Being pregnant and delivering a baby in China can be quite an experience. One of the most interesting or rather strange things that you may come across, especially in South China, is that people love giving “good advice” to pregnant women. As soon as your pregnancy is visible, do not be surprised when women even on the streets hurry along to have a small pregnancy chat with you.
Every culture has its own traditions about pregnancy that are strongly driven by their faith, beliefs and ancient wisdom. The Chinese are no different and have a long list of customs and do’s and don’ts that may sound strange to an expat.
Some Notable Traditions
- Once the pregnancy is confirmed, the father-to-be has to carry his pregnant wife over burning coal, to ensure that the mother undergoes labor successfully.
- It is believed that everything a pregnant woman does, sees, listens to, eats and even thinks affects the child in some manner. It is for this reason that they are encouraged to read good and pleasant literature, eat well-cooked food, engage in pleasant thoughts and keep a balanced temper. Laughing loudly and gossiping is supposed to affect the child negatively. They also keep knives under the bed of the pregnant women to keep evil spirits away.
- Chinese women have to drink a potent herbal solution or liquid to help them have a less painful labor. Women are told not to fear the process but embrace it. Delivery of the child traditionally happens in an armchair like furniture or even a futon in some cases. Prayers and gifts are offered to the Goddess of Fertility after a successful delivery.
- The Chinese believe that all celebrations for the baby should happen only after the delivery. The mother of the pregnant woman sends across ‘cui sheng’, which is basically a white piece of cloth that is to be used to wrap the infant with. The maternal grandmother is also responsible for bringing other clothes, gifts and toys for the new baby, but only after three days of the happy arrival.
- The post delivery period is one of the most challenging for women. Known as the ‘cold phase’ or ‘sit the month’ period, new mothers during this time are advised with complete bed rest. Whatever the time of the year, they are properly wrapped in head covers, warm clothes, socks and blankets to keep the body warm. According to ancient wisdom, this keeps women from falling sick with ailments like arthritis in their old age.
Although most of these quirks cannot be proven scientifically, these traditions are an important part of the Chinese culture and you are sure to experience them if you are having a baby in China.
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.