pregnancy

No weddings, no cold water, no watermelons: How women prepare for birth around the world.

Life-Space
Thanks to our brand partner, Life-Space

While women everywhere experience the same physical process of pregnancy, the traditions surrounding it vary enormously depending on where you live.

Of course, there’s medically recognised advice for what to do during pregnancy (for example, avoiding alcohol) but there’s other behaviours that are steeped in superstition or myth.

It’s these customs – passed down from mothers to daughters – that often live on long after anyone can remember why they started.

Let’s take a look at the pregnancy traditions women follow in other parts of the world.

Pregnancy rules around the world.

In some parts of Indonesia, pregnant women avoid eating certain seafoods, believing the animal’s characteristics may influence the pregnancy. It’s claimed a shrimp’s curved shape may give the baby a curved back; an octopus’ sticky tentacles may make the placenta stick; while stingrays hide in the sand and squid move backwards, both of which may give the baby the wrong idea about birth.

In Hindu cultures, women begin wearing red or green glass bangles from the seventh month of pregnancy, as the jangly sounds are thought to comfort the fetus (they’re also great gifts for the midwife). During a special ceremony, a pregnant woman fulfils any ‘last wishes’ (such as food cravings) before she enters the final stage of pregnancy. Rest is encouraged from this point. To achieve this, women may return to their parents’ home, not going back to their marital home until 40 days after delivery.

Elsewhere, some Hispanic women are advised only to bathe in warm water: hot water is thought to lead to circulatory problems, while cold water supposedly makes a woman’s pelvis rigid, leading to a longer, harder birth. Interestingly, Western countries often caution against the use of hot tubs in pregnancy too.

Certain foods are believed to contribute to a large baby – something you’d be keen to avoid if you were giving birth in a rural community without the option of a C-section. Some Indonesian women avoid ice, cold water or spinach water for this very reason, while some pregnant Nigerian women abstain from yams.

Image via Getty.
Image via Getty.
ADVERTISEMENT

China.

While they differ from family to family and woman to woman, pregnancy customs in China aim to defend the child from ‘malign’ influences, drawing on the concepts of yin and yang in traditional Chinese medicine.

To maintain harmony within the body, some pregnant Chinese women avoid eating foods with yin qualities. ‘Cold foods’, such as ice-cream, watermelon and banana are believed to cause poor circulation, while ‘wet-hot foods’ like shrimp, lychee and pineapple are thought to contribute to allergies. And many don’t eat snake as it supposedly might give the baby’s skin a scaly appearance.

Early pregnancy announcements are thought to destabilise the pregnancy, so some families wait until the second trimester to share their news. Pregnant Chinese women are also encouraged to avoid extreme emotions, so they often won’t attend funerals, weddings, birthday celebrations or watch scary movies. To protect the fetus’ energy, they don’t move house or renovate during a pregnancy, nor do they raise their hands above their shoulders. And they don’t prepare the cot before birth as it’s considered bad luck to have an empty bed in the house.

Australia.

So, what are our cultural traditions around pregnancy?

Pregnancy here is quite a medical affair, with regular tests and check-ups, plus antenatal classes to learn about birth and baby care. Just as in China, many women wait until the second trimester to announce their pregnancy, as most antenatal tests are completed by then.

Affluent Aussie couples may even head off on a babymoon – a last child-free holiday, usually in the second trimester when the morning sickness is over but you’re still able to fly. This is becoming so popular that many islands and resorts now offer babymoon packages.

If this is your first baby, your friends and family may throw you a baby shower during your third trimester. Alongside the games, food and parenting advice, there’s often a swathe of gifts to help you get organised for the baby’s arrival. Most couples enjoy getting the nursery ready before the birth.

Many Australian women also implement an exercise routine and healthy diet during pregnancy. Regular walks and yoga sessions are widely encouraged and adopted, while many women increase their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. 

ADVERTISEMENT

While it’s certainly not a tradition in Australia, many pregnant women have begun to consider prenatal vitamins and supplements to support their general health and wellbeing during pregnancy. Probiotics, which can help to support a women’s immune and digestive system health, are sometimes among them. 

Life-Space Pregnancy Probiotic is a premium probiotic formula tailored to support a healthy microbiome. Its 15 strains of beneficial bacteria help to support immune and digestive system health, balance healthy vaginal flora and maintain healthy digestive flora after using antibiotics. It contains Lactobacillus rhamnosus HN001, which may help to reduce the risk of eczema in children with a family history, when taken during pregnancy, breastfeeding and in the first two years of life.

probiotic
Image supplied.

Whether or not you consider probiotics or subscribe to any cultural traditions during pregnancy is entirely up to you. Having a baby is both wonderful and daunting. Enjoy the experience and forge your own path.  

Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet. 

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, Life-Space.

Life-Space

 

Life-Space is Australia’s number one probiotic brand*. It provides premium, multi-strain probiotics, with products formulated for every stage of life.

Life-Space’s core range of probiotics encourage good bacterial diversity to support a healthy microbiome and general wellbeing. With a product for pregnancy and breastfeeding to 60+ and everything in between, Life-Space probiotics support your family’s health at every life stage.

All Life-Space probiotics are guaranteed to contain billions of live, beneficial bacteria. They do not require refrigeration, so can be kept at room temperature. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use.

* IRI Aztec MarketEdge. Total Probiotics – Australia Pharmacy, 12 months MAT: 21/04/18 to 21/04/19.

 

00:00 / ???