Moving to a new place can be a brave decision for an expecting couple, where as moving to an entirely new continent like China can be chaotic at the least. The customs followed in China before, during and after child birth can be confusing for a Westerner. Understanding the traditions and customs and being equipped with as much information as possible can help you have a healthy and happy pregnancy.
Once you know which city in China you will be residing, start your research about the hospitals in the area. If you are staying in tier-1 cities like Beijing or Shanghai, you can easily find hospitals and doctors who speak English and practice Western medicine. Most of these hospitals also offer parenting lessons and physical activity classes like maternity yoga. Medical insurance from your work can cover the hospital expenses, which are comparatively high than at home. If you are moving to a tier-2 or tier-3 city, finding such a hospital can be difficult. Majority of the hospitals in China are run by the government and the doctors practice traditional Chinese medicine. It could be difficult to find an English speaking doctor in the rural provinces. Language could be a barrier for the expecting couple to understand and communicate with the hospital staff. Remember to register the child birth with the American embassy if you are not registering for Chinese citizenship for your child.
There are many pregnancy related customs followed in China. Pregnant women in China are advised to take much rest and not do any physical work unlike Western countries where a little exercise is advised to expecting mothers. Intercourse during any time of pregnancy is forbidden according to ancient Chinese customs to prevent any damage to the unborn child. The father of the baby is not usually present in the room for the child birth. It is better to discuss presence of the child’s father in the room with the doctor beforehand. Just before giving birth, the mother is fed well in China, unlike Western countries, where going into labor is preferred on an empty stomach to avoid vomiting and fatigue. After the child birth, Chinese mothers are expected to stay in bed for 30- 45 days and do nothing but feed the baby and regain energy. There will be big celebrations after 1 month of the child’s birth. It is safe to assume that your Chinese friends may expect an invitation from you after the baby is born.
Pregnancy and child birth in an unfamiliar environment can be a challenging experience. Embracing the new culture and different medical practices can be the key to having a healthy and happy baby despite of the new and changed surrounding condition.
Founders of havingababyinchina.com, Jeremy and Jacquelyn have four children. The first three were born in three different hospitals in China and the last was born at home in the US. Jeremy and Jacquelyn created havingababyinchina.com in 2009 after they found little information for foreigners having babies in China. They love connecting with other foreigners having babies. Learn more about them on the about page.