Chinese Cultural Birthing Practices
Composed by second year Hawai'i Community College-West Hawaii ADN nursing students based on interviews with a few older women that gave birth in China and the United States. The following information describes their personal cultural beliefs and their experiences and may not apply to all Chinese women. This information is meant to be informational and should not be used as medical advice. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, please see your health care provider for appropriate care.




Traditional Chinese Beliefs During Pregnancy:
-Chinese believe in "a time" to conceive. They look at a Lunar calendar to see what are the"good" days to have a child, get married, buy a house, etc. The Chinese conceiving calendar was invented for use by royalty to ensure abundance of male heirs. The calendar is used to determine the best time to conceive a boy or girl. The Chinese prefer boys. In China, due to its large population, only one child per couple is allowed. The calendar is based on the mother's age at time of conception and the month of the baby's conception.
-Numbers are also very important to traditional Chinese beliefs as is "Feng Shui". "Feng Shui" tells the Chinese where certain things should be done, such as where in the bedroom the bed should be placed, the importance of not having a ceiling fan over the bed because the blades of the fan disrupt the energy of the abdominal area for both partners, and not putting crib next to a window as it is believed that the cold air is bad for baby. The number four is considered bad because it means death; numbers six or eight are good because they represent wealth.


Foods That Are Good and Bad During Pregnancy:
picture of traditional shrimp plate
-Crab is bad to eat because it can cause a high risk birth.
-Lamb, if eaten, is believed to cause the infant to have asthma or other respiratory issues.
-Eggs are good to eat prior to pregnancy becaus
e the Chinese believe it helps with
fertility.
-Eating a well balanced meal of meat and vegetables will produce a healthy baby. If you do not eat a well balanced diet your baby will be a picky eater.
-Squid is avoided as it is believed to make birth "sticky", or harder.
-Eating tofu and lettuce can help make a male child .Finding out the sex of the baby prior to birth is considered bad luck.


 



Oth
image of shrineer Beliefs:
-Don't
raise your arms it can cause a miscarriage.
-When
in bed do not use scissors because that can cause a cleft lip.
-You never question elders and always do what they say. It is disrespectful to question elders or not do as they say.
-The Chinese believe that the daughter in law is now apart of their family and she is no longer a part of h
er original family.
-Cravings can indicate sex: sour means boy, sweet means girl.

During birth:

-Some mothers will avoid painkillers during pregnancy. Traditional accupuncture is a big choice of some chinese mothers.
-Noise is not discouraged during birthing process.
-Mother-in-law is present; some times the significant other also, but not during first pregnancy.


Post-Partum:

-The recovery period after giving birth is one month because of the demands of childbirth and the amount of blood lost during and after labor. This time period is so the postpartum mom can recover her health.  A postpartum mom is to stay in bed and do nothing but feed baby, so that she has every chance of regaining her energy after childbirth .
 
-During this time, a nanny, mother, or mother-in-law stays with the new parents and does every thing, such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, changing and washing baby.  Mother and baby do not leave the house during this time. This period lasts 30-45 days.
 
 
buhhdist shrine
For recovery the new mom eats lots of herbs, as this is believed to be the quickest way to restore much needed source of blood.  "Dang gui" (Angelica sinensis) is used because it is believed to help make more blood.  Lots of ginger is to be eaten because the heat is  believed to ciculate blood. No cold foods are eaten, only warm foods like soups, teas, and foods rich in blood and nutrients, necessary for recovery. Such foods include:
 
Beef
Lamb

Eggs
Liver
Heart
kidneys
All chinese vegetables
Beans

 

We appreciate your feedback! Please email us your comments.

Return to the Transcultural Index