Not only is it fascinating to hear about various pregnancy and birth-related customs and traditions followed by the Chinese people, but it can also help the expat to better understand and be aware of attitudes and behaviors of doctors, friends and neighbors when having a baby in China. There are many pregnancy and childbirth-related traditions that may seem odd to expats, but are perfectly normal for Chinese people. As with any discussion of traditions in China, the following are generalizations and may or may not be apply to every area of China.
China’s pregnancy customs have their own place in society. It is believed that whatever a pregnant woman does and sees influences her unborn baby. So pregnant women read good poetry, avoid gossiping and avoid losing their temper. There are many taboos related to the kind of food a pregnant woman should eat. One such taboo is that if a pregnant woman eats light-colored food, then her baby will be born with a fair skin.
According to Chinese tradition, if a pregnant woman touches glue, then the baby may bear birthmarks. Chinese consider pregnancy as a “hot” condition. So to balance the yin and yang, a pregnant woman should eat “cold” food. Another Chinese pregnancy custom suggests that a woman should not criticize anybody during pregnancy or her child will behave just like the criticized person. It is also believed that the baby may get rashes if the mother eats shellfish. Also, putting a sharp object on the bed may induce cleft lip or palate in the baby.
China’s birthing customs dictate that a woman should not cry during delivery, as it will draw evil spirits towards the baby. Just before the umbilical cord is cut, a necklace is put around the baby’s neck, as it is believed to tie the baby’s life to the necklace rather than the umbilical cord. According to another custom, the mother of a pregnant woman is only present during the first child’s delivery and not during the succeeding ones.
According to Chinese custom, squatting is the perfect labor position. If a pregnant woman is lying on her back, then it is believed that the baby won’t have required energy to come out. Also, the father is not expected to be there during childbirth, but he is supposed to offer first bath to the child.
You may find a lot of cultural differences when it comes to childbirth. The customs and traditions followed in China may seem odd, but are certainly interesting. If you are an expat living in China, then this knowledge can be enriching and helpful in understanding your own childbirth in China.
What has been your experience with Chinese culture and having babies?
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.