Pregnancy has long been regarded as a mystical condition, since in the understanding of our ancestors, a pregnant woman carried two souls in her body, living on the border between two worlds - our own and beyond. Therefore, many magic rituals and superstitions were devoted to this condition, and some of them survived until our days.
For many nations, pregnancy symbolized fertility. For example, pagan tribes had mascots depicting a woman with a huge belly. Slavic women, who dreamed of conceiving a child, came to touch a pregnant belly.
There was also a belief that if a pregnant woman takes off her apron and hits a cow during mating three times, the cow will be fertile and provide healthy offspring. In addition, the Slavs believed that the farm of a pregnant woman provides good cattle and poultry, and fruit trees and grains grow well on it. During a drought, pregnant women were sprayed with water, as people believed it would help to bring rain.
At the same time, a pregnant woman was thought to be unclean, because she was in too close of a contact with the other world. There were many prohibitions for pregnant women: for example, they could not become godmothers, matchmakers or the bridesmaids at weddings, as well as participate in funeral rites.
They were forbidden to cut hair, stand or sit in a doorway, walk over the shafts, shackle, or a broom, a potato and other vegetables, look at the fire, engage in sewing, handle a rope or yarn, go near the house under construction, go to a cemetery, step on a horse trail and even leave the house after sunset.
It was believed that by denying a pregnant woman’s request, people incurred all kinds of misfortune. If a pregnant stranger knocked at someone's door, she had to be let in, fed and given overnight shelter. You could not raise voice at or scold a pregnant woman.
Some ethnographers believe that all these prohibitions were meant to protect a pregnant woman and her future child, as doctors in those days left much to be desired, and the risk of preterm or pathological labor was relatively high. This is confirmed by numerous protective rituals and charms for pregnant.
For example, they wore clothes turned inside out, without a belt, did not tie their hair with a band - all this supposedly protected from a possible evil eye. Pregnant woman’s neck and wrists were tied with red wool threads, needle were stuck in their collars, a knife, a broken zipper, a coal, a fragment of brick kiln, a bunch of colored yarn tied into a knot or just a pinch of salt was placed in their pockets.
To ensure a smooth pregnancy and prevent miscarriage, pregnant women had to drink rain water from upside-down buckets, and hold a folded fist in their pockets when in public.
Researchers have found quite a logical explanation for some of the prohibitions for the pregnant. For example, it was believed that a pregnant woman could not do sewing, because the child will be born with a patch - an ugly birthmark. The fact is that while doing crafts, women had to sit in an uncomfortable, immobile position, which could hinder the circulation of blood in the body.
And where a belief that if a pregnant woman sits on the threshold, the child may be born unhealthy came from? In fact, drafts enter through an open door, which means that an expectant mother can catch a cold. Also, many other “pregnant” superstitions have real justification.
We still have a superstition that in the first months of pregnancy women cannot tell anyone except the closest people about their pregnancy, otherwise they may be jinxed. In the old days people did not know how to fight the threat of miscarriage, and if that happened, questioning of strangers additionally traumatized women. And today, psychologists advise their patients: if there is a probability of a spontaneous abortion, it is better to keep their pregnancy secret as long as possible. Bad omen is preparing things for a baby in advance.
However, if you are expecting a baby, psychologists recommend staying positive, and the delivery will be more successful. And do not forget that better be safe than sorry!