Unique Birth Rituals and Traditions Around the World. Welcoming a new baby into the world is a special occasion that is celebrated in different ways around the world.
From unique rituals to traditional customs, every culture has its own way of celebrating pregnancy and childbirth.
In this blog, we will take a journey around the world to explore birth models and customs in different countries. We will compare and contrast the different traditions and customs, and learn about the midwife model of care that is prevalent in most of the highlighted countries.
Join us as we explore unique baby traditions from around the world, and gain a global perspective on pregnancy, childbirth, and baby traditions.
Birth Rituals and Baby Traditions Around the World
Different cultures and traditions celebrate a child’s arrival in different, unique ways. With the advancement in the education system, technology, and modernization people have converged more or less to the common, global childbirth practice in health centers.
It is estimated that around 130 million babies are born each year and not all babies are welcomed with common traditions, superstitions, and customs.
Some babies are born on the floor of separate houses made for childbirth while others are born through C-sections on the floor of a well-equipped hospital.
Each and every area has special means of celebrating childbirth and pregnancy, that is unique birth traditions and distinct pregnancy customs.
Peculiar Baby Traditions in the Dominican Republic
There is a popular myth among people in the Caribbean country about predicting a baby’s gender. A knife, a spoon, and a fork are placed separately under 3 chairs and the mom-to-be is asked to choose a chair to sit on.
If the expectant mother chooses the chair with a spoon, it’s a baby girl. But, if she chooses the chair with the knife, the baby will be a boy and if she sits on a chair with the fork then the gender of the baby is not determined.
Another unique birth ritual shows a connection between the baby’s gender and the thickness and color of the hair of the mother. The expectant mother with thick and shiny hair will have a baby boy while the opposite suggests a baby girl.
Birth Rituals in Indonesia
The unique baby tradition that prevails in Bali is that people bury the placenta. In the Hindu tradition, the placenta is considered to be alive and almost like a sibling of a new baby. So, the placenta is placed in a container and buried outside the home as part of a detailed ceremony.
Another surprising birth tradition found in Bali is that a newborn is not allowed to touch his/her feet to the ground for 105 days of life. This practice, however, is based on Hinduism which makes the baby’s spirit intact. The newly born baby is treated like a god because he/she is still considered to be a part of the spirit world.
Unique Baby Traditions in Bangladesh
There is also one unique baby tradition in Bangladesh. If the mother’s skin is bright and radiant during pregnancy then the mother is supposed to be carrying a girl, while if the mother’s face consists of dark circles under the eye, the mother is thought to be carrying a boy.
Unique Birthing Rituals in the Netherlands
Prenatal care starts with a midwife in the Netherlands. Here home-birth is more common compared to other developed countries. The expectant mother gets all required services from pregnancy to post-partum and can choose the place of delivery.
Cultural Birth Practices in Turkish
In Turkey, the mother is given a traditional beverage to drink so as to celebrate the new baby and to have a good flow of milk. The drink is called lohusa serbeti i.e. postpartum sherbet. The solution, which is made with sugar, water, cloves, cinnamon, and food coloring, is first served to the mother at the hospital. Similarly, there is no tradition of a baby shower in Turkey. The mother and newborn baby stay at home for 20 days and then they visit the homes of kin and well-wishers.
Baby Shower in Brazil
In this Latin American country, there is no tradition of a baby shower. In contrast to traditions in other countries, the mother gives a basket of presents to the visitors in the hospital. The presents consist of small items like candy and souvenirs, a note from the baby with thanks for visiting them. In addition to this unique birth tradition, a newborn baby is given a red dress that is supposed to keep evil spirits away and a sign of good luck.
Distinct Birthing Rituals in Guyana
In this country, the ninth day of the baby’s birth has a special meaning. The mother marks the calendar and celebrates the baby’s arrival with family and friends. Likewise, Well-wishers bring sweets, money, gifts, and gold bangle bracelets for the newborn. Similarly, the mother takes her first bath on the ninth day. In addition, some mothers burn the placenta which is the symbol of attachment between mother and child.
Pregnancy and Baby Traditions in Finland
This European nation has a new birth system since 1930. Based on the regulation, the Finland government provides a care package to the new mother, which is filled with clothes, bedding, diapers, first aid kit, and bibs. The system which was created for poor families became available to all families in 1949. As a consequence of this government approach, the country has one of the lowest infant mortality and child mortality rates on the globe.
Baby Bathing in Nigeria
In this African nation, there is a special tradition called omugwa, mostly in the Yoruba community. It is the culture in which the baby’s first bath is given by a grandmother and if she is not available, an auntie or close friend. This symbolizes the teamwork and community effort in raising a newborn baby.
Similarly, the grandmother helps the mother to get back to normal shape with routine work as a belly massage and so on. Babies also receive blessings on the ninth day for a baby boy and on the seventh day for a baby girl.
Germany has Unique Baby Traditions
As in the Netherlands, mothers in Germany see midwives as the first persons for their delivery. In fact, midwives are presented in every birth by law. Likewise, the family must choose the official baby name from the list provided by the government office in Germany. If they need to choose another name, they have to give a clear justification.
There is one unique baby tradition in the USA. A KuddleUp, a white blanket with a blue and pink stripe, has been used for around 60 years in almost all hospitals in the country. That is why all newborn babies’ photos look similar.
Birth Rituals in Bulgaria
All employed moms-to-be get one and a half months of fully paid leave before delivery. After delivery, she gets 2 years of paid leave. In addition, if she wishes to get another one-year leave, she can have an unpaid leave. So, the mother’s job must wait for her for 3 years. These are some of the surprising baby traditions around the world.
Armenian Baby Traditions
Armenian families have a tradition, especially in rural areas, to have a lot of children. The birth of a baby boy is the happiest event in the family. Music is played in the church and the house is decorated with green plants and branches. The greenery symbolizes the continuation of the family. The newborn is shown to other people only after 40 days of birth.
At birth, children receive gifts, mainly jewelry (holly crosses, gold medallions, etc). The first male child often is named after his grandfather; the same may go for the first female child. The Armenian mothers closely watch and constantly provide care/food to their children. Feeding a boy with his favorite dish is important; he needs strength to grow.
It is accepted that a person having any happy life occasion puts his hand on the head of his friend or relative saying “tarose kes” (“I pass it to you” )- wishing them the same good luck.
Baby Traditions in the UK
The British families cross the baby’s palm with silver to bring and preserve fortune to a newborn baby. A silver coin is placed in the baby’s hand. It’s believed that if the baby grabs the coin with a closed fist, he will be frugal as an adult. If he drops the coin, he’ll be a free spender. Traditionally, this practice was believed to bring wealth to the baby. Modern-day Irish babies are welcomed with a 50-pence piece. In the past, people would do this whenever they saw a baby in a pram, even if they didn’t know the parent.
Wetting the baby’s head is still followed as a symbol of Irish tradition. The top tier of a couple’s wedding cake is soaked in Whiskey at the wedding. During the baby’s christening, the cake is sprinkled over the baby’s head and the rest is eaten by the adults.
Chinese Baby Traditions
In Chinese culture, there are two very important things, marriage, and babies, without both of these your life is not considered complete. So it makes sense that pregnancy is taken very seriously in China, and traditions related to babies start with marriage. Many couples pin up calendars with chubby-baby boys dressed in red above their bed in the hopes it will bring them luck and in the future, they will have a baby boy.
The next step is pre-conception, couples who are planning on getting pregnant will start traditional strict diets to increase their chances of having a healthy baby. Some grandparents might even push specific types of food that are thought to gift the couple with a baby boy.
Grandparents will be heavily involved in child care and decisions, if you visit any park in China it’s rare to see parents with their kids, instead, it will be grandparents.
Sitting the month is basically what the name implies, a month where the mother must rest. Its traditions include not being able to shower, the mother must not encounter cold drafts, not hold the baby for long periods of time, and strict feeding guides. Zuò yuè’zi traditions change from province to province but it means a month where the mum is waited on like a princess to let her recover.
Video: 7 UNIQUE Birth Traditions from Different Parts of The WORLD
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- WHO Safe Childbirth Checklist https://www.who.int/patientsafety/implementation/checklists/childbirth/en/
- 10 Birth Rituals Around The World https://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/birth-rituals-around-the-world/
- Birthing Traditions https://www.roots.sg/learn/resources/ich/birthing-traditions