Bizarre Pregnancy And Birthing Traditions From Around The World
Sure glad I don't have to abide by any of these
Birth is intimidating, touching, beautiful, and messy. While every birth has these in common, there are various cultures around the world with birth customs that are strange and sometimes even cringeworthy. Here’s a glimpse at 7 of those practices.
1. Balinese Women Have A Spirit-Filled Placenta
The Balinese people believe that placentas have a spirit that acts as a guardian angel for the baby. Placentas are carefully saved after the birth and are then buried in a “setra ari ari” (baby placenta grave), adorned daily with special offerings from those that have visited the baby.
It is also believed that any contact with the ground before three months of age would render a baby impure. Therefore, newborns never touch the ground. Of the various ceremonies that take place, the most important is the Ground Touching Ceremony when the baby is three months old. At this ceremony, the baby touches ‘unclean’ ground for the first time and is officially welcomed to the family as a real human being; prior to this age they’re seen as being halfway between earth and a spiritual realm.
2. Restrictions During Pregnancy
Outside of the usual don’t lift heavy objects, avoid alcohol, and avoid smoking; women following traditional Chinese customs have a long list of special rules to follow during pregnancy.
Chinese women are instructed to not raise their arms out of fear that it could have a negative affect on the baby. Expectant mothers are also not to use sharp objects around their bed, as it could give the baby a cleft lip or cause it to be ugly. It’s also advised not to watch anyone painting walls because it can give the baby an unsightly birthmark. To top it off, they cannot consume cold foods - hopefully none of them have cravings for ice cream!
3. Eating The Placenta
After giving birth, most animals eat their placenta. Most humans do not. While we know that the placenta provides nutrition to the fetus, there is a rising belief that it can be nutritious to the mother as well.
Potential benefits include a reduced risk of postpartum depression, an increase in breast milk supply, and help with rebalancing hormones. While there is no science behind this, it’s an age-old practice in traditional medicine in China, and some parts of Jamaica and India that women swear by.
4. Silent Birth
Scientology is outlandish in many aspects and labor and delivery is no exception. This tradition, known as a Silent or Quiet Birth was advised by L. Ron Hubbard and is followed by many Scientologists.
Everyone attending the birth must refrain from speaking as much as possible, as they believe anything spoken is recorded in the ‘reactive mind’ and can potentially create harmful psychological issues for both the mother and child.
5. Spitting On The Baby
In some West African villages there is a birth ritual that entails spitting on babies. The elderly women of the community bless the infant by spitting on its forehead, while the male elders spit in the child’s ear and rub saliva over their head. It is believed that saliva has the power to retain words, thus this tradition is thought to make spoken blessings “stick” to the child. With the blessings "stuck", they're thought to be more likely to come to fruition.
6. Crumbling Cake On The Baby
A popular Irish custom includes saving the top tier of one’s wedding cake for their first child. The traditional Irish whiskey fruitcake is used at the baby’s christening – crumbs are sprinkled on the child’s head to bless them with a long life. The remainder of the cake is served to the guests at the christening.
7. Saving The Umbilical Cord
The Japanese culture has very strong and sentimental views on the connection between mothers and their children. Because of these views, they save the umbilical cord and encase it in a special box called a “heso-no-no”. They believe the cord should be saved because it’s a link to one’s mother.
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