Postnatal services in China
During my stay in hospital a couple of weeks ago, a random auntie gave me a bunch of leaflets one day. Well, when she saw my face she was going to give them to my roommate instead, but when I asked her “What is that?” in Chinese she changed her mind. I then had a very entertaining hour while I studied the different services that are offered to new parents in China, because they are very interesting indeed, and quite strange for westerners. These were the advertised services:
- The company of a fengshui master that can choose the most suitable name for your baby. This is very important in China, as many people believe that your luck and success in life will be determined by your name. This leaflet was the most complicated one because there were a lot of traditional concepts I am not very familiar with, but I understood that there are several ways to select a name, depending if you want it to be according to fengshui, the yin yang, the I Ching, the Chinese horoscope, if you want the baby to have success in his career or in his marriage, etc. This company can also choose suitable company or brand names and make fengshui analysis of buildings and places.
- A couple of companies doing gift boxes for the guests attending your baby’s month or 100 days party. This party is a bit like a baptism maybe, in the sense that the baby is officially introduced to the community, and it is done when the baby is one month old or 100 days old, depending on the place. C. tells me in Suzhou mostly everybody does it at 100 days now. The gift for the guests is usually a box with pastries.
- A breast massage company to ensure you have plenty of milk. This one made me quite angry as see how their leaflet starts: Usually, women who just gave birth have breast engorgement, breast pain, their milk ducts are not open, they have very little milk, inverted nipples or nipples that are too big or too small, it is difficult to nurse the baby, the baby doesn’t get any milk… Seriously, these people should be in jail, telling super sensitive women that just gave birth that bunch of bullshit. I wonder what kind of certification their masseuses have as I have read about many rip offs and cases in which the woman ended up with her breasts all red and swollen thanks to the “massage”. Besides, so many Chinese women are brainwashed about not having enough milk right from the start and they start giving formula immediately after birth. Hello, your milk won’t come until a few days postpartum, you have colostrum for now and your baby’s stomach is the size of a cherry!! You don’t need to have a fountain on your boobs!! What you do need is support in this key moment though, not people undermining your confidence…
- A company doing memorial objects of your newborn baby. For example, the typical plaque with the baby’s foot and hand print. This is quite normal (except that it is Chinese traditional style so it is framed inside a very ugly frame), but they also do things like calligraphy brushes with the newborn’s hair!! According to Chinese tradition, the baby’s hair has to be cut after one month or so. They can also do pendants and pictures with the hair. Why oh why… but hey, I think some people make pendants with their child’s teeth in the West…
- A company that prepares and delivers special postpartum food. While it’s a good idea to not have to worry about cooking during your first month as a new mother, I am not too keen as to what it is considered appropriate food for a woman that just gave birth. I have heard too many horror stories of women forced to eat half a dozen boiled eggs a day or greasy soup after greasy soup because they supposedly help you produce more milk. In the pictures on the leaflet the only green thing I can see is okra… and among the ingredients they mention there is bird’s nest (about which I’ve read many articles, in Chinese, saying that its nutritional content is lower than that of a humble egg, but at a super expensive price) and donkey-hide gelatin (which is another rip off with no special properties).
I am surprised there weren’t any leaflets of postpartum centres, which are now all the rage in China and Taiwan. They basically are hotel-like clinics where you stay for a month while nurses take care of you and your baby and you have regular doctor visits, massages and other activities. And, of course, special postpartum food. These clinics are obviously very expensive and not really my thing as I can totally imagine the nurses would have some ideas completely different to mine, especially if they follow the traditional postpartum customs in which the new mother is forbidden from showering, brushing her teeth, washing her hair, turning on the air con or the fan, watching any type of screen, getting out of bed and basically doing anything other than staring at the wall while lying down. I’ll just rest alone at home, thank you.
Would you be interested in any of these services if you were a new parent?