How Not to Offend the Chinese: A Quick Guide to Pregnancy Traditions

China is among the oldest, continuously inhabited countries in the world. For thousands of years, the Chinese have been at the forefront of innovation and technology. There are innumerable techniques and gadgets that the world owes to China. The country is also known for its strong beliefs and traditions. These traditions, norms and folkways are still deeply embedded in the populace, and deviating from them can be offensive and even a taboo in the country. If you are a foreigner planning on having a baby in China, here are certain China pregnancy customs that you need to know about.

What you Expose Yourself To

Once you find out that you are pregnant, you will be told to focus on the quality of your thoughts, as it is believed that whatever the mother thinks will also be carried on to the child. This also holds true for the kind of stories you read and even movies you watch. Violence, hatred, horror, depravity and sadness are genres that should be avoided. It is believed that even looking at flashy colors that hurt the eyes is not good for the mother and child. Sex immediately after or during pregnancy is strictly forbidden.

The Food

It is widely believed in China that what a mother eats when she is pregnant has a definite and direct effect on the baby. Fruits like bananas and papaya are believed to be dangerous, causing uneasiness and even miscarriage. There are direct effects on the baby in these cases. If the food is to smashed, but isn’t smashed well, or vegetables are not cut evenly, it can cause the baby to have a careless, wandering disposition. It is also believed that the kind of food pregnant ladies eat influences the skin color of the baby.

In and Around the House

For as long as a pregnant woman is in the house, no construction or repair work that involves noisy sawing and hammering is allowed as this may give the child spotty, pockmarked skin. In the house, moving furniture around and remodeling are not allowed. You also cannot move your bed. It is encouraged to slip a few knives or scissors under the bed as it is believed to drive away evil spirits lurking around at night. Pregnant women need to stay away from funerals, as death is not a good thing for a mother to see.

Being aware of these customs could go a long way into understanding what may rub a traditional person the wrong way and can help you avoid awkward situations.


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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.

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