16 Weird And Wonderful Birthing Traditions From Around The World

Unusual and unique baby customs and practices from all over the globe


The way we become pregnant is—give or take a few glasses of wine—the same the world over. 

However, what we do after the baby is born has way more bearing on where you're from than you may think. Thanks to centuries-old traditions, customs and a handful of old wives' tales thrown in for good measure, there are plenty of interesting traditions that have been passed down through the ages. 

Whether religious, superstitious, cultural (or just plain weird), here are some of the more unusual birthing traditions from around the globe.

Japan – Forget your MIL moving in after baby arrives—in Japan, it's traditional for new mothers to recover in her parents' home.

Pakistan – ‘Aquiqah,’ aka shaving the infant’s head during the baby-naming tradition, is common in Pakistan and other Islamic republics.

France - New moms are prescribed between 10-20 social-security funded sessions of “perineal re-education,” which helps to revive the pelvic floor post birth.

Balinese – Babies cannot touch the impure ground for the first 105 days of their life—in essence, babies will be held 24/7 for the first three months.

Bulgaria - To ensure that baby does not receive too much praise and attract the attention of the ‘evil eye,’ older women visit the family, recite “may the hen's poop in your eye,” and pretend to spit in the newborn’s eye.

Korea – Postpartum rituals are called ‘samchilil,’ meaning 21 days. Which is exactly how long Korean mothers are expected to rest after giving birth.

Guatemala - It’s customary to throw a newborn baby into freezing cold water.

Irish - Traditionally, couples save their wedding cake and smear some of it onto their child's forehead at their christening.

Spain – It’s traditional to pierce a baby girl’s ears shortly after birth to distinguish her gender.

India – In Bihar in Eastern India, if a woman is not progressing during labour, she must drink a glass of water in which her mother-in-law’s big toe has been dipped.

The Philippines – New parents bury the placenta with a book to guarantee an intelligent child

Sweden – In Sweden, it is not uncommon to find baby’s napping outside without their parents, even in the depths of winter. As the saying goes, “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Brazil – It is customary for new mothers to give her visitors a gift when they visit them in the hospital.

Italy – “Camino della fortuna” dictates that a jacket for the baby is given to the mother-to-be after her third month of pregnancy. It should be worn by baby right after birth for luck.

Finland – For almost 80 years, Finnish expectant mothers have been given a cardboard box by the state. The starter kit includes sheets, toys, and can even be used as a bed.

UK - After the baby is born, family members will “wet the baby’s head” (read: have a drink in honour of the newest addition).

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