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Prenatal, Labor and Delivery, and Post Partum

The information contained in this web page is for information purposes only. If you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant please seek medical attention. The information attained herein is in no way intended to replace medical advice.
Information for this website was gathered through interviews of Chinese women to gain an understanding of the Chinese cultural practices. The information given from these women may not apply to all Chinese women.

Pregnant Woman

Prenatal Care

Many Chinese women believe that they must stay away from negative emotions and thoughts, they should not gossip, or laugh loudly this is believed to have a negative effect on the baby's development.

It is typical to gain about twenty two pounds during pregnancy. 

They believe it is very important to keep the pregnant mother's body hot because pregnancy is considered a "hot" condition.  It is believed that pregnant women must not eat tropical fruits or raw vegetable because these foods make them cold. Eggs and pig liver are also consumed to provide protein to make the child's eye "shiny" (good vision, beautiful eye shape).  It is believed that yin and yang are weakened, so warm food should be consumed in order to restore the balance.  Yin and yang is an ancient Chinese concept of balance which contributes to harmony and health.  Yin represents dark, passive, downward, cold, contracting, feminine and weak; while yang is bright, active, upward, hot, expanding, positive, masculine and strong.

Cravings are thought to determine whether a boy or girl will be born. Girls crave spicy food, meat and sweets. Boys crave sour food and non-tropical fruits.

Red is very symbolic while pregnant. The color red is thought to protect against evil spirits and give good luck to both mother and child. Items such as red underwear, scarves, and socks are worn by the pregnant women. 

Sex is discouraged during early pregnancy because it is believed to cause deformation to the baby's face.

Labor and Delivery

Where the woman lives, countryside or big city, determines who delivers the baby. In the countryside many times there may not be a doctor in the village, so a midwife or any women with experience can assist with the delivery. In the city it is typical that doctors and nurses will assist in delivery.

Due to space restrictions in the city hospitals the fathers are not present during delivery; however, in the countryside the fathers assist in delivery.

To ease pain, epidurals are typically not used, so teas, breathing techniques and position changes ease the pain naturally. Chinese women try not to fear childbirth because it is thought to be a women's purpose passed down by the ancients.

Traditionally, the family keeps the baby’s placenta. It is thought that eating the placenta allows the woman to regain her lost organ (the placenta). It is cooked with other meats and vegetables. Today, the placenta is buried under the support beams of their house as it is considered disrespectful to throw it away and it is important the placenta is placed in an area where no one will step on it. 


Post Partum  

After childbirth both mother and baby  must not go outside for one month because wind may enter the body causing illness such as arthritis, rheumatism, headache and/or poor appetite. The mother's job is to stay in her room and rest for one month. Visitors are limited to prevent spread of infection. House work and care of the baby, except breast feeding, are the job of women family members.  

The baby is not named before birth. Then at birth, false names are given to the baby; they are refer to as "ugly" or called an animal name to trick the spirits into thinking the baby is not worth kidnapping.  The parents refer to traditional style fortune-telling, su-wann-min (算 命) for naming their baby. The baby will carry the father's last name.

To announce the baby's birth the new father will send money and wine to his in laws.  To his friends, he will send red eggs, an even number symbolizing a baby girl or an odd number symbolizing a baby boy. 

Many Chinese believe that cold food should be avoided such as most fruits and vegetables. If the pregnant woman eats cold food, diarrhea in baby and mother may occur, as well as body swelling, stomach discomfort, cough, and generalized body discomfort. In some areas it is also thought that cold food consumption will delay expelling uterine mucus, blood and tissue (lochia).  

During the first month a female family member will assist in caring for the baby because the mother is considered to be in her healing month. 

The pregnant mother’s friends give the present, 
chang-min-suo (長命鎖) or shao-muu-yuu (小木魚) to make a wish for baby’s long life. 

Presents are usually metal products or money; clothes or toys are typically not given.


Third Day after birth-

On the morning of the third day a celebration is held and the baby gets his/her first bath. Only female family and friends are invited. 

30 days after birth-

After one month  or Zuo yuezi  also known as "sitting the month" or "doing the month" the mother is allowed to bathe and a celebration is held with family and friends.

100 days-

At 100 days another celebration is held . Friends and family bring fish and chicken. After the chicken is cooked, the chicken tongue is then cooked and rubbed on the lips of the baby to promote good speech development.

chinese bracelet
Traditional good luck bracelet for the baby given by a friend or family member. The red rope wards off evils spirits and is associated with happiness and good fortune. The jade is symbolic of a long life, the coin of wealth, the baby rat symbolizes the Chinese zodiac (2008 is the year of the rat) and the bell wards off evil spirits.

1 year-

Another celebration is held to celebrate the birthday of the child. Food is offered to Gods and Goddesses.

Jade Bracelets
Jade bracelets worn by Chinese women

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Posted November 5, 2008