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Traditionally in China, when once people got married, they would immediately get ready for having a baby. That is why symbolic things such as dolls or lotus seeds would be put on the beds of the newly weds on their wedding day so as to bring in the meaning of having a baby as soon as possible.
When once a married woman becomes pregnant, things for the baby will start to be prepared. Prams, cot, baby clothes, etc will be readily prepared to welcome the arrival of the new born.
From now on, the health of the mother is of utmost importance. Therefore, the mother should reduce her workload, eat healthily, and employ prenatal education. Prenatal education has come into being for over 2000 years in China. It was believed that a good pregnant mother should eat only meat which was cut only in square cubes, sit only on properly built chairs, walk unswingingly, talk softly, etc. By doing so, the foetus would be able to learn the most valued virtues. Although in present days the above mentioned practice is no longer common, pregnant women in China still behave very carefully so as not to do anything which affects the foetus. Still now most people believe that the structure of the house or flat should not be changed while a woman in the house is pregnant since it will cause the foetus no good but harm.
The first month after giving birth
The first month after giving birth is very important for a mother. She needs the most rest and the best nutrition. Otherwise, her body will not be able to recover and can easily get ill. In this month, she can't go outdoors, can't be exposed to wind, can't wash with cold water, can't drink cold water, can't read books etc. However, if a mother really has to wash herself, she should do so by using water boiled with dried ginger skin. In some places in China, a mother must not wash her hair because otherwise she will get a chronic headache.
Compared to the west, western women can leave home after a week of giving birth and can go to work after two weeks. It is unimaginable in China.
In China, after giving birth, a woman should eat plenty of fish soup and pig knuckle soup. The pig knuckle soup is boiled for a long time with ingredients such as a lot ginger, eggs, pig knuckles in plenty of sweet black vinegar. It is believed that this soup can compensate for the loss of calcium and other nutrients needed by the body. It is a tradition to give out and share such soup to friends and relatives but one can only do so twelve days after the baby is born. Chicken is also ideal for meals after giving birth. In order to help a mother to recover from giving birth, it is recommended that she should eat rice cooked with ginger daily since it can enhance all bodily circulation. Apart from the above, it is also a tradition that after the baby has been born for one lunar month, eggs dyed red should be given to friends and relatives. However, anything salty should be avoided since it will hinder the production of breast milk of a mother.
It is only after the baby has weaned then the mother can start considering controlling her body weight.
Some practices may seem quite unimaginable. However, they are still practiced in most places in China. Even in Hong Kong, women would follow the above traditions as long as family expectations are involved.
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