Pregnancy Superstitions from Around the WorldRonnie Koenig
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When it comes to pregnancy, there are more superstitions around than you can shake a stick at. As a Jewish mama-to-be, Ive already been asked by friends and relatives if I will allow baby stuff in the house before my twins come (its considered bad luck in Jewish culture to buy anything for the unborn).
Many of these old wives tales are deeply rooted in cultural traditions that probably came about as a way to explain miscarriages or then-mysterious birth defects. And while medical science can now offer us explanations for many pregnancy-related symptoms, for some women, it doesn't hurt to follow science and superstition.
Here are some of the most bizarre pregnancy dos and donts from cultures around the world...
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Theres a Creedance Clearwater Revival song that goes, Dont go out tonight theres a bad moon on the rise. Talk about a bad moon: some Ugandans believe if a pregnant woman sees an eclipse, her baby will have a harelip, also known as a cleft palate. The disfigurement occurs in approximately 1 in 500 to 1 in 700 births worldwide.
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When it comes to pregnancy superstitions, the Chinese have plenty. For one, pregnant women are advised to keep a knife under the bed to protect their unborn babies from evil spirits. (Can you really knife a spirit anyway?). Rub your tummy too much? Some Chinese people say this will produce a spoiled child.
And Im not sure where one would even procure a chicken tongue, but according to superstition, rubbing it on a babys lips will ensure that he or she becomes an eloquent speaker.
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If a Turkish woman steals an object while shes pregnant, its thought that the baby will be born with a birthmark in the shape of the looted booty. Pity the kid whose mom pilfered a Shake Weight!
Turkish women are also discouraged from staring at monkeys, bears, or other animals; its said that if you look at an animal or person too often, your kid will end up looking like it! Thats why Ive been spending time staring at pictures of Bradley Cooper — so my son can have that hot douchebag look.
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4: Native American
Native Americans believe that you are what you eat — or rather, that your baby will be affected by what you consume during those nine months. Berries are thought to cause birthmarks, salmon is said to make weak ankles, and seagulls will supposedly cause you to have a crybaby. Better lay off the seagull piccata, ladies!
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Expectant Malaysian parents are discouraged from sitting at the top of a staircase since a blocked passage is sure to prolong the babys delivery. (And you thought it was because you were trying to pass a seven-pound bowling ball out your vagina!) Its also believed that Malay women should not kill animals lest their child take on the features of the slain beast.
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You already knew that Mai Tais and Blue Hawaiians were off-limits during pregnancy, but did you know that you cant get leid either? Many Hawaiians believe that if a mom-to-be wears a lei around her neck, her baby will be strangled by the umbilical cord.
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A Hindu belief says that the numbers seven and nine are lucky in pregnancy, while the number eight is not. Hence why the seventh or ninth months of pregnancy are the best times to hold a baby shower.
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In addition to the no-buying-baby-stuff thing, some Jews also believe that a pregnant woman should avoid funerals and burials. Jewish mystics say that souls may linger around cemeteries, and they could be hazardous for an expectant mother. (This is another superstition I tested when my husband implored me to go with him to visit Ayn Rands gravesite while I was knocked up).
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Youve no doubt heard the one about walking under a ladder being bad luck (pregnant or not), but Polish elders take it a step further. Legend has it that if a pregnant woman does this, her baby will be very tiny. Great, a new way to tease us short people: Hey, your mother was an under-ladder walker!
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This superstition is surely Ja-makin many new moms crazy: When a baby is born, their umbilical cord must not fall on the floor. The new mom must bury it in the ground within three days of the birth and then plant a tree on the same spot. (And you thought you had enough to do figuring out how to work that Diaper Genie!) The tree is known as the baby's tree or "navel-string" tree and is thought to bring good luck to the family.
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In the U.S., a woman is often told that if she looks bad or tired during her pregnancy she's having a girl because a female fetus "steals her beauty." The "ring over the belly" test is also popular across the country; many believe that if you dangle your wedding ring over your belly on a string, and it swings back and forth, it's a boy. If it moves in a circle, you're having a girl.
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