following information is based on interviews with several Chinese women
of varying ages who have had children. This page reflects their beliefs
and should not be considered true of all Chinese women.
"Women will do anything
to ensure the health of the baby. They believe they shouldn't think bad
thoughts and they should
rest, and be at peace..." Prenatal care is dependent on where they
live, educational level and individual beliefs. Some
choose to see a doctor, herbalist,
acupuncturist, and/or priest for prenatal care. If
a rural area, prenatal care may not be available.Only at time of
would they hire midwives or women with previous experience delivering
babies. They may consult fortune tellers due to the belief
that a deceased family member may be reincarnated into the baby. They
also provide the parents with peace of mind by predicting the
baby'sfuture health and
Old saying, “You will have a boy if you
sour food, you willl have a girl if you crave spicy food during
pregnancy.” The Chinese believe that whatever they eat during
pregnancy will directly affect the mother and her
Pregnancy is considered a "hot" condition, in order to maintain
internal balance (yin and yang)
"cold" foods are eaten, such as mung beans, bean sprouts, bananas,
watermelon. Eating for two becomes a major factor and the husband's
family is responsible for feeding the expectant mother. During the
first trimester, women consume herbal drinks to safeguard pregnancy,
ingest "cold" foods to reduce the risk of
eat ginger to alleviate nausea. In the third trimester, different types
of herbs are consumed to rid the body of toxins in the womb and ensure
Things to avoid during pregnancy:
- Shellfish (Crab, shrimp, clams) to avoid babies
from developing rash and bacterial contamination
- Sex during the first trimester out of fear of
- Heavy lifting and strenuous activity out of fear
- Sharp objects used in their beds
(knives, scissors, etc.), as this may result in a cleft lip
- Medication for fear of harming baby
- Taping or posting things on the wall
ofthe bed,as this is believed to cause unwanted birth marks on baby's
Labor must be done in silence, screaming or making noise is shameful to
the mother. It is thought of as inappropriate and unacceptable for fear
of disturbing baby. Traditionally the fathers role is to
provide for the family, however, they do not actively participate in
labor and delivery. During delivery laboring women are cared for by
other females in the family (mother-in-law, mother, sister, etc).
believed that all the activities during the post partum period will
have long term effects on a women’s health.Women are not allowed to
bathe, wash hair (to prevent headaches), read (will “hurt” vision), go
outside, or consume "cold" foods (will hurt teeth) for one month after
delivery. Women avoid sitting up for extended periods of time
for fear that it will hurt their back. Complying with these things are
believed to help restore internal energy and balance.
believe that the post partum period is a time where women are
undergoing a "cold" stage, due to blood loss during delivery. During
this time they avoid exposing themselves to cold water, cold air, cold
wind, and eating "cold" foods. In order to restore internal energy and
replenish blood, the new mom needs to consume foods that are
"hot". Some examples of "hot" foods are: hot water, soups ,
ginger, wine, eggs, pig feet, and foods that are high in protein. If
the mother has a cesarean section delivery she should also avoid beef
and seafood because it is believed that these foods prolong the healing
process. Women also avoid the use of ice packs/compresses for an
episiotomy out of fear that it will increase the risk of
incontinence, headache, backache, and arthritits in old age.
It is believed
the family should avoid having visitors for up to a month to protect
the new mom and baby's health. One month after birth, a "Red Egg and
Ginger Party" is held to introduce the baby to family and friends.
People are forbidden to touch the baby’s head because it is believed to
carry the spirit of the baby.
When married in the Chinese culture it is
expected that you bear a child. One child is allowed per family, a male
is preferred. If a female child is concieved, abortion or adoption is
usually chosen. Expecting families visit temples and pray to Buddha to
bring a son because they believe son’s are higher status and are more
useful to family because the family name remains.
- When babies are born they are considered to be a year old
the traditional Chinese belief is to include the time spent in utero.
- No pregnancy is accepted if the couple is not married, if a
child is born out of wedlock the child's education will not be free.
- In traditional Chinese culture the couple is to live with
the extended family. Upbringing of the baby is done by the
mother of baby and
mother-in-law. Chinese believe that once a woman is married she becomes
of her husbands family.
- Some mothers eat a lot of black sesame seeds to
give the baby black hair.
- No breast feeding because they think that formula milk is
better for the baby.
- Most women wear jade to protect themsevles from evil
spirits and for health during pregnancy
- Pregnant women aren't supposed to attend funerals (bad
may be made if it is a close family member, as long as they avoid
viewing the coffin being lowered into the ground. Viewing the coffin
being lowered into the ground is believed to bring bad luck even if it
is a close family member.