Birth is undeniably a beautiful experience, but apparently it can also be extremely bizarre. Here are some of the strangest birth customs from around the world that will probably make you cringe if you’re pregnant:
Bali Babies Mustn’t Touch The Ground
There are a few bizarre ceremonies surrounding a Balinese birth. Setra Ari Ari for example, is a ritual during which parents bury the placenta, as they believe it to be a spirit and their child’s guardian angel. However, an even more unusual custom is not allowing a baby to touch the ground until they are three months. It’s thought that the act of touching the floor will defile the pure newborn, and so parents wait three months before they have a ceremony in which their child touches the ground for the first time.
Irish Couples Put Wedding Cake And Champagne On Their Baby’s Head
Mostly found in Ireland, this tradition requires newly wed couples to keep their wedding cake for their first child’s christening. Parents serve the top tier of cake to their guests, and then sprinkle crumbs on their babies’ forehead to ensure the baby is blessed with luck. Sort of like a leprechaun. Some couples also save a bottle of champagne from their wedding because firstly, they’re Irish, and secondly they open it at the baptism and use it to wet the baby’s head.
Mayans Ice Ice Babies
If you live in a hot country like Guatmala, you want to keep your baby free from heat stroke and rashes, right? To ensure their children don’t get sick, Mayan mothers often place them in icy water where the babies apparently scream the entire time and go to sleep straight afterwards.
Lithuanian Parents Race Their Babies
Every year, Lithuanian babies are entered into a race to find the fastest crawler in the country. More often than not, the competition is hilarious, as the babies have no idea what they’re doing, but the winners are celebrated as champion crawlers. The races are sponsored and attract massive crowds every year, as the competition always takes place on June 1, International Child Protection Day.
Pregnant Women Can’t Gossip In China
These Chinese birth customs may seem a bit more normal compared to that last section, but they’re still quite odd. When a Chinese couple is married, the husband must carry his wife across burning coals into their new home to ensure she can give birth with ease. Once the woman does get pregnant, she’s banned from doing all sorts of odd things. She must not gossip. She must not laugh loudly. She must not look at colours that clash. She must not eat dark food. She must not sit on a crooked mat. She must not have sex. So what must she do? Well, she must sleep with a knife under her bed to deter bad spirits. Obviously.
Chinese Mothers Eat Their Placenta
While the people of Bali regard the placenta as a sacred spirit, others regard it as a tasty post-birth meal. The practice of maternal placentophagy, mothers eating their placenta to absorb nutrition and hormones, is fairly common in the animal kingdom as animals rarely have a handy meal nearby after giving birth. It turns out that traditional medicine in China, Jamaica and parts of India also promote the health benefits of maternal placentophagy, with many practitioners claiming the hormones contained in the placenta can help ease post-partum depression. Although, others disagree with this claim as cooking the placenta obliterates any hormones, and you should never eat a placenta raw due to risk of infection.
Manchu Mothers Give Their Babies Fellatio (????)
This is awkward. The Manchu, an ethnic minority in China, welcome their babies with a whole new level of love. Daughters receive ‘genital tickling’ whilst sons get actual fellatio from their mother, although the Manchu don’t consider the acts sexual at all. Actually, they find kissing to be far more sexual and so Manchu parents never kiss their child’s face.
There’s No Assistance For Nigerian Mothers
Throughout Nigeria, it is expected that mothers give birth to their little bundles of joy without any assistance at all. Although midwives are often around, they should only enter the delivery room once the mother has gone through the birth alone. Unlike the other bizarre birth customs, which have developed due to spirituality and superstition, this particular tradition is the result of poverty and a lack of respect for women in the society. More often than not families begrudge asking for help and so miscarriages and other complications are a huge risk.
The Wolof And Igbo People Spit On And In Their Babies
The Wolof People of Mauritania believe that human saliva can contain words, and so by spitting on their newborns they are blessing them. Traditionally, women will spit on the baby’s face, whilst the men spit it in its ear, and when everyone has spat on the infant they rub the saliva all over it’s head. Meanwhile, the Igbo tribe of Nigeria take their newborns to the ancestral home where a relative chews alligator paper, spits it out and puts in the baby’s mouth.
Pakistanis Think Labor Is Gross So Mothers Must Do It Alone
Similarly to Nigerian mothers, some Pakistani women must also give birth away from their families. However, in Pakistan this is tradition because the culture deems women in labor to be unclean and so they must go to a special, isolated building called Bashleni to give birth.
Men are expected to distance themselves from all the mess that goes on during childbirth so that they themselves don’t become unclean, whilst other women simply don’t want to stick around for the experience. The only women who can enter the building are those who are menstruating, because they are also disgusting.