Saturday, November 1, 2014


I appreciate the opportunity to go down the memory lane. Both of my children love hearing about their different birth experiences.

I was 36 when giving birth to my son, Matthew. I was the kind of parent who read everything in preparation for the birth. I gave up both coffee and wine.  I was 38 when I gave birth to my daughter, Tory. By that time, I was more relaxed and decided it was okay to have coffee during pregnancy. A funny thing happened as a result of that. Tory suggested that she’s smarter because I drank coffee during her prenatal development! It has become an ongoing debate between my two children – who is smarter and why!

During my first birth, after a few hours of labor, my doctor recommended that I get a cesarean birth.  By that time, both my husband and I were too tired to fight back.  The c-section was without complications. 

Two years later, pregnant with my daughter, I figured that I would be getting a c-section.  But, while in labor at the hospital a different doctor who was on call and was Vietnamese, urged us to consider a vaginal birth. I became petrified at the idea of having a VB. The doctor was persuasive, and we decided to brave it. Twenty minutes later, my daughter was in my arms. And, just one more fact, my husband fainted, and the medical staff had to tend to him.

A cesarean birth is different from a vaginal birth in many ways.  When I had my c-section, it was treated as a medical issue. I stayed at the hospital for five days while recuperating from my surgery. My baby boy was brought to me whenever I asked and not kept in the same room as me.

Whereas after giving birth to Tory in the afternoon, it was decided to keep me at hospital for an overnight. But early next morning, my doctor suggested I go home, and that was less than 24 hours! This was the last thing I wanted to do because, with my firstborn, we stayed at the hospital for five days.

During both births, neither my family nor my husband’s family was available to stay with us so we were practically all by ourselves. This was a little scary and hard, but we bonded as a family.

We also decided to read to our babies nightly from the day they both got home. This decision was a huge factor in my children’s excellent reading development.

My son is now 23 years old and teaching English in China. So, I decided to check out how women give birth in China.  It is awfully hard to keep my American cultural views at bay while researching for how babies get born in China.

I googled birth practices in China, and mostly I found blogs on the topic of expats giving birth in China. And some other blogs were more of an opinion. I questioned the validity of the information in most blogs. It did appear from further research that most of the world's births in the bigger cities of the developing worlds have adopted the Western notion of a cesarean birth. Seems like most births in China are cesarean. In more rural areas, there seems to be a lack of information about their birth practices.

There are both Western-style and Chinese hospitals. The first decision an expat would make is to decide which hospital you prefer to give birth. Then there is a list of advice for expats who opt to give birth at a Chinese hospital. “Cultural differences mean that expectant parents may need to be forceful to ensure that they get what they want.” (Giving Birth, 2014).  Then there is a list of  “what to take to hospital: food, bed linen, painkillers, entertainment, blankets and towels for the baby.” From another blog, at a birth at a Chinese hospital, the husband cleaned up his wife. Ugh.

One of their customs for Chinese women is to Zuo Yue Zi (“lay-in) where women follow rules for a month after giving birth. The rules include no hair washing, no shower nor washing of any kind. Food has to be brought to her in bed. She must wear a hat to keep her head warm for a full month. She’s not allowed to expose her hands and feet. Women undergo Zuo Yue Zi so that “I will have less diseases in the old age.” Usually, the mother or mother-in-law will stay with the new mother.


Giving Birth. (October 2014). Angloinfo. Retrieved from:

Selin Davis, L. (2012). The best and worst places to give birth. CNN Health. Retrieved from:

Woods, J. (January 2013). 8 Lessons Learned about Giving Birth in China. Vagabond Journey. Retrieved from:


  1. Marla, Thank you for sharing your childbirth experience. I liked the way you compared and contrasted your two different experiences. Your family sounds like a fun bunch and I appreciate you sharing about your children's ongoing argument. The bits about China you chose to share are very interesting. I think I will stay right here in America. (not that I will be birthing any more children at age 47)

  2. Good information. In Japan, after the mother gives birth she is given a handbook. The similarities of China and Japan is that mother's are required to bring their own bed linen, hygiene products, etc.

  3. Marla,
    I am so glad you had a doctor that cared enough about you to suggest that you have a VBAC. It seems like doctors like that in this country are few and far between! I enjoyed reading your post.
    I also wish we had a custom in the US where we had to have food brought to us in bed for a month.. wouldn't that be wonderful?