Monday, February 15, 2010

Arrivial of a newborn in Russia

I'd like to know ...who cares for mother and baby the first days after birth. Is it the family, like grandmother and aunts, or a nurse?
Is there any difference between giving birth in a city or at the countryside?
And what's the role of the father? I found a site which said that fathers after the birth of their child the whole night go boozing with friends, but I thought that rather unlikely.

Next, is there some party for the family, friends, and neighbors or can they visit whenever they?
Are there special gifts you give the mother and child?
And is it still a custom to wrap the baby?
Asked by Maud, Holland
This is a big subject, but I'll try to summarize everything in several short paragraphs.


Indeed, the world surrounding the birth of a new person rests in Russia purely the women's world. I will disappoint you to say that not that Russian men don't love their newborn children.... it is just rather cultural to leave the pregnancy and everything concerning this mysterious process to the women.

Social studies prove that majority of Russian women won't expect the father of their baby to accompany her through the pregnancy to doctors or even to be present at the labor room.

You will be surprised, but chastity and timidity
would be the right words to describe the feelings of both sides.
Majority of women would have their babies in the official medical establishments where they will stay from 5-7 days after giving a birth (this, by the way, allows woman to rest) and just few would prefer to have a labor at home under the supervision of a midwife. Rural areas won't be much different from the towns.
The level of comfort could vary .....but this will be true for any other country.

One important issue would be the restriction on the visits in the neonatal section of the hospital. In many places, even fathers are not welcomed. Hygiene standards don't allow any foreign infection in the hospital. So grandparents, friends, and relatives will have to wait until the newborn is allowed to go home with his mom. ...And that is why in every family you will have a picture of them on the stairs of the hospital accompanied by a woman wearing white robe holding wrapped pink of blue blanket ))))
Thus, the midwife presents a new member to the family!

...And yes, we do wrap our babies for the first several months of life ))))

The modern life and technology definitely entered life of Russians, but there are some traditions and superstitions which survived all: Tsar, Soviet, and any modern times influence )))

1. During the pregnancy, a woman should not eat in secret (hiding). If she does so: her child could be born fearful.

Modern EXPLANATION: Such desire can appear either in case of food deficiency (which in our time is, fortunately, rare), or in case of eating “forbidden fruits”, for example chocolate or oranges, which can be considered as allergic for the baby. .... (Still not clear how could it make the kid fearful)))

2. Never mention that you are pregnant, except to a father of a child and a doctor! Until stomach becomes noticeable, a woman should not mention to anyone her pregnancy. ...Grandparents, friends included.

: This very ancient popular belief. Once there was an entire “system” of rites, which helped a woman to conceal the pregnancy from the evil spirits, which aimed to harm an unborn baby. Women wore husband's shirts, worked as much as others to hide her pregnancy especially from those, among whom could hide anyone with a "bad eye".

Nowadays contemporary psychologists recommend following this advice in certain cases (especially when there is a threat of the miscarriage). The reason for this is not in “being jinxed” but a probable natural miscarriage during the first term. If this misfortune happens, the possible questions on the state of mother's health can traumatize woman even more than the event itself.

3. The name of a future child must be held in secret. A name of an unborn baby can be considered but shall be held in strict secrecy as the evil spirits can try to harm an unborn baby.

4. Pregnant mother shall not touch domestic animals. A pregnant woman must not play with the cat, even take it into the hands, in the child will otherwise be many enemies.

Modern EXPLANATION: The discovery in XX century of toxoplasmosis, a very dangerous disease for future moms, which is actually transferred by cats, cleared this superstition.

5. No clothes or toys or anything shall be bought or kept in the house where the pregnant woman lives. If grandparents or father buy anything they shall never show it to a future mom. Everyone pretends that there is no change coming in the family's life. Father will have time to get it all once a baby is born. That is what he is doing together with all aunts and grandparents when mother and a baby rest after the labor.
6. A woman shall not cut her hair during the pregnancy. (I couldn't get a decent explanation why).

7. No stranger eyes should look at the baby until the child is the 1-2 month old.

There are no traditions of any baby shower in Russia. Presents are just given to the parents at the occasions.
Usually, the first party would be organized for the christening (if the parents plan to baptize a baby) or for any other
close holiday (New Year/birthday of a member of a family). But more often you will not be invited to the house. Once again - "no infection in the house" is needed.

P.S. Hope, it covers more or less all of your questions. As for the father's drinking all night long after the day when his son was born. You know, I am sure this is not only Russian tradition...but who would blame the happy dad? ))


  1. nice post :)) most of the things are the same in my country too :))

  2. Wow. Interesting post. I'm glad I found this blog =)

  3. Thanks for the nice words to all!
    There is a lot to add to this post as each small nation living in Russian Federation adds own traditions to the mentioned before)))

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Hai, im currently studying in russia. I hve a friend who is pregnant 6 months and 3 weeks. my friend very worried about labouring here because she is foreigner and come with student visa. If the baby born, is there any way can get birth certificate for the baby something. i mean legal identification.. can u explain the process.. i really3 need this information.. thanks.

  6. 6. Woman shall not cut her hair during the pregnancy. (I couldn't get a descent explanation why).

    Pregnant woman should not cut their hair or take up knitting during pregnancy to help protect their child during pregnancy. The weakness of hair connects with a biblical message linked to Samson, although both scissors as well as knitting needles both exist as sharp, potentially dangerous objects

  7. I am so glad I found this blog. Although I have many Russian friends and I am studying Russian this is not covered and I am taking human development and needed differences in birthing cultures. Thank you

  8. Thank you very much. I am friends with and studying Russian, but unless I live within the culture I have no way of knowing certain things. I am currently in a human development class and needed information on cultural differences in pregnancy and childbirth.

  9. My Russian stepfather was freaking out when my mom said we were buying stuff for my baby because it was bad luck and we should wait until after he's born. Well, the birth center will keep me there 6-12 hours after the birth, not 7 days and I'll at minimum need a car seat, something warm to dress him in and a diaper just to get him out the door.

  10. Very helpful post we have Russian daughter-in-law and we couldn't understand her reluctance to embrace her pregnancy.

    1. Same here! Our Russian daughter-in-law is due the end of March and they just told us last night. Our son said it was a Russian tradition, so I started researching to see if that was true. I'm glad to have it explained.

  11. Interesting post. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting . Many thanks. Well done, my friend, well done.
    Russian Baby Names

  12. This is a great blog thanks for the info. My wife is russian and we live in Dubai, how can i get hold of baby books for my new born? many websites that say they have books here don't hold what we are looking for. I would like my boy to learn russian first and the books would help the most

  13. Bizarre traditions and superstitions! I will ask my Russian women friends.