13 pregnancy superstitions from across the globe

If you're Chinese, rubbing your belly is considered to be bad luck.
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If you're Chinese, rubbing your belly is considered to be bad luck.

From keeping a dagger under your bed to avoiding a full moon, we look at pregnancy beliefs from across the globe.

1. NEVER TOUCH THE BABY BUMP 
In good news for mothers-to-be who loathe their pregnant belly being touched without permission, a Liberian superstition states that expectant mums shouldn't be touched by strangers. It's believed evils spirits can steal a baby from the womb, so she should only ever let close family members near her, guarding her bump fiercely from strangers.

2. GET SCISSORS AND A DAGGER
The Chinese culture is rife with superstitious pregnancy dos and don'ts. One strange tradition relates to the humble bed, which is an important symbol of fertility in China - sharp objects, such as needles or scissors, are forbidden on or near the bed, as it signals the cutting of the umbilical cord or could lead to birth defects. On the flipside, a dagger is permitted under the bed - that's used to ward off evil spirits who may linger around an unborn child.

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You weren't be able to share that baby scan with anyone if you were living in Bulgaria.
123RF
You weren't be able to share that baby scan with anyone if you were living in Bulgaria.
 

3. AVOID MONKEYS, BEARS AND CAMELS
Call off the trip to the zoo - according to an old Turkish superstition, it's bad luck to look at bears, monkeys and camels when pregnant. And it's not evil spirits to blame this time... apparently expectant mums should only seek out things of beauty to look at if they want to produce a beautiful offspring. (Poster of Chris Hemsworth, anyone?)

4. PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE MOON 
Full moons get a bad rap at the best of times, and they're on the taboo list in pregnancy too. The Aztecs believed if an expectant mother looked at the moon, the child she was carrying would develop a cleft palate. In order to ward this off they'd wear something metallic to deflect the moon's rays.

5. DON'T DO THESE THINGS DURING AN ECLIPSE
Staying on the lunar theme, eclipses are also off limits. In India, they are looked upon as a bad omen and many precautions are put in place to protect them from this event - these include avoiding the use of sharp objects, resting for the duration of the eclipse, covering the windows with newspaper or thick fabric to ward off rays of the eclipse entering the home, fasting, and not bathing until the eclipse has passed.

6. EAT TO AVOID BIRTHMARKS
Birthmarks are a popular subject in superstitious circles. When translated into some languages, the word "birthmark" means cravings - so it's therefore the moral obligation of any mum-to-be to indulge in any food cravings she experiences during gestation, or she risks her baby being born with a mark which resembles the shape of the denied food. (Which is why I consumed my fair share of Caramello Koalas during pregnancy. You're welcome, kids.)

7. AVOID FUNERALS
It some cultures, nurturing a new life and farewelling one which has ended don't mix. The Native American Iroquois culture carry the belief a miscarriage can occur if you attend a funeral, as the unborn child will want to return to the Spirit World with the deceased.

In Jewish cultures, pregnant women are warned to stay away from funerals for fear of these dearly departed souls lingering too close to an unborn child.

8. AVOID WEDDINGS
Another item to cross off your social calendar when you are carrying a child is weddings - in China, at least. We all know the rule of not outshining the bride on her special day and turns out the Chinese honour this highly. If a pregnant woman and bride and groom are in the same room, there is said to be a clash of "qi energy" or "luck" which can backfire and cause misfortune to reign down upon the unborn child.

The Chinese also believe in focusing on one auspicious event at a time so a pregnancy and a wedding cannot co-exist in harmony as all good luck will be cancelled out.  

9. NO FOUL LANGUAGE
As if an expectant mother didn't have enough on her plate, it turns out she is also required to stay pleasant at all times. Using foul language can be seen as cursing your unborn baby - and if you cry and stress, it's predicted you'll give birth to a baby who does the same.

10. DON'T RUB YOUR BELLY
While we are on the subject of potentially damaging your unborn child's wellbeing, Chinese superstition also states a pregnant woman should refrain from rubbing her stomach. This almost unconscious act of affection can apparently lead to the birth of a demanding, spoilt child.

11. WAIT FOR THE BIRTH TO OPEN GIFTS
In bad news for the superstitious mummas who were hoping for a baby shower, some cultures consider it a curse to receive and open gifts for an unborn child. In Jewish circles, it's looked upon as a clear invitation for the evil eye to descend and cause chaos and vengeance for daring to flaunt your happiness to the universe and can result in misfortune or miscarriage.

12. NO PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENTS
You won't be seeing any clever or quirky pregnancy announcements coming out of Bulgaria any time soon. Superstition has it that the gestation is to be kept secret for as long as possible to avoid the pregnancy being jinxed.

13. AVOID THE OCEAN, RIVERS AND LAKES
Finally, if you're planning a babymoon to the beach before bub is born, you might want to rethink it, according to Hmong culture. It's claimed evil, jealous forces inhabit large bodies of water and will try to steal the spirit of unborn babies.

essentialbaby.com.au