Whether you are superstitious or not, many believe there are dangers in attending a funeral while pregnant. Stress, traditions, and social implications of being pregnant during a funeral might be enough to make the mother-to-be stay at home.
Women who experience high stress at funerals should not attend a funeral while pregnant in order to avoid compromising their future child. Stress-related factors aside, women who are of Jewish, Iroquois, and some Christian backgrounds should avoid funerals due to social and religious implications.
Although it’s debated whether staying at home is preferable to going to the funeral, here are some real (and maybe not as real) reasons as to why a pregnant person may want to stay at home.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and you should consult with your personal physician on any medical concerns you may have concerning your health before attending a funeral. This article is not to be taken as medical advice.
Let’s start off with some real medical reasons not to go and then speak about some reasons you may not have even considered yet!
The Stress of Attending Funerals
It is no surprise that stress is not good for the body. So, if it’s not good for you, it certainly isn’t good for your baby.
Stress changes the chemicals released in your body and brain and can have other physical ramifications on your wellbeing. When a person is stressed, a hormone called cortisol is released in the body. While cortisol may be beneficial to baby’s organ growth and development in small quantities, a pregnant woman should avoid long-term stress at all costs.
When a person is under stress, they may not sleep as well. If you are debating whether or not to go to a funeral while pregnant and are losing sleep over it, it’s time to make a decision ASAP.
Without enough sleep, a person’s immune system can become compromised, further compromising their child. Lack of sleep can lead to complications during pregnancy such as hypertension and gestational diabetes.
A little stress is normal during every pregnancy. High rates of stress, however, are associated with a number of health risks. Stress during pregnancy has been associated with lower birth rates and higher risk for early delivery.
Mothers who are stressed during their pregnancy have higher rates of depression after giving birth. During pregnancy, a mother who is overly stressed might lose their appetite and experience headaches, both of which may lead to long term health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
If you are a person who gets very anxious or stressed at a funeral, then it is probably a good idea to stay at home if you are pregnant. You do not want to put you or your future baby at risk.
If you must attend a funeral, it is wise to practice some stress-reducing tactics in order to make the experience as stress-free as possible.
Practice deep breathing, stretch, and take a warm bath in the days before the funeral. You can also use aromatherapy oils to calm your nerves. Make sure to choose essential oils that are safe for pregnancy, such as lavender, chamomile, and ylang-ylang.
Ylang-ylang oil comes from a tropical tree and is used to relieve pain and inflammation. Be sure to consult your doctor for more information.
If you do not want to stay home for the funeral but are worried about the stressful impacts attending one may have, be sure to consult your doctor. Your doctor should be able to determine if the stress of attending a funeral is manageable for you and your child.
The Stress of planning a funeral
If you find yourself in the most unfortunate situation of having to actually plan a funeral while already pregnant, then you should really consider all your options.
The most obvious option is to delegate the task to someone else, preferably a close family member. If you find that you are having too many disagreements and it’s adding to the stress of the situation, then you will benefit from reading my article on solving these types of issues with family.
Should you take your kids to a funeral?
You may already have some beautiful children and if that’s the case should you take them to the funeral if you do choose to attend?
In some cases attending a funeral as a child is beneficial, but not always. If this is a topic which is adding to your stress then please read the two articles below where I have gone into a lot more detail about two important questions:
- How To Explain A Funeral To A Child Who Is Attending One?
- What Age Is It Appropriate For A Child To Attend A Funeral?
How to pay for a funeral if money is tight?
Another source of stress if you have to plan a funeral while pregnant is definitely the funds to pay for it. Assuming that the deceased did not factor this into their final preparations, you may need to seek out financial help.
I’ve explored different ways to do this in two separate articles I’ve already researched, which you can find below:
- 11 Nonprofit Organizations That Help With Funeral Expenses
- Real Help With Funeral Costs For Low-Income Families
Superstitions Surrounding Funerals
Superstitions surrounding funerals go back many hundreds of years, so much so to the point that no one knows where the superstition originated. There are many which apply directly to pregnant women.
Many cultures have different takes on the matter. Some say when pregnant women are around death, their baby will be stillborn. Others advise that spirits seeking revenge will try to take the baby away from the mother. There is a worry that recently departed souls will attach themselves to the mother, and cause harm to the baby.
While superstitions are not proven to be true, depending on your culture it may be wise to stay at home based on your families’ beliefs.
Even if you do not think anything bad will happen, if your family wants you to stay home and you decide to go, the extra stress and pressure may cause harm to you and your child.
Unsure if your culture has any beliefs advising pregnant women not to attend funerals? Read onto the next section to find out more.
Culture Traditions Surrounding Pregnancy and Funerals
Many cultures across the globe carry strong beliefs that pregnant women should not attend funerals or be in close proximity to death. Those who hold these traditions believe that death is a bad omen for the baby to come.
In Jewish culture, the concept of the Evil Eye is the source of much fear and superstition. The Evil Eye is responsible for a number of bad luck omens, such as a pregnant woman attending a funeral.
The Evil Eye will look for those who are happy and cause them to have bad luck. As pregnant women are traditionally very happy, they are easy targets for the Evil Eye. It is said that the Evil Eye will cast back luck onto the mother, and the mother will have a miscarriage.
While there is no law that prohibits women from attending a funeral, the superstition has roots that go a long way back in Jewish history. The exact source of the belief is a mystery, but there are a few guesses as to why this belief began.
One suggested theory states that there are negative spiritual energy and forces around funerals. This is why some people wash their hands after attending a funeral, in order to fend away bad spirits and energy and to cleanse themselves.
A pregnant woman is seen as more vulnerable than others and will have a more difficult time fending off negative spirits. The woman will be more affected by their negative energy, and the baby will be impacted.
In Iroquois culture, there are rules regarding what a pregnant woman should and should not do. In regard to attending funerals, it is said a pregnant woman will have a miscarriage or stillbirth if she chooses to go.
The belief is rooted in the idea that the unborn baby will connect with the spirit of the deceased and will choose to go back to the spirit world to accompany the deceased.
Those who practice Christianity also hold beliefs regarding pregnant women and funerals. Especially those in the African American Christian culture, pregnant women can attend funerals but cannot view the deceased. It is believed that if the woman looks upon the dead, the spirit of the deceased will put a curse on the child. The curse will cause a baby that appears dead and lifeless for the duration of its life.
Others who may not buy into this belief hold the idea that sad activities during pregnancy will inundate the baby with sad and negative energy. People do not want to give their baby a sad start before they have the chance to step into the world.
Perhaps this is purely a case of a self-fulling prophecy or an unconscious attitude the parents take to the child, who knows.
There are a few practical issues that could keep a woman from going to a funeral. Regardless of whether the person believes it is good or not to attend while pregnant, the mother to be may not be physically able to go.
Bed rest is prescribed for some mothers, requiring those expecting babies to stay in bed for large portions of the day. Bed rest is necessary for conditions such as growth problems in the baby, high blood pressure, vaginal bleeding, and other issues.
It is debatable whether or not bed rest is necessary or even helpful to pregnant mothers, as moderate exercise is healthy and recommended for pregnant women. However, those who are prescribed bed rest should not overexert themselves physically or emotionally, making a funeral an unwise occasion to attend.
Women in the late stages of pregnancy may have trouble with mobility, feel sick, or have trouble sitting in one place for an extended amount of time. If this is the case, it is wise not to attend a funeral. If you do not feel a strong obligation to attend the funeral, the physical discomfort of attending is worth staying at home.
Even if you do not hold any of the beliefs of cultures who look down upon pregnant women attending funerals, you may feel pressure from friends or family who do not believe you should attend. Acting against the wishes of your community may put extra stress on your body, adversely affecting your pregnancy.
If you are feeling anxious or depressed during your pregnancy and do not want to socialize with others, avoiding a funeral where many people will be hugging, touching, and talking to each other is in your best interest. Many people will want to chat about something happy, so being pregnant at a funeral may bring about unwanted attention and social interaction.
The belief that pregnant women should not attend funerals is one birthed out of a mixture of superstition and religion. While there is no evidence that a woman and her child will face misfortune when attending a funeral, it is advised to ensure your pregnancy is low stress.