In the U.S., it seems as though we have more pregnancy "rules" than pretty much anywhere else on earth. As is the case in many things we do, Americans have once again left the world perplexed. Case in point, here are five American pregnancy rules that other countries laugh at (and some Americans, too).
While there is indeed much to laugh at when it comes to the way we do things over here, it's worth noting that people who aren't from the United States do have their fair share of misconceptions regarding our pregnancy and childbirth customs and laws. The way my friends from other parts of the world tell it, Americans are all living ascetic lifestyles that somehow also manage to make us gain tons of weight, and we're conditioned to be terrified of everything. To be honest, this isn't far from the truth in my own experience. We do have myriad forces pressuring us to eat this, not that, do this, not that, and avoid everything but your vitamins. It's pretty daunting.
What people don't know is the true story of having a baby in America is that we all give birth on the backs of bald eagles, our children are given cowboy boots to wear out of the hospital, and that our babies are born with cholesterol of over 300 and 75 grand in student debt. This is America.
1. Bills, Bills, Bills
People in other countries cannot believe that we have to pay for everything. In pretty much every other developed country on this planet, maternity care and leave is paid for by the government, noted NPR News. Business Insider reported that the average cost of maternity care is almost 11 thousand dollars.
It's only been that since the Affordable Care Act was written into law that maternity care was even required to be covered by insurance. However, high deductible plans mean that countless women each year will be forced to go into debt to have a child, according to Mother.ly.
On top of that, mothers and fathers are forced to return to work weeks before they might be physically or mentally ready to do so (thanks to our lack of paid maternity and paternity leave). When we do go back to work, the majority of us do not qualify for any subsidized child care, so we work longer hours to pay more for child care without any meaningful assistance, according to The Washington Post.
2. No Sushi
I missed sushi the most when I was pregnant. It's one of my all-time favorite foods. Apparently, while many countries advise caution toward consuming raw fish, in Japan it's just a part of the diet, according to this New York Times article.
3. Going Out Right After Birth
Most of us are told by our doctors to go for walks outside, get fresh air, re-enter the world after giving birth. In China? That's not the case. According to this NPR article (and my Husband's Chinese family), you should spend the month after you give birth in bed. The idea is to give your body a chance to fully recover. Typically, your mother or mother in law would bring your food to you, and help you care for your baby.
Full disclosure, when I had my oldest, my husband's grandmother lived with us. She brought me broth in bed about one million times per day, and bathed my son with the same hand-hewn cloth she used on my husband. Let me tell you: This is the way to go if you can swing it. There was so much love in the way she cared for us, and it was beautiful.
Here in the United States, we are really strict about not having any alcohol during pregnancy, but this is not universal. An article in Quartz wrote that in the UK, they suggest cutting down to one or two drinks per week. However, they also noted that elsewhere in Europe, there is a campaign to get moms to be to stop consuming any alcohol.
5. Gain 25 to 35 Pounds
Since I first read What to Expect While You're Expecting I understood that during pregnancy, you should gain between 25 and 35 pounds. However, in France, the recommendation is to gain between 17 and 22 pounds, according to Frenchly.