Why don’t Amish discuss pregnancy?

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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    1. Kevin Lindsey

      I cant speak specifically to the Amish in this, but I know in the 19th century it was something that just was never mentioned. The point was brought out that in all the diaries on the Oregon trail, noone ever mentions someone being being pregnant, or even mentions the delivery. Usually, as you said, a new baby just appears, or there is a mention that the wagon had to stop for a day. This even occurs in the journals the women kept themselves. It just wasnt done, and Im inclined to think that this attitude has just continued on in the Amish…at least thats theory!

      1. Suzanne M

        Kevin I loved your analogy and how true it was. Thanks !

    2. Rich Stevick

      Things may be changing

      When I first began studying Amish life 20 years ago, I made the mistake of asking one of our host family mothers when their baby was due. It was an awkward moment, and later when I asked another Amish friend about my faus pax, his explanation was that it brought to mind what happened to produce a pregnancy. My mother, may she rest in peace, would have understood perfectly. In the last few years, I have observed, at least among my more progressive Amish friends in the large settlements, that we talk more freely about pregnancy. I am assuming that is true within their culture also, but I confess that I do not know that for sure. I need to ask. Machs goot, Rich Stevick

    3. Osiah Horst


      At one place I worked, the talk around the coffee table was often quite frank for a mixed group. One time in particular, a modest young Christian woman got up and left, saying “Is nothing sacred anymore!? I think this may be part of the reason for the restraint in this area among the plain people. There is much difference of opinion concerning sex education. Some people are afraid that by discussing this with our children, we are introducing them to a subject that they don’t need to know about yet. Others feel certain they will learn somewhere, perhaps someplace inappropriate if we don’t teach them. Some are just not comfortable enough with this sacred? private? subject to talk about it, especially to their children. It may be a subject they can joke about with other men but not discuss seriously with anyone.

    4. Plain Lady

      I would say this is something that is definately hush hush in the real conservative groups. The women do not even wear maternity clothes so when it is too ‘immodest’ to go out in public they simply stay home. In those circumstances there would be little talk about being ‘with child’. Do not think for a moment though, that the rest of the women don’t know. 🙂 All it takes is 2 or 3 others finding out and it will hit the grapevine and the rest is history.
      In the New Order church where the women do wear maternity clothes pregnancy is a more open subject. Once a woman shows up wearing a smock dress, her way of publicly announcing she’s pregnant, then there will be much talk of ‘the baby’.Of course in both cases, there is hardly ever ANY chance of a man saying anything about being pregnant to a woman. However, there is a VERY GOOD chance that a woman will see that another is pregnant and tell her husband and he will then make mention of it to the father to be…..and the news gets around and thus the subject is acknowledged, just in a more round about way than the ‘Englishers’.

    5. Katie Troyer

      Hush Erik, don’t talk about it.

      1. Mary Miller
          1. Katie Troyer

            Erik, I wasn’t serious about hushing up but I just had to remind you that we Amish don’t talk such stuff.

            1. I figured so Katie, having gotten some sense of your humor I figured I was being joshed a little here…anyway, not to worry, “mum’s” the word… 😉

          2. Shari

            Amish pregnancy

            Recently we (my husband and I who are English) ordered some cedar wood from Amish who live close. I noticed the wife was very “with child” and such a sweet lady. We went to pick up the lumber and I had a gift for her and the other 6 children (a baby quilt and 2 bags of store bought candy)
            I ask the husband how his wife was (we were at the mill) and if the baby had arrived. He quickly looked at me and guided us away from 3 of their adorable and amazingly strong very young boys
            He told us they expected the baby any day but they never spoke of the baby in front of the children. I could have crawled under a rock, being a Christian I immediately knew his reasoning and promptly apologized. He said “but Thank you for the gifts”
            So sweet. I Just love these people and their wonderful morals.

            1. Amish girl - Rebecca

              It is discussed much among the women, only maybe not in front of young children. It actually seems sometimes to this single that it’s all some women can talk about – their babies before , after, and all the details. I appreciate when married women can also find another topic, especially when among singles, childless, or widows. Also nowadays more Moms tell their children when a new little one is on the horizon. I think the plainer the group the more taboo it is to talk about in public. But for around here it’s a fact of life and treated that way.

    6. I don’t think it is so strange that the Amish do not talk about pregnancy openly. My mother has told me that was the fact when she was a child in the 40s. Women wore a strange ‘coat’ to hide the round stomage, with the result of course that all adults knew that a woman in such a coat was pregnant but as long as you could not see the curve of the stomage one could not officially see that she was pregnant and it was not openly talked about. My mother found it laughable when her mother came with such a coat when she got pregnant in the 60s. Then it was OK to show your belly although pregnancy clothes were not as closefitting as today and you were not expected to flaunt your belly for everyone to see but wear a loose blouse and skirt or a loose dress.

      I can sometimes think that we talk too much about pregnancy today, why can’t we allow women to be private about it if they like? I have been tired lately and it was suggested by several people that I might be pregnant. What if I was and I wouldn’t like to talk about it until it was evident? What if I felt forced to admit I was and then had to tell people that I had miscarried later? No, I don’t ask people if they are pregnant even when I can see that is the fact, everyone do not want to talk too much about it and I respect that.

    7. Michigan Mary

      Another Example of Over-generalization

      This strikes me as yet another example of over-generalization about the whole of the Amish and their culture. Among the Old Order of Mt. Hope, at least among my friends, there is very little of the avoidance of the subject. I have been invited to 2 showers this past year and I routinely get updates on how pregnant relatives of my 3 gal-pals are doing. The conversations are not stilted towards modesty or secrecy. Granted, you don’t hear the men talking about it, but then English guys usually don’t carry on either. I am sure that it is less talked about by the Schwartzy’s – but as Plain Lady said, the women, they know and they hit the grapevine quickly….

      1. Disagreeing with a smile

        Mary, true, but with Mount Hope Old Order Amish you are talking about a fairly progressive circle in Holmes County.

        The other factor which you hit on and I agree with is that females are probably more likely to be comfortable discussing it. I have an example of this right now, I have a female English friend that learned about a pregnancy of a mutual Amish friend. On balance she knows the family less well than I do. Her husband has never mentioned anything on this or other pregnancies me, and we talk pretty serious subjects.

        It also sounds like you have a pretty close connection with your gal pals 🙂 And just theorizing, but you also may be a safe outlet to discuss less-talked about things with since you are from outside the culture and the state even.

        I don’t think, across-the-board, Amish discussion of pregnancy is near to what English do (though like Elin and Osiah hit on, perhaps as a society we have become too public with some things we discuss and share). I also don’t think it’s something discussed too much with children, ie not a lot of “Where do babies come from” books on Amish shelves.

        But I think you may also be seeing, like Rich says, things changing. As another example, I noticed a number of material changes just on this past trip, with a 5-year and even 1-year gap in time between visits to some of the places I went to. You’ve also got at least one or two Amish produced magazines aimed at women and covering women’s issues. So like with a lot of things Amish this may be in flux, especially in progressive communities.

        I think the record shows that I try to be pretty careful about over-generalizing on this blog. Maybe I’m wrong here, but I still don’t think it’s too outlandish to make this particular comparison.

        1. Michigan Mary

          Mea Culpa

          Erik, Mea Culpa on this one… I should have been clearer that the over-generalization comment is about English society in general and not at all about your blog. You are actually a stand-out in a crowd when it comes to fighting over-generalizations about the whole of the Amish society. And, I do agree with you that the OO of Mt. Hope are fairly progressive on the “Amish Escalator” – but they are still “Amish” and therefore often included in broad sweeping statements about the Amish, including pregnancy. An interesting point to all of this is that while Amish (in Holmes County anyway) may not talk alot about pregnancy, as soon as the lil’ bundle of joy makes it to daylight, they do publish the info (baby’s name, parent’s names and birtday) in their Register (the bi-weekly church bulletin). Again, I apologize for not being clear about my iritation with over-generalizations…. I’ll endeavor to do better in the future.

          1. Mary, no worries at all, and I should have mentioned that I was really interested to hear your comments on this. I am doubly at a disadvantage on this topic–a guy and English! I do admire the close connection you must have with the ladies in HC. There are some things I doubt I’ll be privy too and one of them is a baby shower 🙂 Always enjoy your great Holmes reports and photos as well.

            I’ve enjoyed the responses on this thread and am now inspired to ask (discreetly of course! 🙂 ) when I’m in Lancaster later in the month.

            1. Michigan Mary

              Eric, I didn’t think there would “be issue” between us on this – I just have to remember to think “globally” 🙂 (my political satire for the day)… I’ll be sure to ask my gals, discreetly as you mention, about the topic – especially about how they tackle the birds and the bees… Take care m’friend and I’ll sign on again later.

    8. Pregnancy

      I am a terrible tease, and in my ignorance I’ve teased young marrieds about the prospect of babies. “When can I expect my namesake?” That kind of thing. Usually we find out about a couple is expecting very late in the pregnancy. It isn’t announced; I only learn by badgering the parents of the couple.

      A while back I asked our friend Viola why it’s kept on the down-low. Her answer was very simple: “You never know if something might go wrong.” Births are celebrated and deaths are mourned, and you can’t celebrate a life if it hasn’t yet arrived.

      I can also tell you that the child who dies before birth is mourned. After a funeral for an elderly gentleman, the siblings of a brother who died in childbirth took time to visit his grave site. They have no memory of him, yet they mourn him as one of their own.

      1. Keith I’ve been too passive I think, I will use badgering from now on, thanks for the tip 🙂

        Thanks for sharing about the visitation. It’s good to hear things like this.

      2. Jan

        Hoo, I’m super late to this conversation! It’s a fascinating article to me because I didn’t know pregnancy was a taboo topic among many Amish.

        My childhood Amish friend and her husband have not been able to have children. We’re 33 now, they married when we were 21. It is a VERY painful subject for them. She absolutely adores children, and of course in Amish society, a good-sized brood is considered a blessing and an expectation. I have sometimes wondered how much of the old thinking remains among the Amish today, that pregnancy is something God chooses to bestow on couples based on moral reasons (like if you are fertile, it’s a sign you have pleased God, and vice versa). I deeply hope this is not the prevailing belief, especially in my friend’s community, because I can’t imagine how hurtful that would be, to feel like you are a failure or somehow “bad” because you or your husband are not fertile.

        If such thinking DOES exist among the Amish (as it did for centuries in English society), I can see why it might be a taboo subject.

        But I also know many English mothers who don’t announce a pregnancy until after the first trimester, since that’s when a pregnancy is most at risk. Who would want to announce it, and then have a miscarriage and have everyone know your personal experience like that? I certainly wouldn’t. So that’s understandable.

        But what about later in the term? I mean, it’s kind of a proverbial elephant in the room when a woman’s belly is sticking out like that. I’d find it hard to ignore, especially if it’s supposed to be an impending joy… At that stage, I guess I don’t see why people would try to make a secret of it. And as for the point of it reminding them of what caused the pregnancy, I just say, my goodness, it’s part of life. It’s one thing not to have sex ed in schools (though I personally disagree with that, but that’s another matter), but to act like babies just magically appear even in discussions among adults, seems over-the-top. Just my two cents.

        1. Jesus Says Say "Shalom" when visiting someone.

          Likewise, the most common historical cause of not being able to conceive was nutritional, simply. This was borne out by the fact that starting to take a tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar, like Bragg’s brand, twice a day in a glass of distilled water, with a spoonful of honey or molasses , often resulted in the long-waited-for blessed event, a baby on the way, naturally, God’s Way, as the acv, honey, molasses, all have nutrients needed, that usually are lacking, when pregnancy hoped for is not achieved. Thus providing the simply needed nutrition for week after week, allows the body (husband and wife, BOTH should take the healthy acv… etc)
          to “procreate” the way God made us. One late exception though – if a woman gets a flu shot or dpt or mmr or any other vaccine, any time in her life, even before turning twenty, she might never be able to produce a child or carry one to term.

    9. Ann

      I read alot of Amish books but this is the first I heard about this. Good to know tho so I dont say anything stupid at the wrong time

    10. When's that Baby Due?

      I grew up in a conservative Baptist community. We didn’t know when our mother was pregnant until she went to the hospital to have the baby! Like most farm children, we had a good idea of how babies came to be, and I suspect some of the reticence was that sex was involved, but some of it was that in a community where people felt sorry for a family that had fewer than four children, it was just so commonplace it didn’t bear discussion. Most women knew what to expect, having seen their own mothers, aunts and older sisters through pregnancies, and they knew exactly how they would raise their children. That, of course, was the way they had always been raised, along the lines of “figure out why the baby is crying, and do something about it.” There was less to discuss.

      I believe it was in one of Donald Kraybill’s books that the anecdote was told about a bishop having to order parents to see that the children had adequate sex education, because too many girls were getting pregnant during their rumspringa years. The young people were getting carried way by hormonal excitement, and no one had told them just what actions lead to pregnancy.

      1. Jan

        That’s exactly why I believe some type of fact-based sex ed is important. I think people should at least know the scientific and logistical points. It’s not like understanding how it works will suddenly make you immoral or dirty. It can help you avoid a lot of unnecessary trouble. Again, just my two cents.

        1. L.L.

          Agree to basic sex ed

          I agree 1000%to basic sex ed, not just among the Plain ppl, but also in all public schools too. Cause obviously, we all know if kids don’t know how pregnancy happens and they end up having unprotected sex due to hormones, then of course many will end up pregnant. Just like in many public schools in many different states, especially states where they teach abstinence only programs, there are many many teenage pregnancies. Also it is very important IMO, in events of SA, so if it happens, kids can know what is happening to them and they are not ashamed to confide in a trusted adult. Unfortunately, in my opinion, because of all of the lack of sex education in many schools and communities, and many communities/schools are teaching abstinence only that that just ends up in unwanted pregnancies and causes cases of SA to run rampant in some places.
          I remember when one of my conservative mennonite friend (Nationwide) told me that many women in her conference don’t even tell their daughters about menstruation, which I found very concerning because I can imagine any girl who knows nothing about it, and suddenly finds blood in her underwear is gonna freak out and think she is dying.

    11. Christina

      Interesting topic Erik. It’s rather paradoxical when you really think about it. Acknowledging a pregnancy and how the pregnancy came to be is Biblical. God is pretty clear about His creation and how He made men and women to come together to procreate. What seems to be the difference to me is that perhaps most Amish people are private about what goes on in the marriage bed than most English people.

      I can also understand not telling people right away because there is a greater chance of miscarriage in the early months.

    12. tlc slp

      similar to Orthodox Judaism

      I’ve worked within the Orthodox Jewish community, and this is also a taboo subject. I’m sure close friends, mainly women, discuss it, but for an outsider like me it was never acknowledged. I think it’s rooted in modesty as well as a bit of superstition that one doesn’t talk about the baby until there’s actually a visible, delivered baby. Baby showers happen after the birth.

      I was a visiting speech therapist working with a woman’s first child, and she appeared to be “pg”. I never said anything, of course. Finally, one day she called to cancel the appointment “because I had a baby last night.”

    13. andreas buechel

      to sanctify the space of mother and child with in

      it is happening to me, that i sometimes feel wanting to lower my look when crossing ways with an obviously pregnant women on the street in switzerland … like having a feeling not wanting to interfere with the very delicate communication of mother and child with in… like not really knowing am i pure enough to intrude in the aura of those two symbioticly united beings by looking too intensly … and perhaps subcounciously influence this wonder and blessing for the community, what each mother and child unity is.

      that is how i can understand, why a community would not want to direct attention onto the state of a mother having a child with in …

      or i try to think of it like … the descending spirit, the newly arriving soul learning to know its future environment shall not be disoriented by a special attention. if the baby within is able to witness without being center of focus, it might find it easier to learn better about its future community

      very high flying topic i find that … i am just so much in awe about the wonder of a soul being nourished and given a fleshly bonely “cloth”

      1. Michigan Mary

        WOW – Andreas – that was simply a beautiful way to put it…. thanks!

    14. andreas buechel

      thank you mary, for giving me this thumbs up

      i somehow feel like i could share here two texts i wrote some years ago and what seem both fitting here …

      the first is a blog post i wrote at


      what proposes actually exact the opposite to the trying-not-to-give-special-attention approach …. but the idea is basically that there could be a special house being set up, where woman with child can be with each other and truly celebrate this special phase of their life … and as it is with group prayer and meditation … if there are more individuals sharing the same frequence of thought, emotion and in this case physical state … the blessings of some woman with child gathering together and forming a kind of convent …. not to say a monastery … but pointing in this direction, that as more importance the society gives to the earliest experiences of its future acting members … the higher the standard for the women with child … the better the condition will be for the new member of the community to evolve into its full potential

      the second text is a more general one and a bit sensual … but it is somehow a bit like my credo, what i truly believe and i hope it is okay i add it here…. perhaps it is this awe for the life in a flesh body with all the sensual delights nature offers …

      ( written in 2006 )

      we know it all

      we know of the moment without time

      we know of the space without place

      we know of the gift to be born in a body

      we know of being lover and beloved, woman and man, mother and father, sister and brother, child and adult, all in one

      we know we are whole

      we know of the power air, fire, earth and water bring to our bare body

      we know of the pleasure playing around with all the fellow living beings as playmates, dancingmoving, droningwhisperingsinging like god esse s worshipping the one in all

      we know of the joy looking into each others eyes, hugging warmly, stroking skin softly, sharing holy nectar in a kiss, as the celebration of the love who flows from all to all

      we know we are what we want to be

      i in you, you in me, she in him, he in her, all in one, one in all


    15. Terry Berger

      Just my two cents

      I think some of it is generational as well as not wanting to draw too much attention to oneself. In my own family, my maternal grandmother had seven children in nine years. She would never allow us to say the word ‘legs’ in her presence because it was a sexual term and it meant we were talking ‘dirty.’ Instead she called them her limbs. In her PA German accent she would say to my mom, “Ach Chennie (Jennie) my limbs ache me so.”


    16. OldKat

      As a child, or at least as a teenager, I found it awkward to discuss pregnancy because it ultimately led back to how that pregnancy began. At least that was the case in my mind anyway. So I pretty much just ignored the issue, even if the poor woman before me was about to deliver on the spot. I just refused to acknowledge that pregnancies even existed.

      As a young adult and recently married I had just gotten use to the idea that it was okay to discuss pregnancies with other people, even the person who was pregnant, when I was asked to “entertain” a young lady who was visiting our office while the person she was with was in a meeting with our boss. I showed her around the facility and when we got to a slow point in our conversation I made the ultimate faux pas; “So, when is the baby due?” only to hear “I am NOT pregnant; just really, really fat”. OOOPS! Talking about a conversation killer … that pretty much did it.

      I immediately went back to my earlier stance of ignoring pregnancies. My wife was probably 6 or 7 months along with our oldest (who BTW, was 28 years old yesterday) before I ever even acknowledged to my family that she was pregnant. I pretty much have not changed my approach on this matter either. I seldom engage in discussions about pregnancies and even then ONLY after virtually ever one else in the conversation has had their say. I am NOT going to make the “fat” mistake again! However, I will now have new tool to deal with this subject. In the future when I see someone that might be pregnant I am just going to act like they are Amish and I don’t have to say a word!

    17. Alexis

      I've talked about it

      I have Old Order Amish friends in Ronks, Pa and we have discussed pregnancy with no secrecy. I first met Katie, late 50s, in October. We had a wonderful open discussion in her home which included talks of pregnancy. I went back in July and met her daughter. We all spoke very openly. I am wondering if it is just because you are male.

    18. sarah

      i was the one who originally stated the question. it has been an interesting couple of months here. i brought my friend to see her midwife about a month ago. while trying to find someone to watch her other 2 children, her husband casually said it was so they could go fishing… haha! anyway, since then, my friend had the most beautiful baby girl. mama and child were healthy and headed home 2 hours after the birth! oy! i feel blessed that they trusted me enough to be a part of their child’s birth.

      1. Thanks for updating us Sarah. I’ve actually had a couple of more direct conversations since this post went up. I do think it is an easier topic among women though, as Alexis suggests.

    19. Pat

      Out of wedlock children

      My great-great-great grandmother was Amish and bore my great-great grandfather out of wedlock in 1865 in southern Pennsylvania. The baby’s father was not Amish; family lore says he traveled selling patent medicines. I don’t know if that’s how he met the mother. What would have been the reaction of the Amish community to this birth? Would the mother have been shunned? If so, would she have been welcomed back if she repented? My questions are not entirely relevant to this post, but I can’t seem to find any other information on the internet about what may have been this grandmother’s fate.

    20. Carolyn B

      I have to share a funny on myself

      I thought I’d share this laugh on myself.

      When I was in elementary grades, one Christmas season I wrote my very uptight, straight-laced paternal grandmother a thank you letter & included other news such as how my heifer was progressing. Having recently read the Bible story that uses the phrase “great with child” for Mary, I co-opted that phrase to explain that my heifer was “great with calf”.

      My parents laughed about and told this story on Grandma and me for years. 😀

    21. Jessica G.

      Amish may be “mum” about pregnancy, but it doesn’t seem to be the same way for Mennonites! 😀 A few weeks ago at the Nationwide church I’m attending, one lady showed up in a different style of dress. I was chatting with a younger single girl after the service and she commented, “last year at this time everyone was having babies… this year it’s only Joanna!” And a few days ago visiting with Joanna’s family, we were entertained by her husband reading the most outrageous names out of the baby name book all afternoon!

    22. Yoder

      In the Pennsylvania Dutch ES NEI TESHTAMENT, the Bible story of Mary and baby Jesus has an interesting translation. The last part of Luke 2:5 in English says, “being great with child.” The Pennsylvania Deitsh says, “un see voah uf em family vayk.” (meaning she was on the family way, exactly how the Amish say it!)

      It is my understanding that the word “pregnant” was not allowed on TV in the 1950s, and that they declined to show pregnant women (and toilets) on camera.

      1. Jan

        "Pregnant women . . . and toilets."

        They refused to show pregnant women and toilets on tv. How powerful is that. It just shows that pregnancy had (and apparently still does for some people) a taint of shamefulness and dirtiness. It boggles my mind. Pregnancy is the anticipation (indeed, from the very etymology of the WORD pregnant, meaning to anticipate) of a new life. But because of this idea that women are tainted by their very existence, and that sexuality is somehow dirty (even within a loving marriage, and even though it’s what leads to life, and even though it’s what their religion told them to do)… I just don’t get it. It makes me very glad that most of us are moving past that.

        I mean no offense, I just feel very strongly this way and it offends ME, as a woman and even just as a human being, to know that people are treated this way, in the past and especially sometimes today.

    23. Valerie

      Interesting Yoder!

      Come to think of it I think you’re right-
      Women used to wear big ol’ smocky maternity tops and what a change to see them wear tight shirts when 9 months along-

      Also, on t.v., married couples bedrooms back then were 2 single beds feet apart from each other. Boy, has that changed!

    24. Ed

      This is one area where I can appreciate both the Amish and the”English” traditions.

      I’m thankful to the Amish…for reminding us that a new baby is special, even sacred, and that it is the parents, and not strangers, who need to talk about it.

      And I’m thankful for the English ways…that we can talk freely about pregnancy and other conditions, as a result of which we have disseminated information to the world about fetal health and nutrition.

    25. Birds, Bees and Rural understanding

      This is related to a coment posted on why Amish don’t comment on Pregnancy- has to do with a confusion I have. I always thought rural people were “advanced” on the birds and bees subject because they have observed the birth of a foal or a calf (or both). I know that some Amish enjoy “earthy humor” – so why is it that the birds and bees would be a forbidden subject. But, really, I never get over the confusion that rural people are sex ed “backward” compared to city folk. I can’t imagine that they are. Can someone clear me up on that?

    26. Sandra

      Why Dont Amish Discuss Pregnancy

      As a midwife to english and Plain families – this is a close topic. Believe me,there are a number of ways to share with another that somethings in the oven.

      Respect. Privacy afforded an intimate part of married life. Sacred space protected for mother and unborn. ~~ English culture is quite different- sometimes it seems to reveal all and protect nothing.

      Sandra Hess, CPM
      Heartland Midwifery
      Fresno, Ohio

      1. Sandra I appreciate you chiming in here. Your last sentence cuts right to the chase. If I had to choose a verb to sum up the last half-decade it would be “share” (or is that “over-share”) 🙂 I imagine you see a lot of Amish patients given your location.

    27. Dody

      As a mother of 6

      I always found it strange when people wanted to talk about my body and my baby. Strangers wanting to touch my belly or making comments on what I name my child. We are very private people, my husband and I. We are happy with our child, why does everyone else have to share in this? Are we not the one’s that must care for him? That said, my one friend was so delighted to see my last child, I had to let her “in on the fun”. The first time she saw him she cried, like she were his own mother. That moved me. I actually let her hold him, even though I do not let people in my house normally for months after the baby is born. Also, after six children, it isn’t so much of a mystery…it’s more of a calling.

    28. Sandra

      RE: "I do not let"

      RE: “I do not let ”

      To some it appears “an extreme” -that a parent would not allow others to hold their baby or not invite others in to their home postbirth for a period of weeks/months. However,it is more common than most people know .
      Our society is more an encourager of “let”, than “not let”…..and that influence leaves many parents struggling to self-determine their family ways and family nest. It was not always so. Parents would have been judged deficient in the past if they failed in claiming their home a sanctuary for their family.
      Increasingly….one can hear clamoring of “control freak” over the heads of parents if every influence and desire of the street is not allowed in to the family home. This is “The Brave New World” (Huxley) showing up now.

      Sandra Hess, CPM
      Heartland Midwifery
      Fresno, Ohio

      1. Dody

        Sandra, it is reassuring to see that I have a traditional view on things. I have been called a control freak a lot, among other things. I wish I lived in a community that shared my values. My children dress “old fashioned”, we don’t own a tv, we have a wood stove to cook on, we don’t allow the popular culture into our home (which includes many toys), and my children are home schooled. As you can see we are way outside of the main stream.

        As for not letting people in when we have a new baby, it is really for the health and safety of the baby. It also helps me to adjust to the little one and bond with him. Plus breast feeding doesn’t afford much privacy when they are tiny. I don’t understand how anyone can run around after they have a 4 week old baby if they are breast feeding. The demand is so much!

    29. Rene

      I can’t find an answer to this question anywhere else: what happens if a girl comes back from Rumspringa pregnant?

      1. Pregnant

        Hi — I can provide an answer from what we have seen. An Amish friend of ours has a brother who is a minister in his church district. His daughter had a wild rumspringa and found herself in a family way, but without a husband. Her family was disappointed, as any family would be, but they welcomed her back into their home and church. Two years ago she went through the process leading up to baptism, and I was fortunate to be invited to the service at which she was baptized.

        The Amish are not perfect and they are well aware of their flaws. The example of grace in Christ’s forgiveness provides a model for their forgiveness as well. Prodigal sons (and daughters) are most times welcomed back into the family of Christ when they are ready to be there.

    30. Sandra

      Keith, how right on: “The Amish are not perfect and they are well aware of their flaws. The example of grace in Christ’s forgiveness provides a model for their forgiveness as well”.

      There is an expectation that the male who ‘took her’ will marry her (my wording & terms…not necessarily Amish). The timing of the wedding may vary — in the two cases I personally have known one couple married some weeks after their baby’s birth and the other couple married months after. Likely, the timing just fit the needs of their families.

      Sandra Hess, CPM
      Heartland Midwifery
      Fresno, Ohio

    31. Rene

      Thanks for answering me, guys!

    32. Jeanne


      I don’t know about all Amish but where I live I am surrounded by them (Lebanon, PA). My neighbor who is Amish tells me when she is pregnant and when she is due, also how her labor went. My other neighbor also tells me when she is pregnant (she lost two). I think it depends on how open they are or closed. Some are very closed (strong religious belief’s) and follow the rules and bible to the letter, others are not so strong and use some electric, cell phones etc. They use the same kitchen equipment as we do including Kitchen Aid’s mixers and juicers, toilets and showers and hot water in the home. The only difference is they have them reworked to be run off air power and that comes from either diesel generators or propane generators.

    33. Rene

      Jeanne, I read that in an article! That especially the families that have made a business making the rustic “must haves” that some of us English desire for our home decor have gotten cell phones that they charge on diesel generators so they can take orders (instead of relying on the postal service). I wonder if any have set up solar panels. 🙂

    34. Brittany

      I just have to say that my boyfriend grew up Amish. He was always told as a kid that airplanes brought new babies. He said that the kids would all be sent outside and they would look for the airplanes. His family now is pretty open about it among adults, even the men. I imagine though that it is just their family because they are Swartzentruber (spelling?) Amish.

    35. Why Amish don't talk about Pregnancy

      It was nice reading all of these comments. Today, I encountered a young Amish lady whom married in the Fall. As I hugged her, since I hadn’t seen her since she married, I could tell she was pregnant. I got all excited for her and began asking the routine questions. When are you due, etc. She clammed up and was not answering me. I was very puzzled, asking, “Don’t you know how far along you are?”She quietly, with her head down, said, “We don’t talk about it.” I felt so embarrassed. I did not know this about the Amish. Glad I found this read to better understand some of the reasons.
      I am Christian and was having trouble understanding why God’s miracle was not embraced and joyful for the Amish. I understand more having read all of the comments. I sure hope she will not hold it against me. I can’t wait to see her again and maybe hold her dear child.

    36. Susan

      Another thought about why...

      I am really enjoying this discussion. I think that the idea that it’s about privacy and modesty, is probably a right-minded one. But I have been thinking about how many times in “modern” Englisher life I tire of hearing pregnant women talking about their pregnancies, as if no woman has even been pregnant before. One tires of hearing about it. It’s as if their pregnancy is some sort of achievement or accomplishment – really, it isn’t. It’s just part of God’s plan and the human condition, and common to most women. I wonder if – when you live in the Amish culture where six children is never unusual, and neither in fact is nine – you just see nothing all that spectacular about being pregnant and no reason to call everyone’s attention to it. It’s a question of humility. We in the Englisher world have a sort of “me, me, me it’s all about me” way of thinking. When you live in a culture where you are other-focussed, to call attention to something as common and natural and God-given as a pregnancy, might seem a bit silly and unnecessary. It often occurs to me that, unless one was raised Amish, their total commitment to the ideas of humility and submission to community, is something that can never be completely understood.

    37. Sylvia Nelson-Campbell


      My mother (not amish, but rural Appalachia Va.) was the oldest of 14 kids and she says they didn’t know when mom was pregnant until she sent for the doctor. The doctor upon arriving with his black bag, would send them all outside and later announce the new sibling’s arrival. They always just assumed he brought the baby in the bag, lol. I always wondered how they managed the original feat, since they all slept in one big room. Only a three room house after all. Just watch Coal Miner’s Daughter and you see her upbringing.

      1. L.L.

        Husband is from M.E. and arab

        Yes, I also wonder how they do the deed when they all sleep in one room. I know that is very common here, in the middle east, especially among poor families where there may only be one bedroom in the house. I know my husband, who only has one sister, she slept in her parents room until she was maybe about 10 or so.The other children slept in the little sitting room area right outside their bedroom. They also do not teach sex ed here in schools for the most part, of course depending on country and if it’s a private or public school. Some families are more open about talking about it with their children, about where babies come from but many would not actually I would not discuss it with their unmarried children until they were about to be married. Of course, now, with the internet, most unmarried teens know about it and how a pregnancy happens. This is a very, very abstinent only culture And of course there are, every now and then, a few out of wedlock pregnancies, but as culturally, they can’t even be alone with the opposite gender, (so definitely no dating!) But that is also a religious thing because most of the middle east, as everyone knows, is mostly muslim with sizeable christian communities in most countries). One person I knew from north africa did have sex education in their public school, and then many countries,especially more in the Gulf area and Middle East they would not have it (but teach biology)

        I have a few Conservative mennonite friends, all along the “spectrum” (for lack of not being able to think of a better word to describe it) and many of them would now do gender reveal parties And my more conservative ones (nationwide, for example) would never do a gender reveal.

    38. Janene

      Thanks for the Insights!

      Well I’m incredibly late to the game, but here goes:

      Our small family business is a high-risk pregnancy care center in Lancaster, PA. As you can imagine we see a lot of people from the Plain community. We are opening up a small satellite office (complete with buggy hitching station) south of town to make it easier for people who live out that way to make it to an appointment.

      My dilemma, and how I found this thread, is how to advertise services in the local paper without using an taboo words or images. I have some cute “baby face” ultrasound pictures, but I was concerned that would cause an Amish parent to have to explain something they didn’t wish to. Same with images of pregnant women.

      I finally decided to use pictures of babies (despite the fact that many will confuse us with a pediatrician because of it) and moms with babies.

      I am still trying to figure out what terminology to use; I’m guessing “OB/GYN” isn’t going to cut it.

      If anyone has a suggestion I’d love to hear from you! Just trying to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for this community.

      This is a great blog and I really appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this!

    39. Yoder in Ohio

      Hi Janene,

      I live in the large Holmes/ Wayne County Community. The “Mt. Eaton Care Center” is where a lot of “plain” women around here go for check-ups and the actual birth. Most folks around here call it a combination of things — “the birthing Center,” “the care center,” “the Mt. Eaton birth center,” and so on. I am trying to remember if I have ever seen an advertisement for it and I can’t recall.

      I can see how some pictures might make people think it’s a pediatrician. Add a cradle! Smile! That is a pretty good hint it’s for a newborn.

      The younger generation around here is much more liable to discuss things openly and we hear more and more talk about ultrasounds etc. but it may be different in your neighborhood. I guess what I’m trying to say is the taboo might not be as strong as it was even 10 years ago.

      Wishing you God’s blessings in your work! What a great idea!