Most cultures in the world have their own unique traditions when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth. Russia is no exception. And since this weird culture is so different from that in the U.S. and other western countries, it has lots of unfathomable superstitions about this important stage of a woman's life. While some of their traditions are quite easy to grasp, others remain clear as mud for people living in the western world.
For example, why do women in Russia need to stay away from cutting their hair during pregnancy, can't choose the name of a living relative for their baby, and have to avoid buying newborn-related stuff before delivery? These and many other superstitious beliefs that still govern the minds of moms in Russia will be covered in this list. Prepare to be surprised (and thankful for not living in this country)!
20 Pregnant Women Can't Hear Bad Words Because They Give Birthmarks
In Russia, people think that if someone uses the strong language in the presence of a pregnant woman, her baby is going to have birthmarks. It's hard to understand the connection between certain words uttered out loud and skin condition of a newborn, but people in Russia still believe in this superstition and think that they're supposed to guard an expectant mom against bad words.
19 Oh, These Freezing Russian Winters...
Everyone knows that winters in Russia are freezing cold. But have you ever thought about what pregnant women have to do to keep their precious bellies warm? In fact, there's only one way to do it – they wear lots and lots of clothes. Well, of course, there's always another way and it includes spending a winter in a warmer country, but few women from Russia can afford it, especially during pregnancy.
18 It's Still Considered Best To Have Kids Before 30
All over the world, it's becoming normal to give birth after 30. A lot of women even become moms when they're 40 or more. But not in Russia. There it's still considered best to deliver a baby before 30 and if a woman doesn't do it, she's looked down upon by others. And if, God forbid, she still doesn't have a life partner by this age, she's going to have a hard time.
17 They Receive Money From The Government For Getting Preggers
To encourage young women to give birth in Russia, the government decided to offer them money for it. According to an initiative launched back in 2008, if a woman gets pregnant and gives birth to a baby, she will receive 11,000 rubles (US$175) per month until the child is 18 months of age. If a second baby is born, the mother will get a one-time payment of 300,000 rubles (US$4,700). Sounds motivating.
16 They Don't Arrange Baby Showers
Moms in the U.S. adore baby showers. For many of them, it's the best way to get all the things they'll need when the baby arrives. I mean, who needs to buy a diaper genie and a huge pack of nappies if you know that your friends will give it all to you as a gift on your baby shower?
But in Russia, they don't do it because celebrating a baby before birth is considered bad luck.
15 And They Don't Buy Anything For The Baby, 'Cause It's Bad Luck
Similarly, when it comes to buying some things for a baby, expecting moms in Russia have to wait for the child to be born first and only then stock up on everything they'll need. Like they will have time to go shopping to get some diapers and baby clothes after they bring their newborn at home...
Only grandparents or father of the baby can buy something in advance, but even in this case, they can't show it to the mother until the baby arrives.
14 Wait Till The Baby's Born To Open The Presents
Even if someone is brave enough to buy a present for an unborn baby (which isn't encouraged and generally frowned upon), they can't give this present to the pregnant woman before childbirth because it's another bad juju for people in Russia. In case any circumstances make this person give their present before the baby arrives, the mother should be patient because she can't open it and even learn what it is before the little one is born.
13 Sitting With Legs Crossed Gives Crooked Legs To The Baby
Simply sitting down isn't easy during pregnancy, but women in Russia have limitations even here because they can't sit with their legs crossed. Why? It's because of an old belief that it'll give crooked legs to the baby. It's unclear how the two are connected, but we can tell for sure that sitting cross-legged during the final months of pregnancy isn't comfortable anyway and it affects your circulation, so it actually shouldn't be advised to hold this posture for scientific reasons.
12 Pregnancy Is Kept Secret For Some Time
In most countries, women are happy to announce their pregnancy at least to their family members and friends right away, but in Russia, they're supposed to keep it secret from everyone, except for the father and the doctor until the belly becomes visible. That includes even grandparents and closest friends. They say that concealing a pregnancy is required to ward away evil spirits who will otherwise harm the baby somehow.
11 Eating For Two Is A Huge No-No
In America, many women believe in the "eating for two" stereotype, but in Russia, they don't. They eat only healthy foods, such as fruits, soups, hot cereals, and yogurt. Even if an expectant mom craves certain foods, she isn't supposed to eat them if she knows that it could be harmful to her or her baby. Besides, she has to constantly watch her body mass and ensure that she doesn't overeat or gains too many kilos.
10 Raising Hands Above The Head Is Bad For Pregnant Women (Obviously)
Another thing expectant moms in Russia can't do is raise their hands above the head. The explanation to this one is as *cute* as others – if a pregnant woman raises her head, the unborn child can get tangled in the umbilical cord.
Of course, there's no science behind this superstition. However, even doctors in the western world don't recommend future moms to raise their hands too much, if it makes them tired because pretty much anything that makes you tired isn't recommended during pregnancy.
9 No Haircut For These Nine Months
Having a haircut during pregnancy is a no-no for women in Russia because it's believed that it can cause premature birth.
Again, it's impossible to understand the connection between a haircut and early delivery. Besides, with all the unexpected changes we can experience with our hair due to pregnancy hormones and with the knowledge that little to no pampering is possible after the baby's born, waving goodbye to a hair stylist is a sad prospect.
8 Bad-Looking Mama? It's Going To Be A Girl
People in Russia believe that if an expecting mom doesn't look good, it means that she's going to have a girl. They explain it by saying that a baby girl steals the mama's beauty away. Obviously, science doesn't support this claim and, instead, points out that skin and hair issues are the result of hormonal surges. However, in Russia, they still think that this superstition is true.
7 Looking Amazing? Then It's Probably A Boy
On the other hand, if a woman looks fabulous during pregnancy, they say that she's going to have a baby boy. It's pretty much impossible to understand how a male fetus can make their mom more beautiful. It seems that this superstition is just another nod to the culture based on patriarchy that favors boys over girls. Isn't it time to overcome it already?
6 They Can't Choose A Name Of Someone Who's Still Alive
Choosing a name for your baby is difficult enough by itself, but in Russia, they make it even harder because they don't allow future parents to choose the name of someone in their family who is still alive. Although it's considered a sweet tribute in most other cultures, parents in Russia reserve this honor only for the deceased relatives.
5 Some Women Consider Going To The US To Give Birth
Ever heard of birth tourism? In Russia, it's a thing. Pregnant women from this vast country often decide that they want to give birth in the United States. To do it, they use the help of special agencies (such as Miami Mama) and travel to the U.S. and to Miami in particular shortly before delivery. Since it's a costly endeavor, it's kind of a status symbol in Russia.
4 No Home Birth For Moms In Russia
While in America home birth is becoming a thing, in Russia it's still frowned upon. Women there are supposed to give birth only in the hospitals because it's considered the safest way to deliver a baby.
Well, it actually is the safest way, but it shouldn't keep expectant moms from making a choice of how they want to proceed with giving birth, should it?
3 Dads Can't Be There In A Delivery Room
Most moms in the modern western world can't imagine giving birth without the support of their significant other, but in Russia, they still think that dads aren't supposed to be in the maternity ward during delivery. Whether it's because women prefer to retain a sense of mystery or men don't want to see what's happening behind these doors, it's a known fact that only 22% of couples in Russia choose partnered births.
2 Dads Can't Even Hold The Newborn Right Away
Dads are asked to stay away from their partners and newborn babies not only during delivery but also for a few days after. Just like other immediate family members, they can hold the baby only in about 5 to 7 days. Until then, they can see the mother and newborn through a glass window. It's done to protect the baby from germs.
1 And Finally, Russia Is In Desperate Need Of Pregnant Women
As a result of the low birth rates and high mortality rates, Russia seems to be in a great need for pregnant women these days. If the number of babies born in the country doesn't increase soon, the population of Russia is expected to decrease by more than 20% by the year 2050. For this reason, the government offers the financial incentives we've discussed earlier and attempts to provide proper care to expecting mothers.
Sources: To Discover Russia, Baby Gaga, Britannica, Ask a Russian, Global Government Forum