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Pregnancy

02nd Jun 2021

6 weird and wonderful birthing traditions from around the world

HerFamily

From planting placentas to… well, doing nothing

No matter the culture, religion or family, pregnancy and birthing traditions are often a weird and wonderful way to welcome a child into the world.

Some people wet the baby’s head. Some have a party. Others cause wildfires.

This got us thinking on an international scale about what parents do when their little bundle of joy arrives.

Here are some birthing traditions/rituals from around the globe you may not have heard of before.

Burying the Placenta

Many peoples, including South Indians, the Navajo of America and the Māori of New Zealand, bury the placenta to symbolise the newborn’s link to the earth.

In Bali, following the birth, the placenta is cleaned, placed in a container and buried outside the home during a ceremony. Another custom in Bali is that babies are not allowed to touch the (unclean or unholy) ground for 105 days after they are born.

Having cold baths

In Guatemala it is considered traditional to give the newborn babies a cold or chilled bath. This is believed to promote good sleeping patterns.

Doing nothing

It is common for mothers in China not to do anything for the first month following the arrival of their child in aim of restoring balance to their post-childbirth body. Before you celebrate this concept or prepare to move continents though, know that this 30-day period of confinement actually comes with a lot of rules. You can’t bathe, drink cold drinks (even water!) or coffee, or eat raw fruit or vegetables. You also have to ensure you don’t get a chill by staying wrapped up.

Giving presents

Sure, we’ve heard of family members and friends giving the new parents gifts but we’ve never heard of the parents giving gifts to the people who visit them in hospital. This apparently happens in Brazil.

Sleeping in cardboard boxes

New parents in Finland are given a box of goods by the State. It contains necessities including clothes, nappies and sheets. It also contains a small mattress which, when placed in the bottom of the box, forms the baby’s first bed for their first nap.

Warding off

In India, many women mark their babies’ faces with ‘bindi’ and tie small threads around the baby’s wrists, ankles, and neck to ward off evil spirits. In Ghana, newborns are kept indoors for seven days after birth because of cultural beliefs that they’re most vulnerable to both physical and spiritual harm at that time.