Monday, September 16, 2013

Hot State: Pregnancy Beliefs in India

As the second instalment of my Pregnancy in India series, where I first told you about how I was instructed to get pregnant (none of steps involving actual being with my husband), I'll share with you now some of the pregnancy beliefs in India. This is just a partial list of things that I find most interesting. If you have heard any others, please share them in the comments below.

How to avoid miscarriage:
  • Avoid dead bodies: No matter how tight your relationship was with the deceased, the pregnant woman is not to get close to the body.
  • Don't cross a river, especially in the dark. Doing so, you're at risk of the water spirit giving you bad energy.
  • Don't visit any woman who has recently had a child. This too is believed to cause some bad spirit influence over the unborn.
  • Keep your arms down: Raising your arms over your head or resting your hands on your head. This may result in strangling the child with the umbilical cord.
  • Avoid egg, pineapple and, papaya. Some doctors will agree that un-ripened papaya can result in contractions but overall the medical industry considers the three to be safe as long as they are consumed in moderation.
  • Hot Foods: Apply the list I shared with you in Food Myths and Mysteries and don't eat those things during pregnancy.

  • Don't do it!: Pregnant women are discouraged from bathing. Considering we don't have hot water here, I'm not sure it's a temperature thing, which I've heard about even in the US.
  • Washing your hair: Some believe women should not wash their hair for the first 7 months of pregnancy until they have a special religious ceremony. Not adhering to this could stop reincarnation, which happens through the head.

How to prevent birth defects:
  • Avoid the eclipse: The wife should remain in bed and not even glimpse in the direction of the moon. 
    Courtesy of
  • Avoid eye makeup: If the pregnant woman applies eye makeup, there's a chance her child could be born with the same look.
  • The husband should not apply a talik to his wife (that's the smudge between the eyebrows), otherwise the child might be born with the same mark.
  • Parting of the hair: The husband, should however, part his wife's hair three times from front to back during a religious ceremony to ensure "ripening" of the embryo.
  • Locking and Unlocking: If during pregnancy, the wife has to lock and unlock things frequently (think doors) the child may be born with bent, weak fingers.
  • Chopping wood: If the wife chops wood with an axe or breaks a wooden object, the child will be born with "marked" hands.
  • Stamping or Printing: If any stamping or printing is done during the eclipse, the child will be born with an impression on their body.
  • Sewing or stitching: These will cause birth defects.
  • Lay Still: Moving or shifting too much from side to side while trying to find a comfortable sleeping position later in pregnancy may result in suffocation of the unborn.
  • Do not travel in the even months of your pregnancy (i.e. 4th month, 6th month, 8th month).
Courtesy of
How to ensure a good lookin' baby (by Indian standards):
  • Saffron and milk: Drinking this mixture will ensure a fair skinned baby.
  • Oranges: Eating these while pregnant will also ensure a fair complexion in the unborn.
  • Coconut is also consumed (basically any white colour food) to ensure a light skinned baby.
  • Avoid Spinach: It will result in excessive hair growth for the baby.

How to predict the gender: In India, gender determining ultrasounds are against the law due to infanticide rates for female children. A few indicators relied upon to determine the gender of the unborn, subsequently are:
  • Pimples: If you have a lot of pimples while pregnant, you're having a girl.
  • Sweets: Eating more sweet food rather than sour food during pregnancy will increase your chances of having a boy.
  • Carrying Low: You're having a boy.
  • Small, round belly: You're having a boy.
  • A glowing face: You're having a girl.

Ensure a smooth delivery:
  • The mother should eat ghee (clarified butter) while pregnant to ensure a smooth delivery. The kid should slip right out.
  • Avoid overeating: It will result in a large sized baby which will be difficult to deliver.
  • Heavy Lifting: Doing a lot of physical labour during pregnancy will decrease the chances of having to deliver via a C-section and increase your opportunity for a natural delivery.
  • Birthing methods are hereditary: If your mom had a C-section, you'll mostly likely have to deliver the same way.  

So there it is, in a nutshell, your basic guide to pregnancy in India. Do you have any other pregnancy beliefs to share? Do so in the comments below!


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  2. Hi! I love this information! I was wondering if you can tell me what the beliefs and tradition when it comes to newborn babies? All I know so far is they are named on a specific day and there is a grand celebration and also you do a massage on babies. Can you tell me more? that would be great! I am really interested on this!

  3. Thank you for your comment, Beatrice. Have you read my Birth and Beyond post? You can find it here: If there is anything you are curious about but don't find it addressed in the above mentioned post, please do let me know and I'll see what I can find out for you. Cheers!