Sarah writes:

 I know pregnancy is a taboo subject in the Amish culture… what are the does and don’t when discussing? I have very close Amish friends. The woman is about 8 months pregnant by my estimate and today is the first day her husband has even acknowledged her pregnancy to me, and quite honestly, he only acknowledged it because she needs to go see a midwife today and needs a ride. Her sister in law explained to me last year that pregnancy is just not dicussed, especially in front of kids.

And that’s usually how it seems to go.  I never know when Amish friends have one on the way.  I show up and there is another baby or one clearly about to happen.  And even when it’s obvious, it never comes up, even as a mention.

amish pregnancy storkIt’s always struck me as funny.  With English, an impending baby is usually big, joyous news.  Or if not that, people are at least not bashful talking about it, especially when things get un-hidable.

On the one hand, Amish consider children treasures, to the point of calling them the only riches they can take with them to heaven.  You’d think it would be hard to contain the excitement.  Yet I believe, like with many things, there is also a tempering humility–a baby is a gift, a child of God–nothing less, nothing more.

In reality, Amish do discuss pregnancy, just in more restrained fashion.  In An Amish Paradox the authors cite the editors of The Budget newspaper: “the term pregnancy would not be used in letters; a phrase like with child is considered more appropriate.”  They add: “This caution is especially prominent among Old Order and Swartzentruber Amish and appears to be tied to concerns about modesty and privacy.”

I have always thought there’s an element of birds and bees squeamishness as well.  There might be more to it than this, which Amish or Amish-raised readers are probably better qualified to comment on.  Just a topic that has always wondered me, and I guess Sarah too.

Photo credit: Leszek Leszczynski

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