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Did you incorporate any pregnancy/birthing/baby traditions from DP's culture?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
This is my first time starting a thread on MDC, yay!

I'm just curious if any of you incorporated any pregnancy, birthing, or baby traditions from DP's culture, or from your culture for that matter.

My DH is Kazakh, and one of their traditions is that for the first 40 days after giving birth, the baby doesn't leave the house, and is only touched by the parents. In some ways, I can really see the benefits of this--it would give the mom time to recuperate from labor, the new family a chance to settle into their groove, and I guess it would protect the baby from germs.

DH wants to do this 40 days at home, but I have my doubts. I'm worried that if the *baby* has to stay in the apartment (450 sq feet!), then *I* will be stuck inside, too. It would be one thing if we had family here to come over and hang out, or run errands, but we don't. After DH goes back to work, it will be just me and the kid. And I imagine I'll get cabin fever! Besides, who would do the grocery shopping?

There is another Kazakh baby tradition that we're going to do. When the baby is 40 days old, the family throws a special party to officially welcome the baby into the world. The family elders take the baby's clothes off and rub sheep fat into her skin. Then everyone in the family ladles a spoonful of water over the baby, while saying a wish or blessing for her. Isn't that beautiful? DH's parents are coming from abroad for our baby's 40 day party, and hopefully some of my family will get to come into town, too.

So what did all of you do?
post #2 of 25
Congrats on your first post! :congrats

DH is Turkish, so some of the same traditions. I tried to do the 40 day thing, I think I lasted 6.

The only tradition that we've kept up with is to have a nazar boncuğu pinned to DS anytime we leave the house. It has become a much bigger deal for us now that we are in the US, as it instantly identifies DS as a Turkish baby.
post #3 of 25
What traditions?

I think the only one was that Germans don't do baby showers. To be honest, beyond that, I can't think of a single thing different they do over there than we do here.
post #4 of 25
DH is Moroccan. We didn't do the 40 day thing with DD, mainly because we were living in the states and that would be IMPOSSIBLE. If we were in Morocco it might be different. They have a 3 wks old celebration, where a lamb is sacrificed, which of course we didn't do here, but they did it in Morocco in DD's name. And I only wished I could have had some of those kabobs! :
post #5 of 25
We didn't even try to do the 40 day thing. I think they have a similar ritual in Kyrgyzstan, but I honestly didn't know about it until ds was a toddler. My dh and MIL (who was staying with us at the time) weren't really forthcoming about. I think it was because if we any kind of Kyrgyz ritual for infants, then they'd have to give in to a baptism. They were pretty much against a Christian baptism, though we ended up baptizing ds anyway, in a very eclectic ceremony performed by my dad, who is a pastor, in my parents' home. But that's a little off topic!
On ds first birthday, we had a party and did a ritual which is explained here. My MIL was staying with us at that time, so she was able to help us plan that.
post #6 of 25
Quote:
My DH is Kazakh, and one of their traditions is that for the first 40 days after giving birth, the baby doesn't leave the house, and is only touched by the parents.
Funny how common that actually seems to be. Armenia (where dd was born) has pretty much the same thing. I didn't follow it, though. Not even close

I don't think we followed any "traditions" actually. I remember dh saying that it was bad luck (in his culture) to purchase anything for the baby (clothes, stroller, toys, etc) before the baby was born. We did wait until pretty close to my due date, but we didn't wait for the actual birth.

Oh, but once MIL did hide a safety pin in dd's sling apparently to ward off the evil eye. I took it out as soon as I found it, though. Something about a pin so close to a baby's face didn't seem like a good idea to me.
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoGoGirl View Post
This is my first time starting a thread on MDC, yay!

I'm just curious if any of you incorporated any pregnancy, birthing, or baby traditions from DP's culture, or from your culture for that matter.

My DH is Kazakh, and one of their traditions is that for the first 40 days after giving birth, the baby doesn't leave the house, and is only touched by the parents. In some ways, I can really see the benefits of this--it would give the mom time to recuperate from labor, the new family a chance to settle into their groove, and I guess it would protect the baby from germs.

DH wants to do this 40 days at home, but I have my doubts. I'm worried that if the *baby* has to stay in the apartment (450 sq feet!), then *I* will be stuck inside, too. It would be one thing if we had family here to come over and hang out, or run errands, but we don't. After DH goes back to work, it will be just me and the kid. And I imagine I'll get cabin fever! Besides, who would do the grocery shopping?

There is another Kazakh baby tradition that we're going to do. When the baby is 40 days old, the family throws a special party to officially welcome the baby into the world. The family elders take the baby's clothes off and rub sheep fat into her skin. Then everyone in the family ladles a spoonful of water over the baby, while saying a wish or blessing for her. Isn't that beautiful? DH's parents are coming from abroad for our baby's 40 day party, and hopefully some of my family will get to come into town, too.

So what did all of you do?
DH is from a country near Kazakhstan, and their thing is, you can take the baby wherever you want, but the baby and mother can never be alone in a room for 40 days. Which is hard but not as hard as the Kazakh tradition! We did that as much as we could. At least, baby was never alone in a room. As for other traditions, I was in the US so we couldn't have the 40-day gift ceremony, but at least we had something. We will do it for the next baby, too.

I did buy some stuff ahead of time, as well, because I did not have access to all those hand-me-downs that moms in DH's country do until the baby is 40 days. Normally, the baby doesn't wear anything new until 40 days. Also, no hand-me-downs except from children that are at least three years older and perfectly healthy. So no used clothing from used shops, because you don't know who wore it! (!!!! That really depressed my mom but she stuck with it for the first two years, to her everlasting credit.)

When I went to DH's country, we used the traditional cradle and swaddling quilts. Here we will have to make a modified version of it. It's just too expensive to send or have made by hand.

If we'd have been there, we would have followed the traditions completely. But here the conditions did not allow for it.
post #8 of 25
In HK we usually do a 28, 30 or 40 day "month" (confinement period) after the birth. The most common seems to be the 28 day (lunar month) confinement. In Mandarin it's called "zuo yuezi" and in Cantonese "cho yuet".

At the end, there's usually a party/dinner/banquet to celebrate the baby's first full month. In Cantonese it's called "mun yuet" (full month).

In Taiwan, it's become quite a big industry, running zuo yuezi centers. They are not so popular in Hong Kong. I've read that some have been opened in Shanghai.

Various restrictions on eating and bathing are observed during the confinement period- women tend to observe them to various extents depending on their personality, social situation, is it a 1st or subsequent baby, etc.

During pregnancy there are also different folk beliefs that are practiced to varying extents - ranging from "don't eat water melon (too "cold") to "don't watch horror movies", "don't eat lamb or goat".

I followed some of these traditions and didn't others. As far as it went I was middle-of-the-road in my observance compared to other women in HK - more than many expected I would, since I'm not ethnic Chinese.
post #9 of 25


This a great thread. I’m so looking forward to all the fun traditions and rituals that surround childbirth, and I love to hear about the neat things other parents are doing to mark their parenthood/child’s arrival.

I see it all as so joyous, Much less stress inducing than DH & my decisions about who would emigrate to whose country (or go to a third), picking a diverse city to raise our babies to minimize discrimination, what faith to raise them in etc… With our marriage, we are ending up with 3 different wedding ceremonies, once we decided that that “more is more” is a happier philosophy than “pick and choose”, and we are going to do the same with childbirth.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hannahi View Post
My dh and MIL (who was staying with us at the time) weren't really forthcoming about. I think it was because if we any kind of Kyrgyz ritual for infants, then they'd have to give in to a baptism. They were pretty much against a Christian baptism, though we ended up baptizing ds anyway, in a very eclectic ceremony performed by my dad, who is a pastor, in my parents' home. But that's a little off topic!
You know, I really don't think this is off topic, Hannahi.

Religion can be a big part culture, or even a culture in itself. There are lots of ways to be a multicultural family. Couples & their kids might be of different ethnicity, come from different countries or societies, speak different languages, or simply come from dissimilar religious faiths. Any or all of these circumstances creates the need for balancing & respecting differences within the relationship and the family.

A Christian Baptism is a cultural tradition. Very much on topic, lovely & important for you and your family & interesting to me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonnenwende View Post
What traditions?
I think the only one was that Germans don't do baby showers. To be honest, beyond that, I can't think of a single thing different they do over there than we do here.
I have to ask tho, which Germans? Catholics? Protestants? Heathens? Ethnic Germens come in all these faiths and more. And which Americans? America is much more diverse than Germany. Even a just-white-girl like me has family traditions handed down from European grandmothers about how to welcome new babies that may be different from the ones you know, plus the lovely ceremonies of my religion. Even baby showers vary. In my family they happen after the birth, and a baby blanket handmade by the grandmother or other older woman on the maternal side is a traditional gift.

Families like ours really seem to exist on a continuum, from just-a-little different to major-distinctions. Even vastly different experiences within our own little families. My kids for instance, will have an ethnic identity different from either of their parents, and will be raised in a faith that differs from both sets of grandparents.

We will basically be doing two of every kind of ritual, from blessings for conception right on thru to first foods and haircuts. So many ways to celebrate! : The only thing that puts any damper at all is being able to get all the families together often enough since we live 16,000 miles away. I very much want being multicultural to be an asset to my kids. I want to create a home environment where it's OK to be 100% Indian and 100% American, and I doubt I could come up with a better start than surrounding their birth with all the festivities & blessings of both cultures.
post #10 of 25
how interesting! the tradition in my DH's family would have been a huge elaborate baptism with fifty gazillion relatives, but im not catholic and he isnt anymore so we skipped that one (his family was not happy, but they dealt with it gracefully).

40 days in the house would have driven me bonkers, personally. i was the odd duck who wanted everyone to come over to see the wonderful person that i had made as soon as possible, and then i wanted to go out and eat hamburgers and walk the dogs.
post #11 of 25
Christenings are a bigger deal in Denmark than they were where I grew up in the States. DH & I are atheists, but are having a secular name-giving ceremony anyway… partially because it's expected and partially because there aren't many excuses to get the whole family together so I will take the ones I am given.

There have been lots of little things… I hesitate to call them "traditions"… that are just things done differently than I'm used to. When my MIL said I needed to buy a pram for the sole purpose of having DD nap outside on our balcony, I thought she was off her rocker, but I since found out that's 100% normal to do here. I go along with what makes sense, but much to MIL's chagrin, I don't do everything the Danish way. (DH managed to convince me napping outside was good, but we got a hammock instead of a pram.)
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Asha+Joy View Post

I have to ask tho, which Germans? Catholics? Protestants? Heathens? Ethnic Germens come in all these faiths and more. And which Americans? America is much more diverse than Germany. Even a just-white-girl like me has family traditions handed down from European grandmothers about how to welcome new babies that may be different from the ones you know, plus the lovely ceremonies of my religion. Even baby showers vary. In my family they happen after the birth, and a baby blanket handmade by the grandmother or other older woman on the maternal side is a traditional gift.
My husband is 4th generation northern German atheist. There are few serious Christians in the area around where he grew up. Most never set foot in a church and proud of it. I am not kidding when I said there are no traditions in his family and I noticed none from outside of it that were suggested or implied that we do. I spent my entire pregnancy, the birth, and the first year in Germany. Nada. Baby showers are not done in Germany. Gifts were given at random intervals, however, it wasn't forced upon any event, so I can't really call it more a tradition than calling being nice a tradition.

My American family has no traditions regarding the birth of a baby. One line of my family has been here since the 1600s. Others off the boat from Baltic area at the turn of the last century. They were just all lost to time. My daughter was the first baby born to my family in 19.9 years, if you want some idea of why traditions no longer exist in my circles.

I thought also this thread was about major cultural traditions, not small family ones. Besides a baby shower, what is a major American cultural tradition surrounding a birth? I'm drawing a blank here.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Besides a baby shower, what is a major American cultural tradition surrounding a birth? I'm drawing a blank here.
Handing out cigars in the delivery room? You're right, I can't think of any. I think that's why having my son baptized was so important to me. I saw it as much of a blessing/naming ceremony as anything. My DH and in-laws were not comfortable with it because they thought it meant ds would be Christian to the exclusion of all other religions. My dad wrote a service of baptism that used Christian symbology, but mentioned figures from other religions as well.
post #14 of 25
I had intended to follow a similar tradition of keeping my first baby at home for a month, but I ended up taking her out because *I* needed to go out. But I kept her in a sling under my coat most of the time, and a few people asked me when I was due! lol!

When I was pg we did a couple of ceremonies.

When she was a month old we had a formal naming ceremony for her. At 12 months old we had her ears pierced and hair shaved according to tradition.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonnenwende View Post
Besides a baby shower, what is a major American cultural tradition surrounding a birth? I'm drawing a blank here.
Among American Jews (w/ my dad's family as an example) it's a tradition to name a child after an honored relative who passed away - usually by sharing a first initial or sound.

It was also a tradition that it was not good luck to name a child after a living relative.


Folklore....
* My stepdad's first m-i-l told him and his wife that a pregnant woman should not raise her arms above her shoulders because that will wrap the cord around the baby's neck in the womb.

* Some people think that seeing unpleasant things may "mark" the baby.

* Some people think that women will develop cravings for unusual foods or food combinations and such cravings should be indulged.

----
Around the birth...

- It seems to be a common tradition that a mother or sister will go to help out when a woman is going to have a baby. My maternal grandmother came for my mom's births.

- There's a general cultural belief that a birth should be conducted in a hospital, attended by a doctor.

- There's a general belief that birth is extremely painful and that it's better for the mother to have as much pain relieving medication as she desires.

- There seems to be a general belief (promoted by insurance companies?) that it is suitable for a newly delivered woman to leave a hospital within 2 days of a birth.

- Most Americans seem to think it normal to choose a baby name before the baby is born or name it within 24 hours of the birth.

- There appears to be a general cultural assumption that a new mother is ready to "get back to normal" within less than a month.

- There is a developing tradition that family members will be present at the birth. An HK friend of mine (w/ 2 kids) once asked me "Is it true that American women have their family there at the birth, sometimes even their parents?" in a tone of awed horror.

- There appears to be a cultural assumption that a woman will diet and try to "get her figure back" within a year of the birth.

- There seems to be a general belief that it is normal and proper for a baby to sleep separately from its parents.


Those are some of the things I can think of off the top of my head.
post #16 of 25
I wish his culture had ANY decent traditions like that .

They have become utterly and horribly westernized in that respect, it is vomitous (he is from the Rep of Georgia, former USSR). All birthing is done in a completely medicalized fashion. Most people don't even seem to breastfeed anymore. However, SIL is a wonderfully attached mama, in part, she says to my and dh's good example that they saw when we visited them when dd was 10 mos old . She has so far co-slept with both children, nursed them both for well over a year.. in fact the LO is nearly two and i think still nursing, I am SO proud of SIL for going against the 'fashion' of the time :.

However, i must say that Georgians are really wonderfully attached, gentle disciplining parents from what I have observed of different families, makes me so happy.
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Everyone's answers are so interesting!

USAmma, I'd love to hear more about the pregnant ceremonies you did.

I really like the idea of ceremonies for pregnant women. I think it's wonderful to celebrate the pregnant mom and the coming baby somehow during the pregnancy. It doesn't seem like I'll be having a baby shower, which I'm kind of sad about, but at least we'll have a 40 day party!

Hannahi, Kazakhs do a "starting to walk ceremony" too. My in-laws said they don't quite remember what's involved in the ceremony, but they want to do one for our daughter, so they're doing to research it. They said part of it is tying the baby's ankles together with a red thread. It sounds interesting!

Turkish Kate, I've never seen nazar boncuğus before, but they're so pretty! I like the idea of getting some kind of talisman for the baby to have when we leave the house, at least in the first 40 days. (Because I can tell already I'm not going to make it stuck in the house with her that long!) I don't know of anything Kazakhs do specifically to protect from the evil eye, and neither does my husband. We're going to ask his Grandma if she can think of anything (she's kind of the spiritual leader of the family). Maybe that will be a good compromise between DH's culture's tradition of staying in the house completely, and my family's tradition of taking the baby outside with no regard to the possibility of them being given the evil eye.
post #18 of 25
An Israeli friend gave me a copper amulet in the shape of a hand when I had my eldest.

I did a little "googling around" and found that it's called a "hamsa". Both Jews and Muslims use them.

If you google "hamsa" you'll find lots of information and pictures.


Quote:
Originally Posted by GoGoGirl View Post
Everyone's answers are so interesting!

Turkish Kate, I've never seen nazar boncuğus before, but they're so pretty! I like the idea of getting some kind of talisman for the baby to have when we leave the house, at least in the first 40 days. (Because I can tell already I'm not going to make it stuck in the house with her that long!) I don't know of anything Kazakhs do specifically to protect from the evil eye, and neither does my husband. We're going to ask his Grandma if she can think of anything (she's kind of the spiritual leader of the family).
post #19 of 25
we didn't do anything, though i had wanted to do some kind of ritual. I'm an animist from australia, but of german background and dp is israeli.
we had both agreed that the main jewish tradition surrounding the bith of sons; circumcision, would NOT be performed on our child, (though she was a girl, so not relevant anyway).
I love the idea of babymooning; it's something very common in cultures around the world
but for us, we were living in a tipi in the woods at the time, and travelling quite frequently, so that would have been close to impossible.

anyway, this is a really interesting thread.
post #20 of 25
Huh. DH is from Ethiopia and it occurs to me that he's never said much about birth traditions, apart from mom stays in bed for a certain amount of time, and she's fed really, really well.
I'm usually up cooking suppers the day after the birth.

I don't think either of us is invested enough in our home cultures to make a big deal about any particular tradition. We just do what works.

The one thing we always do is have our babies dedicated in church, because that is something we share through our faith. Of course, even that, it's "traditional" to have the baby dedicated when he's still a small infant. We didn't get around to dedicating our last one until he was 13 months old. He screamed so much our bishop joked that he would grow up to be a "wailing prophet".
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