their nine-month ordeal. Jamaican women who find themselves pregnant have been known to count on their bible, quite literally actually. The people in this faith and culture make sure that there is an open bible in whatever room is designated to be the place where the birth will physically take place. They find comfort knowing that the "word of God" is within arms reach. The people in Jamaica also believe that a lizard jumping on you signifies you are expecting. Hmmm, that might be a bit of a stretch there.

11 In Korea, There Are Rules About Who Has To Hear The Good News First

When it comes to pregnancy in Korea, there is a chain of command that expectant mothers must follow when they are announcing that they are awaiting a bundle of joy. There is little room for ladies to decide who gets to hear the good news first. The order in which the baby word travels is dictated by years of tradition. That is a pretty wild concept for many of us women living under the rule of Western culture. Pregnant women in Korea must first inform their mother-in-law that a baby is on the way. Then they may go ahead and tell their partners, followed by informing her mother.

10 In Guatemala, Many Women Stay Inside For Their Entire Pregnancy!

via nytimes.com

Most of us can't imagine being cooped up for the duration of our pregnancies. Even though our bodies ache and we start to waddle around in that final trimester, no way would we let our condition keep us entirely indoors for the whole forth weeks! I, for one, would go completely stir crazy without the ability to get in my car and do a bit of shopping or walk around the neighborhood sucking in the fresh air. Pregnant women in Guatemala are near prisoners once they discover that they are expecting. It is common for these women, especially if they are of Mayan descent, to remain inside their home for their entire pregnancy! The thought it that staying put can help to ward off evil spirits and illness and the ill will of others.

9 In Ireland, Some Pregnant Women Avoid Graveyards

Ireland is a country that is famous for its lore, so it is not surprising that when it comes to pregnancy, certain tall tales keep preggo women from doing certain things. While these Irish no-nos can't have science behind them, they are spooky enough to keep expectant mothers from tempting the fates. Folklore is part of this culture after all. In Ireland, some folks believe that if a pregnant woman enters a graveyard, their child will be born weak. People in this region also have an old wives tale that states if a woman twists her ankle on a grave, her child will be born clubfooted. Moral of the story: stay away from graveyards at all costs.

8 Women In Italy Have To Tell Everyone About The Baby ASAP

MILAN, ITALY - JUNE 19: Monica Bellucci attend the Dolce & Gabbana "20 Years of Menswear" during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2011 on June 19, 2010 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Venturelli/WireImage) *** Local Caption *** Monica Bellucci

Some Italians believe that once you start spreading the news of your baby joy around, you pretty much can't stop! You have to keep on telling anybody and everybody that will listen that you have a bun in the oven. The thought is if she doesn't let the world know a baby is on the way, then you chance the baby never speaking or at least not speaking for a very long time. Knowing a thing or two about child development, I can confidently say that this is not accurate, but it's an old school thought of the Italians nonetheless.

7 In Portugal, Some People Believe That Women Can't Interact With Cats Or Dogs During The Pregnancy

Parents in Portugal might find themselves between a rock and a hard place if they have beloved fur babies and then discover that a human baby has taken up residence in momma's tummy. In this culture, some people think that pregnant ladies should have no contact with their cats and dogs until after the baby arrives. Rubbing up on your family dog or favorite kitty might cause your infant to be covered in hair. We doubt many families ship their pups off once two lines appear on the pregnancy test, but perhaps some couples are this superstitious.

6 In Mongolia, Pregnant Women Can't Touch Other Pregnant Women

via parismatch.com

One of the things that I loved most about pregnancy was connecting with other pregnant ladies. They are going through the same things you are going through, and you can bond over your excitement, your fears, your aches and pains, and even your cravings. Pregnant women in Mongolia miss out on this part of life because this culture insists that pregnant women should not touch other pregnant women. For it they do, the genders on the fetuses could get swapped! Because of this belief, they steer clear of other expectant ladies. We wouldn't want all that pink or blue to go to waste because of some belly rubs right?

5 In Bolivia, Pregnant Women Can't Knit

via hiveminer.com

Women who are awaiting the birth of their beautiful baby in the South American country of Bolivia aren't encouraged to produce cute knit booties and cozy blankets for their offspring. While knitting is a timeless custom for many mothers-to-be, it isn't one that Bolivian woman partake in as they incubate. The reason is that there is an old thought in this culture that believes if an expectant woman engages in knitting, it could cause the umbilical cord to wrap around the fetus' neck. Bolivian ladies will need to rely on their family members knitting skills for those handmade gifts it seems.

4 All Pregnant Ladies In Germany Have To Read The Same Handbook

All German ladies who are considering getting pregnant, are pregnant or have just had a baby are required to read a document called The Mutterpass. This German maternal document was introduced back in 1968 and outlines the dos and don'ts of pregnancy. It strives to provide expecting moms with the best knowledge so that they can have healthy pregnancies. All women are supposed to look at the Mutterpass, regardless of their thoughts and views about childbirth, parenting or expected reads in general. We can't help but wonder how often the Mutterpass is updated, considering new science and data regarding fetal and maternal health gets released frequently.

3 In Cyprus, Women Have To Listen To Every Craving To Avoid Their Babies Having Birthmarks

Tons of newborns are born with a harmless birthmark somewhere on their bodies called a "strawberry." The people of the island nation of Cyprus are pretty sure that they know why these marks appear on babies following their births. Some of the people in this region think that if pregnant women ignore specific cravings, like strawberries, then a baby can be born with the mark of the particular, ignored craving. So, to be on the safe side, the women of Cyprus should probably go ahead and eat anything and everything in sight. Just to be safe of course!

2 In The US, Higher Heartbeats Mean The Baby Will Be A Girl

Americans have their own set of pregnancy beliefs that other cultures in the world would undoubtedly find perplexing. Many of the mommies in the United States are sure that they can predict the gender of their unborn by merely gauging how low their bellies are. The general belief is if the belly hangs low, then a boy will be arriving shortly. Moms who carry their bumps high are thought to be housing a little lady. The American women also think higher heartbeats are characteristic of females and lower beats signal a male heir is growing in mom.

1 In Bali, There Are Many Rituals Surrounding Pregnancy And Birth

via brucebriscoe.com

The beautiful mommies of Bali will not be ordering up platefuls of octopi while they are expecting a baby. In this culture, the thinking is consuming octopus while pregnant can bring on a host of delivery problems. Balinese women also engage in a ceremony called the garbadhana samskara 210 days after they first discover they are expecting. This ceremony, done around the seventh month of gestation, takes place in the home or the family temple and includes offerings of loved ones. Ancestors are invited to bless the fetus and ensure safe delivery. Dozens of traditions and rituals also take place after the birth of the baby.

Resources: whattoexpect.com, thestir.cafemom.com, msn.com, anthrodoula.blogspot.com

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