Cultural Beliefs Regarding Pregnancy

Cultural Beliefs Regarding Pregnancy

Each culture brings traditions and beliefs regarding the stage of pregnancy and thus passes from generation to generation to this day.

A common factor is the sense of protection that, from different perspectives, is sought to provide to the new member of society, community, or ethnic group. Jewish mothers do not reveal the name they have chosen for their new family member, as this protects him from the angel of death until before the circumcision ritual, which takes place on the eighth day of the birth. Likewise, the custom of not promulgating the chosen name is also applied to girls.

Something similar occurs in African cultures, where the pregnancy period is carried out discreetly, almost secretly, due to the fear that evil spirits may interfere with the health and well-being of the baby. This is how the pregnant woman tries to get away from others and not have any contact with the sorcerers of her tribe, nor does she accept that people outside her family group touch her womb. It is not customary to receive gifts, as there is a belief that this arouses the fury of the gods and ancestors.

On the contrary, in Latin American countries, when the eighth month approaches, family and friends celebrate what is called the “baby shower.” If the sex of the baby is known, presents and clothes of certain colors are given.

In India, there is a ceremony called Valaikaappu with the goddess Rika as the main character, which is celebrated in the eighth or ninth month when the pregnant woman is about to give birth. In her honor, her friends give her bracelets (Indian bangles), rice, flowers, and fruits, interpret songs and prayers, and ask the gods for her and the baby’s well-being.

A particular belief is that of the Malays, who think that before the woman becomes pregnant, the embryo is implanted in the man’s brain for forty days to acquire strength and intelligence from his father and later travels through the body.

In China, pregnant women cannot go near grills, barbecues, or hot pots, since they believe it can affect the fetus. Additionally, the expectant mother should preferentially consume cold foods. In Mongolia, pregnant women believe that if they touch each other, the sex of the babies can be exchanged. An Aztec tradition in Mexico affirms that eclipses during pregnancy can cause a cleft lip, and to prevent it, the mother must carry something metallic, such as a key or a safety pin.


There are also alternative beliefs to ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. In Spain and Latin America, the assertion of knowing if it will be a boy or a girl by the shape of the belly: If it is pointed, it will be a boy, and if it is round, a girl. In Portugal, it is ensured that if the pregnant woman consumes fruits and vegetables in a round shape, the baby will be a girl, and if they are elongated, the baby will be a boy. In the Orkney Islands of Scotland, they say that if the end of the rainbow falls on the pregnant woman’s house, she will have a boy.

Many beliefs and traditions are woven around this moment, which is considered very special and attracts the attention of family groups, communities, and entire cultures. The arrival of a new being into the world deserves all the consideration and care for both the baby and their mother, as well as for his family and social environment.

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