Prenatal, Pregnancy and Childbirth Practices

Traditional Chinese beliefs about pregnancy and childbirth

The pregnancy and childbirth practices of the Chinese culture are different than our traditional beliefs. After reading through several resources I found that most to the practices are in the best interest of mother. During pregnancy, the Chinese believe that the woman should not have sex or lift heavy objects. Pregnant women are expected to take on a “sick” person’s role. They believe that glue and adhesives may cause the baby to have birthmarks so this should be avoided. Gender reveal charts are used to determine the gender of the baby and most of the time they are accurate.
During childbirth the maternal grandmother is allowed to be present only during the first birth. The father is not allowed in the room but is given the privilege to give the baby his or her first bath. The mother is not expected to yell out during child birth.  After giving birth, the mother is not allowed to drink anything cold, have a shower or go outside for an entire month. The mother is expected to wear thick socks to keep her feet warm. What we would call the postpartum period is called the “sitting month” in the Chinese culture and it last for 30days. The goal in the Chinese culture is to ensure a balance “ying and yang.”
I selected the Chinese culture because I have several Chinese families enrolled in my child care center. I learned so much about their culture and the birthing experience. There was an article in the paper and my local news station reported a major change in the Chinese culture that was related to the family size. Their government changed the “one child” rule, which began in the 1970’s. This rule stated that families could only have one child. As a result in the rule, many families would put their daughters up for adoption or place them in an orphanage. This was because the fathers wanted to have sons so that their family name would carry on.

My Birth Experience

The birth of my daughter was the greatest experience of my life. I spent 9 months getting prenatal care and my husband, at that time, never missed a doctor’s appointment. The hospital that I selected was wonderful. They allowed my husband in the room along with my mother-in-law, best friend and my mother. It was a family affair. My daughter was one week late and I had to be induced. Because of the induction, I was not able to move around. I was confined to the hospital bed. After the longest nine and a half hours of my life, my little red hair baby girl arrived. She was kicking and screaming and I was eager to hold her. For the first time in my life I felt a major sense of nervousness. How was I supposed to be responsible for the life of someone else?  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to be the “perfect” mother. My postpartum period after my daughter’s birth was very hard. I was a new mother, trying to learn to nurse and really didn’t have the help that I needed.  My friends and mother did not breast feed so they were eager to tell me to use give her formula. This was the hardest part of becoming a new mother. I was determined to breastfeed so I stuck with it. Eventually I became a “pro” 🙂

As I begin to think about my birthing experiences, I become emotional. I can picture that day as if it were yesterday. At times, it is hard to believe that it has been sixteen years.

Comparison

The birth experience plays a role in development. For example, my son had a knot in his umbilical cord and the cord was wrapped around his neck. This caused a delay in the development of expansion of his lungs causing him to have asthma. As I think about my own birth experience and that of the Chinese, I realize that our birth experiences are different.  In America, many expectant mothers are expected to take it easy during the first 12 weeks and then resume normal activity during the rest of the pregnancy. Most of the births in America take place in birthing centers and hospitals, which are considered controlled environments.  The postpartum period in America is similar to that in China. We are allowed six to eight weeks depending on the type of birth or birth complications. We are allowed to eat what ever we want and the food does not have to be bland. Most Americans are not interested in creating a balance. Our experiences are different than the Chinese culture. During my pregnancy, I was expected to continue working as usual. In America, most hospitals allow more than one person in the delivery room. This was important for me because my husband is an only child. His mother wanted to be present and my mother wanted to be their too. I was able to have five people in the room and this made the birth of my daughter a family affair.

mariah & Me


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