Sunday 10 August 2014

Pregnancy Superstitions

Pregnancy seems to bring out the advisor, expert, midwife, doctor, shaman and superstitious old soul in all sorts of people. I know every culture has some variation of pregnancy/baby superstitions – in England it’s the ring on a chain held over the stomach to determine if it’s a boy or girl (depending on whether the ring swings or goes round, can’t remember which signifies which). Over the years I have come across quite a few of them from Pakistani/Indian/Bengali ladies:
  • You should not buy things for the baby before it is born – something about tempting fate I think. This drives me up the wall because I like to be organised and prepared and mum-in-law keeps trying to discourage me from buying things. I don’t blame her, it’s just the prevailing thinking in her circle. It did mean though that with Darling I didn’t have the things I needed when she was born.
  • If a woman is expecting a boy she will always put her right forward first and if a girl her left foot when she starts walking.
  • The child looks like the person you look at the most, so you should look at good looking people. I think this is why you often find pictures of beautiful babies displayed around pregnant women in India and Pakistan. Mine all start off looking exactly like their dad and then change but retain a strong amount of his influence in some way (hands and feet, build, face, colouring, skin and hair texture, bone structure) and I still complain I don’t get to see enough of him.
  • If a child has a birthmark, it’s where the cord touched them (this one seems really silly to me as the baby seems to be in touch with its cord all the time).
  • If a child has the cord wrapped round it’s neck at birth, you will have a child of the same sex for every time the cord is wrapped round.
  • You must not wear henna when you are pregnant - not sure why, especially as you get so hot when you are pregnant and henna has cooling properties.
  • You should avoid eating too many hot foods earlier in the pregnancy to avoid miscarriage – foods with hot properties are ones like red meat, nuts, fish. I suspect this is based on some variation of ayurvedic medicine.
  • If you become beautiful in pregnancy, you are having a boy. I'm less dubious about this one, as with my boys my skin glowed and my hair felt great, with the girls less so. This time round a friend took one look at me and said I would have a girl because I have lost my glow – we’ll have to wait and see if she is right!
  • One that my family do not practise but which I have come across, is to not put a first born, or a first son, or very beloved baby in new clothes, but rather borrow another babies old clothes – something about protecting the child from the evil eye I think.
I'm sure I have heard many others which I have also managed to ignore, I thought it would be interesting to compare with what other people have come across or have been told regarding pregnancy and newborn’s. Please do share in the comments if you have an interesting one.


  1. In Peru I was told not to look at certain animals when we went to a zoo. My husband's aunt said that her daughter looked at a lot of monkeys when pregnant, and her son looked just like a monkey!
    I remember being pregnant and having someone tell me I shouldn't eat spicy food because it would hurt the baby. Some others say that if you're having a boy, you will get hairy (that explains a lot, lol!), and that a girl will "steal" your beauty.

  2. In my family ( unenlightened Pakistani village-types) when someone has a miscarriage they are not allowed to go near a pregnant lady and especially not to cast a shadow over them, lest the bad luck should befall her too. Silly but true.