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A Chinese physician with a pregnant woman. Wellcome collection / CC by SA 4.0.  By

Weirdest Ancient Chinese Pregnancy and Birth Traditions (Video)

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In ancient China, pregnancy and childbirth were influenced by traditions and superstitions. The Chinese valued the balance of Yin and Yang, representing feminine darkness and masculine brightness. Pregnancy and childbirth were believed to disrupt this balance, making women susceptible to illness. To restore equilibrium, pregnant women consumed specific foods like pork knuckles with ginger and black vinegar to boost Yang. Superstitions were prevalent. Pregnant women protected their thoughts, fearing negative thinking would affect their unborn child. Reading positive poetry and stories was encouraged. Construction and home repairs were delayed until after childbirth to prevent potential deformities from noise.

Evil spirits were a concern. Pregnant women avoided funerals to deter malevolent spirits. Rituals like sleeping with a knife under the bed or hanging scissor-like paper were practiced. Children weren't named until after birth to avoid spirits becoming attached to the child’s name. Celebrating pregnancies before birth was considered unlucky, so festivities were held after the child's arrival. During this period, the grandmother supplied essential baby items. Activities like sitting on a crooked mat, looking at clashing colors, or having sex were deemed harmful. Consuming uncut or unmashed food was believed to lead to careless children. These customs, rooted in superstition and a quest for balance, provide a fascinating glimpse into historical attitudes toward pregnancy and childbirth in ancient China.

Top image: A Chinese physician with a pregnant woman. Wellcome collection / CC by SA 4.0.

By Robbie Mitchell

 
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Robbie

I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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