Pregnancy traditions are very different from country to country, which is why we’ve compiled 20 uncomfortable things about being pregnant in 20 countries. Take a trip around the world as we share information about pregnancy in so many interesting world destinations.
This exciting list features unique gender reveal rituals, unusual food restrictions, interesting medical care guidelines, and so much more. Learning about the ways that women experience pregnancy from country to country will be very educational. In our own countries, we also have pregnancy rituals and traditions, and we may not realize just how different expectations for pregnant women are in other nations.
Pregnancy can be uncomfortable, no matter where a woman lives. Women all over the world deal with the usual pregnancy symptoms, such as morning sickness, swollen ankles, and strange food cravings. Fatigue, heartburn, and lower back pain are also common pregnancy symptoms that so many women have to put up with. Where a woman lives while she is pregnant adds another layer to the universal pregnancy experience.
Read on to get the inside scoop on ways that pregnancy can be less than comfortable in other places.
19. EXPECTANT MOMS IN ECUADOR NEED TO WEAR THEIR PARTNER’S SWEATY SHIRT
Pregnant women in Ecuador are expected to put on the sweaty t-shirts that their hubbies take off after the end of hard work days. These shirts may feel unpleasantly damp and they may not smell great, either.
So, why do pregnant women have to follow this ritual?
Well, according to TheBump.com, the ritual is called La Dieta and the act of wearing the husband’s sweaty t-shirt is believed to give the expectant mom more strength. Some pregnant women in Ecuador may not enjoy this ritual, but others who are more superstitious may not mind it. Pregnant women all have their own personalities, no matter where they live.
18. WOMEN IN INDIA ARE WARNED NOT TO CROSS STREAMS AT NIGHT DUE TO SPOOKY SPIRITS
In India, pregnant women are advised to stay away from streams in the evening, because crossing these streams might arouse the notice of some spooky spirits. This rule might be inconvenient, but it probably isn’t too tough for expectant women to follow. Many women who are pregnant might not feel like crossing streams in the dark anyway.
According to Boldsky.com, women in India have a diverse array of spiritual beliefs, so pregnancy rituals may vary widely, based on these beliefs. Asking for blessings from deities who govern reproduction is also not uncommon. The Bengalis are known to ask for these blessings.
17. MOMS IN GERMANY MUST READ A SPECIAL DOCUMENT
Now, it’s time to talk about the fabled Mutterpass of Germany. This is a document that pregnant women who reside in Germany must read. Women who dislike reading must tough it out and work their way through this official booklet, which is packed with sensible and trusted prenatal care tips.
Mutterpass loosely translates to “mother book,” according to Midwifeinberlin.com. While needing to read this booklet may be annoying to some expectant moms, it is packed with valuable information, so having to read it is really not such a bad thing. It is educational, especially for women who are going to be first-time mothers.
16. WOMEN IN NIGERIA THINK EATING MEAT WHILE PREGNANT WILL ALTER THEIR BABIES’ PERSONALITIES
There is a village in Nigeria where healers tell pregnant women not to eat meat because the healers believe that consuming meat gives unborn babies animal characteristics. The characteristics are supposed to match the traits of the animal that has been eaten, according to Delish.com. Now, every pregnant woman in Nigeria may not believe this stuff, but some expectant moms may decide to pass on meat just in case.
When it comes to pregnancy, a balanced meal plan is the way to go. Women who want to have vegetarian pregnancies need to be very mindful about getting all of the nutrients that they need, for themselves and their unborn babies.
15. NATURAL CHILDBIRTH WITHOUT EPIDURALS IS COMMON IN THE NETHERLANDS
Pregnant women in the Netherlands are expected to tough things out during labor. Epidurals aren’t commonplace procedures in this country and this means that laboring women may not access profound pain relief towards the ends of their labors.
While women in this nation do have the option of asking for epidurals, according to Expatica.com, and more women are choosing epidurals these days than they did in the past, the culture is still geared towards encouraging women to get through labor without epidurals. Strategies for managing labor in the Netherlands mean that only just over 11 percent of pregnant women access epidural pain relief before delivering their babies.
14. WOMEN IN CHINA ARE SUPPOSED TO CHILL ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY WHILE PREGNANT
Dialing down the physical activity may sound good to many pregnant women, but what if a pregnant woman misses being active? Lots of women do get accustomed to living very active lifestyles that include plenty of mood-boosting exercises. In China, when a woman becomes pregnant, she is encouraged to take it easy, according to Havingababyinchina.com. China is a nation that believes in a gentle lifestyle for pregnant women.
In China, women who are pregnant are warned not to ride bicycles, pick up heavy objects or do other types of physical work. Pregnant women are supposed to rest a lot, even if they don’t want to.
13. IVORY COAST WOMEN MUST STAY IN THEIR MOMS’ HOMES FOR 30 DAYS BEFORE LABOR
Ivory Coast’s pregnant women must live in the homes of their mothers for a full 30 days before they give birth, according to Whattoexpect.com. Imagine if we had that pregnancy tradition in the US or Canada! If you were pregnant (and maybe you are), would you enjoy living with your mother for this long? Some women might love it. Others definitely would not.
The concept of a pregnant woman resting in a safe place, under the care of the woman who loves her most, does makes some sense. The issue is cabin fever. Having freedom curtailed like that during pregnancy may be frustrating for some Ivory Coast women.
12. PREGNANT WOMEN IN MEXICO MUST AVOID EATING EGGS BECAUSE OF A STRANGE SUPERSTITION
In Mexico, pregnant women are strongly encouraged to cut down on eggs or give them up entirely, according to Mysticurious.com. There is a superstition that pregnant women who overindulge in eggs may give birth to babies who have very bad body odor. Pregnant women in the country lay off the eggs to avoid doing anything that might make their babies smell bad.
While this superstition may seem a bit far-fetched to those in other countries, it is a part of the culture in Mexico. Eggs are nutritious, so, hopefully, pregnant women in Mexico have them sometimes while they are pregnant. Eggs are loaded with vitamins and minerals and contain protein.
11. WOMEN IN BOLIVIA GIVE UP KNITTING DURING PREGNANCY FOR A SUPERSTITIOUS REASON
Some knitted items made in Bolivia are absolutely gorgeous, with vibrant colors and wonderful patterns. Many Bolivian women are very good at knitting, but most decide to stop knitting while they are pregnant, according to Parentscanada.com. The belief that knitting during pregnancy may result in harm to the fetus is the reason why women put down their knitting needles while they are expecting.
The superstition is that the act of knitting will cause the umbilical cord to get tangled around an unborn baby’s neck. As the world becomes more connected through technology (developing nations are still catching up), some of these superstitions may fade out.
10. PREGNANT WOMEN IN THE PHILIPPINES NEED TO CLEAN THEIR PLATES AT EVERY MEAL
Sometimes, pregnant women are ravenous and do not mind eating every scrap of food on their plates. However, there are other times when pregnant women feel nauseated, exhausted, or have other unpleasant symptoms. At these times, shoveling in food may be the last thing that they want to do. In the Philippines, pregnant women are encouraged to clean their plates at every meal.
According to Classroom.com, expectant Moms in the Philippines are also expected to look their best while pregnant. Many people believe that the beauty of the pregnant mother will transfer over to the unborn baby.
9. THAI WOMEN EAT LOTUS BUDS TO MAKE CHILDBIRTH EASIER
Women in Thailand may eat lotus buds during pregnancy. These pretty and edible flowers are believed to promote deep and healing rest and offer other important health benefits. Women who live in Thailand and are expecting babies are also encouraged to drink ginger tea, according to Havingababyabroad.com.
Ginger is a time-honored natural remedy for digestive problems. The tea may be easier to consume than edible flowers. Edible flowers are a culinary trend. You’ll see them added to salads and other dishes in many different countries, but Thailand is unique in terms of its lotus bud pregnancy ritual. Would you eat edible flowers during pregnancy?
8. WOMEN IN CHINA ARE TOLD TO AVOID CERTAIN FOODS DURING TRIMESTER ONE
Women in China are discouraged from eating certain foods because it’s believed that these foods will have an adverse impact on their unborn babies. According to Sciencedirect.com, snake is one of the forbidden foods. It is perceived as making the complexions of unborn babies scalier than they would be otherwise.
Some moms may not mind skipping this food, but others will find it hard to give up. New moms in the country are also expected to go through lockdown phases after giving birth, which allows for adequate postpartum rest and recovery. Moms-to-be do get pampered in China, which isn’t all bad.
7. INDIGENOUS WOMEN IN THE U.S. AVOID BERRIES TO PROTECT UNBORN BABIES FROM BIRTHMARKS
Women in the U.S. who are indigenous are discouraged from eating luscious berries because these tasty types of fruit are believed to boost the odds of birthmarks in unborn babies. Perhaps the bright tone of most berries is what gave rise to this superstition.
According to Classroom.synonym.com, new parents from indigenous backgrounds are also told not to eat meat for a few weeks after their babies are born. The prepartum and postpartum traditions of different countries and regions are fascinating and diverse. Some date back centuries or even further back. Others are newer rituals and traditions. All tell a story about different cultures.
6. EXPECTANT MOMS IN GUATEMALA DRINK A STRANGE BREW TO MAKE LABOR EASIER
An interesting brew made from adult beverages and other ingredients is something that pregnant women in Guatemala are encouraged to drink while they are pregnant. This is sort of a controversial ritual, as beverages aimed at adults during pregnancy are typically a no-no in most countries.
According to Delish.com, this brew, which is made from purple onions, plus grown-up beverages, is believed to make labor an easier process. Since it is perceived as helping pregnant women to get through labor with less discomfort, it’s not surprising that many women decide to drink it down. Most doctors would not recommend this strange brew.
5. WOMEN IN ITALY TRY NOT TO GAIN MORE THAN 20 POUNDS DURING PREGNANCY
In Italy, women are encouraged to gain around 20 pounds during pregnancy. They are not supposed to gain more than that. According to Mindbodygreen.com, this guideline is much stricter than the U.S. guideline of gaining 25 to 35 pounds.
Most women in Italy try to monitor food intake carefully and get moderate exercise in order to adhere to the 20-pound guideline. They don’t feel like they have carte blanche to eat a great deal while they are expecting. They may feel pressure to avoid noshing when pregnancy cravings do strike. Women in the U.S. have more leeway when it comes to gaining during pregnancy. People expect them to gain a fair bit.
4. WOMEN FROM THE NETHERLANDS ARE ENCOURAGED TO EXERCISE A LOT WHILE THEY ARE EXPECTING
In the Netherlands, women who are pregnant like to stay physically active. In this culture, pregnant women are expected to keep getting regular exercise during pregnancy. This is a country where people ride their bikes a lot to get from place to place. It’s also a culture which values natural deliveries and has a lot of home births.
According to Aaptiv.com, this country may be on the right track with its exercise culture for pregnant women, because exercise during pregnancy is believed to have more pros than cons. Still, some women in the Netherlands may not feel like working out while they are expecting. They may do it anyway.
3. PREGNANT WOMEN IN FRANCE MUST TAKE PLENTY OF MEDICAL TESTS
Doctors in France prefer to be very cautious when it comes to taking care of pregnant women. A lot of medical tests are the norm for expectant moms in France. Doctors test for toxoplasma and other ailments. Pregnant women get used to giving samples of urine and other body fluids. Sometimes, expectant moms need to get the tests done away from their doctor’s offices, which can be a little inconvenient.
In this culture, doctors keep close tabs on the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies. Despite the many tests, there is an upside to this country’s pregnancy culture. It helps to protect women and babies.
2. NEW MOMS IN GUYANA MUST BURN THEIR PLACENTAS AFTER GIVING BIRTH
Pregnant women in Guyana burn their placentas after childbirth. The placenta is an organ that grows during pregnancy. In the U.S. and Canada, women might actually eat or drink their placentas, which are delivered right after their babies are delivered. Placentas might be turned into pills or taken in another way.
In Guyana, women do not believe in the health benefits of consuming placentas. They put their placentas into fires until they are ashes. According to Vsointernational.org, many cultures bury or burn placentas. However, there are cultures where placenta-burning is considered a threat to the baby. If you’re pregnant, what will you do with your own placenta?
1. PREGNANT WOMEN IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC DO UNUSUAL GENDER REVEAL RITUALS
In the DR (Dominican Republic), pregnant women participate in unique gender reveal rituals that involve forks, spoons, and knives. One fork is placed under one chair. A spoon goes under another chair. A knife is positioned under a third chair.
The pregnant woman doesn’t know which kitchen implement is under which chair.
According to The Bump, she is then asked to choose a chair. She sits down and the supposed gender of her unborn baby is determined based on which piece of cutlery is beneath her chair. A fork means that gender is still a mystery. A spoon means a baby daughter is on the way. A knife means a boy is coming.
Source: TheBump.com, Expatica.com, Havingababyinchina.com, Whattoexpect.com, Mysticurious.com, Delish.com, Midwifeinberlin.com, Parentscanada.com, Sciencedirect.com, Classroom.synonym.com, Delish.com, Havingababyabroad.com, Parents.com, Mindbodygreen.com, Aaptiv.com, Expat-quotes.com, Boldsky.com