I found a cute Malaysian news article about Malay and Chinese superstitions that mothers pass on to their daughters.
Some superstitions included in the article were "dry off well after showering," and "don't eat pineapple while menstruating." Here are some of the pregnancy ones:
The list is long and mostly not proven, but our columnist, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar, is no stranger to such motherly advice. “As I deal with a lot of women, usually pregnant mothers, I have heard my share of stories and pantangs (superstitions) before.
“Understandably, they are mostly about things women can or cannot do before, during, and after pregnancy. “Usually, women want their babies to grow up pretty, so there’s this belief that by looking at beautiful pictures, their baby will also be pretty when they are born,” she said.
Also, women would want their babies to have fair skin, said Dr Nor Ashikin. So, as they belief that taking kicap (soy sauce) will make their baby’s skin darker, they usually avoid taking it. Although this claim has not appeared in any scientific journals so far, some women will still frown at any addition of kicap to their food.
“Malays also believe that pregnant women should not kill animals either accidentally or intentionally because their child will take up the features of the animal, while Chinese ladies believe that when they are pregnant, they must not attend funerals,” said Dr Nor Ashikin.
Other Malay pregnancy and childbirth beliefs:
- Pregnancy is a hot state, and women should avoid overheating. Cold foods are usually preferred. After giving birth, women are said to be cold, and drink warm drinks and eat hot foods.
- Women may observe a period of confinement of 30-40 days. During this time they do not leave the house and may stay by a heater and dress warmly.
- During the postpartum period (30-40 days), the woman’s abdomen may be bound. The diet is restricted to hot foods, omitting such items as fruits, vegetables and cold drinks.
- To warm the body, postpartum women may be given a special drink jamu (herbs), made with turmeric. This practice is based on a belief that jamu may relieve cramps and prevent rheumatism.
- If parents are Muslim, the father of the newborn may whisper the azan prayer into the infant’s right ear and the iqamat prayer into the left ear.