Read all about the wacky and weird advice pregnant women were asked to follow in days gone by.


Congratulations, you’ve just discovered that you’re expecting! But hang on if you think pregnancy is simply about you, baby and hubby.

Quite likely, you are bound to receive plenty of advice (whether you welcome it or not) from the excited people around you on what you should be doing or not doing during this important period of your life.

We are not talking about the usual well-intentioned counsel like visiting your gynaecologist regularly, exercising moderately or resting and eating well. Rather, these are suggestions some people insist you follow (even if they sound irrational) ― otherwise, you risk having some unfortunate thing happen to you and baby.

Some of these precautions date back to many decades ago but these are still being touted today to pregnant women. Are these old wives tales or is there some truth in them? We let you decide if and what to follow… plus, also find out what risks you’re taking by flouting the “rules”...

These are suggestions some people insist you follow (even if they sound irrational) ― otherwise, you risk having some unfortunate thing happen to you and baby.

How to ensure a good-looking baby

In many cultures, good looks ranks as one of a mum-to-be’s most sought-after traits for her unborn child. It was once believed that everything she did, ate, thought and saw had a direct impact on her baby’s looks.

1. Refrain from criticising Pregnant Chinese women should not gossip about or criticise anyone, or their baby may look just like the person they are targeting. This is why Filipino women aren’t even supposed to think about people they dislike.

2. Gaze only at beautiful things In ancient Chinese tradition, the pregnant woman has to immerse herself in picturesque settings, gaze at portraits of adorable children and read good poetry. She is also supposed to avoid eating dark-coloured foods such as soya sauce in order to produce a fair and beautiful child.

3. Avoid looking at scary pictures and wild animals A pregnant woman is advised against looking at scary pictures or wild animals as they need to see beautiful things, so as to deliver beautiful babies. In Portugal, even domestic pets are kept away, so that the mum-to-be won’t have a hairy baby or one with a birthmark.

4. Steer clear of imperfect foods In South Korean culture, she has to avoid eating foods that are blemished or broken, and also fruits and vegetables cut into uneven shapes. Tofu is to be avoided, if possible, as these fall apart too easily and duck meat, too, lest baby develops webbed feet.


How to avoid harming your baby

Many old traditions dictate that a pregnant woman’s actions, such as having sexual intercourse, can lead to a miscarriage or physically hurt her unborn child.

5. Inform everyone immediately that you’re pregnant In Italy, if you don’t follow this custom, it’s feared that bubba will take a very long time to speak or worse, never speak at all!

6. No renovations/heavy lifting/sharp objects No heavy lifting for her, nor should she sanction construction work in her house because the hammering and sawing may lead to foetal deformities. Similarly, putting sharp objects like scissors ON her bed can result in the baby being born with a cleft lip. She should also refrain from lifting her hands above the head as the umbilical cord might strangle the baby.

Ironically, Chinese tradition states that the expectant mothers can sleep with knives UNDER her bed, so as to protect her baby and scare away evil spirits. Or she can cut out a pair of paper scissors to hang on her bed curtains.

In various cultures, a pregnant woman’s touch is considered taboo.

How to promote labour and ease the birth

It’s every pregnant woman’s hope to have a smooth labour and deliver a healthy newborn. Across the world, here are some strange things she’s been told to do or not do to ease the delivery process:

7. Throw salt behind herself three times just before her due date (Estonia).

8. Eat lots of ghee near full-term, so that baby will slide out faster (India).

9. Avoid eating octopus (Bali, Indonesia).

10. Loosen all knots and unlock doors as the due date approaches. Also avoid sitting at the top of a staircase as this may block the passage and prolong labour (Malaysia).

11. Don’t sit with crossed legs (Bulgaria).

12. The expectant mum must clasp her hands around a tree and make garments from the tree’s bark (Congo).

13. The couple must reveal all previous lovers’ names (Russia).

Ways to avoid touching an expectant mum

In various cultures, a pregnant woman’s touch is considered taboo.

14. The mum-to-be must skip joyous occasions like weddings While an expectant woman should not attend funerals, the Chinese also believe it’s best that she skips joyous occasions such as weddings, too. The idea is that mixing two happy events together will give rise to the opposite effect. If the pregnant woman must attend, she is warned against touching the bride. At the same time, she must also take care not to let others touch her shoulders.

15. Avoid rubbing your own bump This advice may be hard to observe but Chinese superstition says that the mum runs the risk of giving birth to a demanding and spoiled child if she ignores the taboo.

16. Don’t let strangers or people you don’t trust touch your belly This is a Cuban belief.

17. Two expectant women cannot touch each other. What’s at stake? Older folks in Mongolia will warn you that this move may just result in your baby’s gender being switched!

Photos: iStock

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