How is it that different cultures come to think so differently about the same thing? In the United States when a woman gets pregnant people want to touch her stomach and they go out and buy clothes for the newborn to be. But, did you realize that in some places these are seen as bad things to do?
In India it is believed that the worst time to be pregnant is during an eclipse. If a woman is pregnant and there is an eclipse then they shut all the windows no matter how warm it is so that the rays from the eclipse don’t strike her. Why do they do this? They believe that if the rays touch her, or her stomach that the baby will become deformed. In India they are forbidden to predict the gender of a child as they do in the U.S., so there are a lot of myths as to whether it will be a boy or girl. One of the most interesting ones that I came across is that if you get red highlights in your hair while you are pregnant then you will have a girl.
In the West African country of Liberia, women believe there are strange evil spirits that can be given to their unborn child. Because of this, only close friends and family are allowed to come close or touch her stomach. Other pregnancy superstitions that women in Liberia have, have to do with breastfeeding. Women won’t breastfeed their child for fear of their husband having an affair why they do. If they do and the women is breastfeeding then the child will die. Another reason women won’t breastfeed in Liberia is because they want to have sex with their husband and they believe that if they do while they are breastfeeding that the semen will mix with the milk and then poison the child.
In Bulgaria, you are not allowed to tell anyone of your pregnancy until after the third month. If you do so it is a bad omen for your baby. In addition, if you sew when you are pregnant you will have a difficult birth and if you eat in secret your child will become a thief. If you kick a dog or cat while you are pregnant, you will have a child who is angry.
In Hawaii, expecting mothers must not wear the traditional lei because this closed lei indicates that the baby will be strangled by the umbilical cord. Thus when they are pregnant women wear a lei that is open at one end.
In China, if you are pregnant you must avoid funerals so as to avoid the negative feelings that will affect the baby; if for some reason they absolutely have to go, they place ribbons on their stomachs to protect them. They also don’t go to weddings for fear that the joy from the baby will overshadow the joy of the bride. Again if they must attend the wedding they must stay as far away from the bride as possible. They also believe that any exposure to microwaves, computers or cell phones may lead to miscarriage or birth defects. Some women go so far as to buy and wear “anti-radiation vests” to protect their babies. In addition to these superstitions, there are a lot of food taboos. For example, because crab meat is seen as cold-natured, the eating of it will cause a miscarriage early in the pregnancy.
In Russia, you must not tell pregnant women that they are glowing or any other nice comment because they think it is insincere and because it is, it will cause harm to the baby. For those who have a baby and they are out in a stroller they tie a red piece of thread around the stroller to protect the baby. A safety pin will also work if there is no red thread. Pregnant women protect themselves in a similar fashion.
Jewish woman won’t have a baby shower while they are pregnant because it is considered bad luck.
As you can see, just because your culture thinks or believes one thing does not mean every culture does. Although it is interesting to look at beliefs from different cultures, it is important that these are just superstitions and have no scientific validity.