Having a Baby Chinese Style

The way you measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 126 – 7 March 2013

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Having a Baby Chinese Style

Well, my grandson was finally born on 8th February in Shanghai – a very auspicious date – and also just on the very tip of the dragon’s tail, 10th February being the start of the snake year. I was very excited to be there and be part of a very special moment, hearing the baby’s first cry, about 20 minutes later getting a first glimpse of him as the nurse came out and showed him off briefly.

Now this is the abridged version of the story. My daughter-in-law is Chinese so although it was a Western style hospital, everything that happened was very Chinese and being a Westerner, I found a lot of the practices confronting and downright bizarre. At the end of the day though, it really all boils down to different customs, different practices based on different cultural beliefs. There is no right or wrong, better or worse, just difference. Because I was outnumbered, as it were, I had to go with the flow, despite my astonishment.

The first thing was that when Vicky’s mother took Vicky and Jeremy to the hospital where Vicky was to be induced, she stayed! What was she to do while Vicky and Jeremy were having the baby? Apparently Vicky needed her mother. So why would the father need to be there? What was his value? I’m sure the Chinese family all thought the same thing. Answer – he is redundant because the mother is there.

After a day of labour the inducement was abandoned, to be resumed the next day. The drip was turned off. Vicky’s father and I went to the hospital to visit – along with ‘Uncle Tom Cobbley and all’ – 10 people in the birthing suite.

When we came home, everyone else except me, plus a few others besides, went back into the hospital at 10.00pm just on the off-chance that Vicky might go into spontaneous labour, so that when I arrived next morning again the waiting room was awash with her family, all popping in to see her in between contractions! Finally Jeremy insisted they stay out and let Vicky get on with having this baby, but it was not until the nurse locked the door that they stopped coming into the room.

Finally the baby was born at 10.25pm and we all went home, except for Jeremy, Vicky, Vicky’s Mum and baby. I have no idea why we were all there all day but there you go. When in Rome and all that.

Next morning, Jeremy had given Vicky’s Dad strict instructions not to come in early and to tell all the other relatives not to come in early as Vicky had just been through two days of labour and needed to rest. Despite the promises, the instructions fell on deaf ears. The young family were again inundated with visitors.

The following day they all came home from hospital but then the visitors really started coming. I was feeling really upset for Vicky and Jeremy who clearly needed to sleep but were always denied it, while I was allowed to burp the baby and change the dirty nappies!

Far from being a whinge about my son’s in-laws, this story is about a typical Chinese birth. In China the child is brought up by the family, not the parents. Westerners must get over it. At the end of the day, children grow up in spite of their upbringing and our judgement of that upbringing. I am reminded of the documentary ‘Babies’ (check out Kidz Newz #106) in which babies from 4 countries – Mongolia, Japan, the USA and Namibia – are tracked from pre-birth to their first birthday. Despite their vastly different economic and social circumstances and their vastly different cultures, what they all had in common was love of their parents, their wider family and the community. This love gives the child security, no matter what the customs might be of the individual cultures concerned.

This is the bottom line. So despite my initial shock at what I perceived to be a lack of respect for my son and daughter-in-law, I now realise that it’s all about the baby. I will miss him when I return to Australia, but I know that he will be getting loved by an enormous network of family.

Kidz-Fiz-Biz Resources

If you want the children in your midst to have the best start in life, check out the Kidz-Fiz-Biz resources.

Wanting to attend a PD but not in Perth? Check out the Kidz-Fiz-Biz DVD Let’s Get Physical.

Quotes of the Week

“Babies breathe with their entire body unless they have been traumatized. When they hold their breath, they hold the emotions of trauma in chronic muscular contractions. The bioelectric energy then shapes the character of the developing child and its personality.” ~ Wilhelm Reich, MD “Character Analysis”

“Children are natural mimics. They act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners.” ~ Anon


Paramedics got a call to assist with a woman in childbirth, only one paramedic responded to the call. Due to a power outage, the house was very, very dark, so the paramedic asked Kathleen, a 3-year-old girl, to hold a flashlight high over Mummy so he could see while he helped deliver the baby. Very diligently, Kathleen did as she was asked. Hilda pushed and pushed, and after a little while Connor was born. The paramedic lifted him by his little feet and spanked him on his bottom, Connor began to cry. The paramedic then thanked Kathleen for her help and asked the wide-eyed 3 year old what she thought about what she had just witnessed. Kathleen quickly responded, “He shouldn’t have crawled in their in the first place….smack him again.”


What would you tell people about this presentation? (ECCPA 2011)

“Excellent with lots of practical ideas.”

“Great involvement. Excellent. Lovely. I learnt a lot that was achievable with my children and useful straight away.”


About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E: info@kidzfizbiz.com

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Until next time … continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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