Friday 7 March 2014

Culture & Baby Care: "Don't Wash Your Hair!" -- 10 Weirdest Traditional Chinese Advices On Pregnancy in Hong Kong

Pregnancy in Hong Kong is more than just having that baby
Image from

Talk to any Hong Konger in Hong Kong and they will know tonnes about traditional Chinese "advices" on pregnancy. Here are some of the weirdest:

1. Don't wash your hair after giving birth (don't even touch water if possible)!!
Oily hair?
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Why is water such an evil for the new mother? Logical theories behind this is that water could get into the wounds causing infections. Illogical theories go further to say even your hands, face an even hair should not come into contact with water because doing so will allow "cold wind" to enter your body, causing joint pain and headache at old age.

IMHO, who doesn't get joint pain and headache at old age anyway? Also, this might be true in the old days when people live in cottages and farmlands without electricity such that they cannot enjoy a quick body dry with a heater and a hairdryer, but we are now lucky enough to have them accessible almost immediately allowing us the warmest air the moment we step out of the water! How on earth can anything cold get to us?

The key is to maintain good personal hygiene, especially when the mother is still at hospital. You don't want your baby to drink dirty milk or touch by your germy hands!

What my wife did is, she showered and washed her hair since day 1 and then lied to all our parents.

2. Use ginger peel to boil water for bath (to remove "cold wind" from the body)!!
Ginger peel
Image from penandfork

"Okay, if you must have shower or bath, use boiled ginger peel water." Most Hong Kong mothers will consider this an amazing moment when their parents finally let them touch water after a month of "dry spell". While Chinese medicine believes that ginger does have the "expelling wind" property, how much "wind" can be expelled from the body while having that water running down the body in seconds? Take note, you don't get continuous water flow from the shower head in this case, just water from buckles. Yup, the Japanese bath house style.
Japanese bathing
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3. Don't say anything good or bad about your baby!!
"I heard you say good things about me! Now I'm gonna be bad! Real bad!!"
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This is classic! I am the victim of this rule for all so many times!!! When I praised by baby, my parents will snap at me,
"Don't you say that! The baby will get angry!"

What this means is, the baby will behave just the opposite of what good has been said about her as soon as she hears it. Taboo!! At first, I found this laughable, but after much snapping from both my mum and MIL, I have learned to try very hard to shut up. The most ridiculous thing is, they are allowed to say good things about the baby, just not me and my wife!!!

If you consider this a logic, then saying bad things about the baby would work. Unfortunately, wrong again! I still get snapped! What am I supposed to say about my baby then? Should I say "I think she is really ****!"?

4. Don't tell anyone you are pregnant in the first 3 months (or first trimester)!!
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Yet another taboo is to tell others you are pregnant in the first 3 months or the first trimester because the foetus will get angry and decide to opt for a miscarriage.

WHAT ON EARTH!! Does this make any sense to you? I would really love to know the statistics for this myth because if miscarriage is that easy, then that will be a great news for countries with birth control problem!

5. Drink more fish soup, then you'll have more breast milk!!
Fish soup or fish meat? Or simply meat?
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I understand the rationale of a protein-high diet, but why must it be fish soup? Haven't all dieticians already said that drinking soup alone does not add much protein but instead one should eat those meats in the soup?

So don't just drink soup, eat soup!

But then if one should eat meat, then why must it be from the soup? Why can't the meat be an individual dish?

6. Don't let pregnant lady touch your baby's head!!
If a pregnant woman touches your baby's head, your baby will get sick!
Image from
This one is related to the transfer of bad luck from the foetus to the baby? Or is it the absorption of the baby's good luck by the pregnant mum then transferring it to her own foetus? No idea! I don't think the possibility of casting a curse by a normal female is high in this case, just make sure she doesn't have a wand in her hand and she doesn't say "Avada Kedavra!"

8. Rest at home and don't go anywhere a month before and after delivery!!
Friends gathering and shopping really help a pregnant woman psychologically
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I get it, it is to stay away from germs and bacteria, dusty air, pollutions and dangers, but hey, one will get crazy and all moody if one is being locked up for 2 whole months!! What about all those psychological health issues? Don't we need to care about it? My wife had a breakdown after much pressure from her mum and all these weird advices! I seriously think that post-natal depression is actually caused by ill advices from mothers!!!

The solution? Ran out, escaped and shopped!!! So gentlemen, encourage your wife to get out there!

9. Eating "cold" food will lead to miscarriage!!

So, consuming "cold" food in the Chinese term, refers to fruits such as watermelons, mango, etc. and actually cold food in terms of temperature such as ice-cream, cold soda, etc. AGAIN will kill the baby in the first 9 months of pregnancy, but they are fine in the final month.

Statistics! Where are you? Hello!

For the fruits, I can only see the health benefits of them. For cold food, it takes so little energy to warm the cold food back up in the stomach! The mother's body regulates the temperature and so none of those cold stuff will actually get pass your baby's umbilical cord!

10. Don't put nails on anything, don't move your bed, don't renovate your house!!
Moving Earth?
Image from CNET

Feng shui has this thing called "Moving Earth", if you do any of the above, you are "moving earth" and so you disrupt the stability of your home, hence your baby in the wome. Is it fine then after baby's delivery? Well, Feng shui-speaking, yes, but you don't want your baby breathing in chemicals and dust anyway.

Okay, but this only explains why you shouldn't renovate your house, what about moving bed and nailing things? I don't see a single logical argument in these two.

I'm sure there are so much more you can think of, why do you share with me some from your culture?

IMHO -- (internet slang) In My Humble / Honest Opinion
snap -- (vb) [I or T] to say something suddenly in an angry way:
MIL -- (internet slang) Mother-in-law
taboo -- (n)[C] an action or word that is avoided for religious or social reasons:
dietician -- (n)[C] (also dietitian) a person who scientifically studies and gives advice about food and eating
foetus -- (n)[C] (US also fetus) a young human being or animal before birth, after the organs have started to develop
post-natal depression -- (n) Postpartum depression (PPD), also called postnatal depression, is a type of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, typically after childbirth.
umbilical cord -- (n)[C] In placental mammals, the umbilical cord (also called the navel string, birth cord or funiculus umbilicalis) is a conduit between the developing embryo or fetus and the placenta.

Post-natal depression @ Wikipedia

What do “heaty” and “cooling” in TCM really mean? @ Men's Health Singapore

What are Heaty and Cooling Foods?

Does Drinking Ice Water Burn Calories? @ YouTube

Feng Shui 2014 @ Lotus Fengshui

Umbilical Cord @ Wikipedia