Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mandarin Somedays: 坐月子 (Zuo Yue Zi, The Chinese Sitting Month)

I have had lots of ideas to blog about, but not a lot of time with other things going on. I am going to be trying to catch up here some in the next week, but we'll see how it goes. I thought since I hadn't done a post about China in a while I'd start with this.

The Chinese have strong cultural beliefs re­garding most aspects of life, and because of the long history of Chinese medicine these are deeply engrained in their both their daily life and medical system. After giving birth to Alexander, that we learned how strongly these beliefs are held.
Best Made in Chine "Product" we found this year

It is generally accepted (these ideas even per­petuated by doctors) that the mother should lie in bed for at least one month doing nothing. And tra­ditionally they really mean nothing, including reading, showering, and brushing your teeth. Now some moms aren’t quite that extreme, but most moms and babies stay inside for the first month for fear that if they step outside the sun or wind will cause them to be ill the rest of their lives. Usually the only time they go outside during that first month is to come home from the hospital about a week after delivery. During this month in our province you are supposed to eat about five million eggs preferably in brown sugar/egg soup.

We have seen first hand some women in our apartment complex taking these beliefs very seriously. One mother and baby pair came home from the hospital recently. The mother had what looked like a pillow case tied around her head and the baby was covered with a towel, to keep the sun and wind off of them. My husband saw another very pregnant woman accepting a delivery of eggs. An entire van was filled with boxes and boxes of eggs for her.

Walking in the sun
Baby Alexander and I left the hospital 4 hours after birth, went outside to walk around in the sun 5 days later, traveled over 1,000 miles by train, and didn’t eat very many extra eggs, but somehow survived, despite all the grandmothers chasing us down to warn of imminent doom.

We do believe that the people giving advice do care about our well being and are happy that people care about us. It is just interesting when everyone feels as comfortable giving you advice as your own grandmother, but then family relations are very different here too.

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