20 Ways Pregnancy Is Different In China

Anyone who's curious about pregnancy in China will find this list interesting. Women in China follow different customs and learning about them is fascinating. China has a population of 1.396 billion people. The country's dense population has caused some issues, including overcrowded hospitals, which affect women who are expecting babies. Of course, there's also the two child-rule, which is set to change in the foreseeable future.

In the past, there was a one-child rule, which definitely changed the family dynamic in China. Only children began to be referred to as little emperors. While there were exemptions to the one-child rule, plenty of only children were born under this rule. The first wave of only children is now turning thirty.

Every country has its own approach to pregnancy, based on so many variables, from history to economics and beyond. China is unique due to its former one-child rule and current two-child rule, but that's not all that's interesting about the nation. There is so much more to learn.

On the one hand, Chinese women who are moms-to-be are treated very well at work and protected and guided by elder women. On the other hand, they don't yet have the power to decide how many children they want to have. Some Chinese women are deciding to have no children at all.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

20 Pregnant Women Aren’t Supposed To Overwork Themselves


Chinese women who are pregnant are encouraged to take it easy whenever they can. They are not pushed to work too hard. For example, they are not supposed to do strenuous workouts, even though there is evidence that exercise is beneficial to pregnant women. Chinese moms-to-be may be reluctant to exercise, because they are told by doctors and others that intense workouts may hurt their unborn babies, bring about premature deliveries and trigger miscarriages.

Some expectant Chinese mothers keep their exercise routines private to avoid disapproval. One woman lifted weights while pregnant, even though swimming and yoga are more socially acceptable.

19 Many Pregnant Women Skip One-On-One Time with Partners


Women in China are encouraged to avoid bedroom fun with their partners early in their pregnancies, during their first trimesters, because it's believed that private romantic moments may trigger miscarriages. Some expectant mothers in China go further by avoiding physical contact during the second and third trimesters.

A survey showed that thirty-four percent of Chinese pregnant women chose abstinence during their second trimesters. Women who did remain physically close with their partners tended to have less physical contact than they had when they were not pregnant. In the third trimester, over sixty-four percent of women abstained. Attitudes towards closeness during pregnancy vary from country to country.

18 Certain Foods Are Avoided By Many Pregnant Women


In China, pregnant women are encouraged to balance their Yin and Yang. Pregnancy is referred to as a "hot" state of being, and women are therefore told to consume colder foods during this time, to achieve balance in their bodies. They are discouraged from eating shellfish, which is deemed a "hot" food, that might cause a rash in babies, and they are told not to consume "neutral" pineapple, which might cause them to miscarry.

Some foods are avoided because they are symbolic and are believed to impact the appearance and character of babies. Many pregnant women in China do choose to adhere to food restrictions.

17 There Is a Two-Child Limit (For Now)

via asian times

During 2013, married couples in China were permitted to have two kids if one parent was an only child. Twenty-four months later, the nation made the decision to relax the rules even more. The revised two-child policy began in 2016, and the country's National Health Commission anticipated a higher birth rate. However, the estimate was a bit too optimistic. More babies did come, but not as many as hoped.

During May of this year, reports surfaces that the Chinese government is planning to end all population control rules. This is because the birth rate didn't climb as high as was expected when the rules were relaxed.

16 There Was a One-Child Policy Until 2016


During the latter part of the 1970s and the early part of the 1980s, couples in China had to follow the one-child policy, which was an official government program. The program was brought into being because of population overgrowth. By limiting most families in the country to one child per household, the government hoped to slow down the pace of growth of China's population.

Near the end of 2015, this program's end was announced. The program would cease during the early part of 2016. The one-child policy definitely altered the fabric of Chinese society, because so many small families were created.

15 Plenty Of Moms Have Only Children


Thanks to the one-child rule, plenty of moms in China are parenting only children. A scientific study showed that male only children didn't do as well as female only children. Male only children tended to feel less good about themselves, and to get less positive feedback from friends, parents and teachers. Overall, Chinese kids with siblings tended to feel better about themselves and get better feedback than children with brothers and/or sisters. However, only children born after the one-child rule was implemented fared better than only children born before the one-child rule. This is because society viewed only children differently after the rule went into effect.

14 Only Children May Have Little Emperor Syndrome


China's only children, or "little emperors", were a byproduct of the one-child policy. Little emperors tend to come from families with money and these only children have to try and meet the high expectations of their families. They get tons of attention from their parents and grandparents. Little emperors are perceived as being spoiled. Their families tend to spend lavish amounts of money on them and give them all of the opportunities that they could possibly provide.The parents of little emperors often do basic tasks for their kids that the kids could easily have done for themselves. In some cases, this creates a sense of entitlement in only children.

13 Many Women Wait Until The Year Of The Dragon To Get Pregnant


The Year of the Dragon is considered the most auspicious time to have a baby, so a lot of Chinese women wait to get pregnant until this special time rolls around. The Year of the Dragon is believed to be a lucky time. Even in the USA, IVF and surrogacy clinics see big increases in business from Chinese clients during the Year of the Dragon. Their business surges by as much as two hundred and fifty percent. Many Chinese people think that those born in the Year of the Dragon are destined to access big success in life. They want their children to have that kind of success.

12 Certain Forms Of Pain Relief Aren't As Common During Labor


Pain relief strategies during labor are not as commonplace in China. For example, epidurals aren't administered as much in China as they are in America, Canada and many other parts of the world. The main issue with epidurals is the fact that anesthesiologists need to administer them to women in labor. There is a shortage of anesthesiologists in China.  So, women in China generally don't have access to the strongest pain relief as they deliver their babies. Interestingly, the C-section rate in China was once extremely high, at 46.5 percent, but has now dropped to 35 percent, because many women prefer to have natural deliveries.

11 Many Families Want To Have Sons


Many pregnant women in China feel compelled to wish for sons, instead of daughters, because there is a long-standing belief that sons have stronger chances of becoming great providers for entire families. This is in part because sons become men and men can't give birth. Daughters become women who generally can give birth, and the process of being pregnant and then becoming mothers is perceived as cutting into earning power. Unfortunately, there is still a significant wage gap between men and women in China, as there is is other parts of the world. This is yet another reason why sons are often wished for.

10 There Are Way More Single Men Than Women


Men are outnumbering females in China by a wide margin. What does this mean for the social structure of the country? Well, it means that there are a lot of bachelors. In fact, there are villages in China that are called, "bachelor villages". Men actually outnumber females by a whopping seventy million in China, as well as India. Unfortunately, this imbalance is causing social problems, such as loneliness, and leading to less consumption of goods and services. It's also jacking up illegal activities that pertain to bedroom fun. China's bachelors are sometimes referred to as leftover men. Chinese women are able to be quite choosy about who they settle down with.

9 Some Moms-to-be Choose To Have Babies In Other Countries


Birth tourism from China to the USA is a growing industry. Some pregnant Chinese women choose to come to appealing American destinations, such as sunny California, for a few to several months before giving birth. These women are possibly choosing the USA because they will receive a higher standard of medical care than they would in China. Giving birth to babies that have America citizenship is also a powerful lure. Pregnant Chinese women who opt for birth tourism spend a lot of money on their stays in America. Some spend time in "maternity hotels" which are not as fancy as advertised.

8 Chinese Hospitals Are Overcrowded


The birth tourism trend is likely a product of the realities of the Chinese public health care system. China has a huge population and Chinese public hospitals are overcrowded. However, there are pregnant Chinese women who can't afford to fly to California and stay there for months, or go to other American destinations to prepare for labor (and eventually give birth). These women must wait their turn in crowded public Chinese hospitals. There are private health care facilities in China, but money is required to get medical care at these facilities. So, the rich and poor receive different standards of care.

7 Dads-to-be Don’t Usually Go In Delivery Rooms


In North America and many other parts of the world, dads-to-be are encouraged to go in labor rooms and experience the miracle of childbirth for themselves. They are encouraged to help their pregnant partners get through their labor, and to be very involved with the births of their sons and daughters. In China, dads-to-be typically don't go into delivery rooms. It's not that men don't want to be a part of things. They've actually not been allowed to be. Some couples have been known to bribe medical personnel in order to be together during labor. Younger Chinese men are more interested in participating in labor. Times are changing, but the pace of change is slow.

6 Older Women Help Younger Women


Chinese women who are pregnant are encouraged to get help and guidance from older women. This sounds like a good system. Mature women may have a lot of experience with pregnancy that they can pass on to younger women. They may also offer emotional support, as pregnancy can be rough. Of course, it's not just in China where older women step in to help pregnant women. It's just more of a tradition in China. Pregnant woman rely on older women for advice, guidance and assistance. The older women may be family members. Women help each other out and this is positive.

5 Natural Labor Isn’t The Only Option


Natural labor isn't the only option in China. As we touched on earlier, thirty-five percent of births in China are C-section deliveries. Women do get a lot of C-sections in China. In the past, the percentage was a lot higher, but it's dropped a bit, because many women are now more interested in delivering the natural way. Of course, how a labor progresses really dictates whether or not a woman is a good candidate for a C-section surgical procedure. Things can change so fast in labor and women may need C-sections, even when they thought that they would deliver naturally.

4 Pregnant Employees Are Treated Well


Employers are strongly encouraged to treat pregnant Chinese employees well. There are rules and regulations in place, at the federal government level, which help to protect pregnant women in the workplace. For example, employers don't have the right to terminate the labor contracts of pregnant women or women who are nursing. They can't even do big layoffs when they have pregnant or nursing women on staff. Night shifts and overtime are also off limits to women employees who are seven or more months pregnant. It's good that these rules are in place. Pregnant women do deserve every consideration at work.

3 Nurses Play A Different Role After Childbirth


After a baby is born in a Chinese hospital, the new mother's family is expected to step in and care for the baby until the mother and baby are sent home. Nurses don't play such an active role in antenatal care in China. So, pregnant Chinese women know that they'll need support systems at the hospital with them, until they are feeling well enough to care for their newborns on their own. If a baby has a health issue, or there is some other complication, nurses may take a more active role, but the new mom's family generally does baby care tasks for newborns.

2 Women Pay Up Front For Hospital Services


I live in Canada, where health care coverage is available for a very reasonable rate. I know that our health care system is exceptional, even though it's not perfect. I'm grateful for the health care system in my country. In China, women who are pregnant need to pay in advance for the health care that they need during their deliveries. If pregnant women don't have a lot of money, and there are plenty who don't, this system may create a lot of stress and necessitate a lot of sacrifices. Health care does cost a lot to deliver. In China, women can't pay for it after they have babies. They need to pay up-front.

1 Some Women Can Have Multiple Children


Despite the one-child rule and the two-child rule, and the relaxed two-child rule, there were always women who could have more children than the rules dictated. For example, women in rural areas were often able to have larger families. Also, people who were very wealthy sometimes managed to get around the rules, probably due to payoffs and connections. Now that an end to birth restrictions in China seems to be on the horizon, there will be big shifts in coming years. Women and their partners will have more control over the size of their families. This is a very interesting time for China.

References: Scmp.com, Gbtimes.com, Sciencedirect.com, Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Atimes.com

More in Incredible