Pregnancy is a special time in a woman’s life. With the decision to have a child, usually everything changes. Being pregnant comes with its own challenges, but pregnancy in an unfamiliar environment can be a challenging experience, especially if you are far away from your own mother and family.
Of course despite the new and changed surrounding condition, for the sake of your baby, you should try to embrace the new culture and different medical practices. However, no matter how open minded, there are just some things I was told to do or not to do during my pregnancy here in rural China that I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t follow.
In China the rules for pregnancy are extremely strict. Most Chinese women have to follow a special set of rules which are enforced by their mother-in-laws. My mother-in-law tried the same as soon as we told her I was pregnant. Here are only a few of the things I can remember I was told by her during my nine months of pregnancy (of course every part of China has a little bit of variation to these rules, the following are only the ones I have been told here in rural Anhui).
- Mothers-to-be should rest a lot, lie down a lot, and better not move around too much during their pregnancy
- Should not carry heavy things or do any physical work
- Should always move slowly when they do anything
- Should focus on the quality of their thoughts (don’t watch or read stories with violence, hatred, horror or sadness)
- Should never cry during pregnancy
- Should not go outside to avoid people bumping into their stomachs
- Should cut their hair, as long hair takes away nutrients from the baby
- Should not wear make up, paint their nails or dye their hair (actually they should not express their own beauty at all)
- Should wear loose clothing and flat shoes
- Should wear radiation-proof dresses to prevent radiation from computer screens, cell phones and other electronics
- Sexual intercourse during pregnancy is strictly forbidden
- Pets like cats or dogs are forbidden
- Do not drink cold water or eat ice-cream
- Don’t eat fruits as they are also too cold (or boil them before eating… ever ate boiled apples, bananas or grapes?)
- Eat at least ten eggs a day to give baby the right amount of nutrients
- Don’t eat chocolate or else baby will have dark skin (there are foods mother-to-be should eat so the baby will have white skin later)
- In general pregnant women should eat tons of food during pregnancy which has resulted in many women being extremely over weight and having a huge baby making labor difficult
In the House
- Don’t do needle work or use scissors around the bed as this could make your baby ugly
- Do not raise your hands over your head (so no hanging up your washing) as this could negatively influence your baby
- No hammering beside a pregnant woman as this could leave an ugly scar on baby’s face
- No moving the bed while pregnant because this might result in the loss of the baby
- Don’t use the AC or a fan in your home
There have been so many more comments from total stranger about what to do or not to do during pregnancy, but these are the ones I can recall my mother-in-law telling me constantly. Obviously I haven’t really been following those rules.
I have been wearing make up, painted my nails and would never cut my hair. This might make me look very negligent to my Chinese family in law, but personally I still trust in science and so far science has not proven that hammering beside a pregnant woman will leave the baby with a scar…
I have learned to ignore most of the comments, just nod and smile and tell them that in Germany we do things different. For some very persistent people I have even used the argument “We foreigners have different bodies”, even though I really hate that comment, but it works all the time.
At the end of the day most people, and especially my mother-in-law, only mean well. And all in all the experience of being pregnant in China wasn’t too bad. You will always get extra special care and people, even old people, jumping up in the bus to give you a seat. In fact I did not have such a nice experience during my visit in Germany when I was seven months pregnant.
It’s really interesting to see how differently pregnancy is treated and viewed here, and in the end it’s your choice to follow all the rules, just some, or ignore them all together.
What do you think about these rules? Have you ever had similar experiences?
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