An old Russian proverb claims that
labour will go more smoothly if both parents-to-be confess the names of all their previous lovers. In Kurdistan, swinging a chicken
over a woman’s head was thought to ease labour pain.
As well as being encouraged to let
their hair down in preparation for birth (so there are no “ties” that could impede birth), Turkish women are advised to smell the roses while pregnant because the soothing and beautifying benefits will be passed on to their unborn child.
Mexican tradition holds that plenty
of nausea in pregnancy equals plenty of hair on the baby’s head (science, according to Little Gems, seems to back that one up). In Sarawak, Borneo, birth is thought
to go more smoothly if no “pesky” turtles sneak into the room. Why? The turtle’s neck, which can go in and out of its shell, is thought to resemble a baby not coming out properly.
Many British and American
parenting books talk about the importance of putting baby to sleep in the same darkened room for every nap; in Denmark, parents and caregivers aim to give their little ones as many outdoor naps as the weather will allow, believing babies eat more and are more alert after sleeping outside in the fresh air.
Little Gems: Marvels and Musings on Motherhood From Around The World, by Jane Langley, Bridget Fogarty, Becky Ollivier ($30)