Date
20 July 2018
There are lots of rules and food taboos for pregnant women, according to Chinese medicine and traditions. Many of them are, however, irrelevant and outdated. Photo: HKEJ
There are lots of rules and food taboos for pregnant women, according to Chinese medicine and traditions. Many of them are, however, irrelevant and outdated. Photo: HKEJ

Modern rules for modern mums

Expectant Chinese women often find themselves confused by the rules passed along by their grandmothers.

For instance, is the advice for new mothers not to wash their hair for a month after giving birth a joke or something to be taken seriously?

It was valid back in the old days, as women had to avoid getting their hair wet for fear of getting a cold. However, in modern days, we have towels and hairdryers so a rule like this would no longer apply.

Let’s examine the relevance of some of the most-heard advice that mothers-to-be or breastfeeding mothers may encounter:

1. No irritating food?
What makes a food item irritating and why should it be avoided? Mothers can ask themselves questions as such before overacting towards every single food item.

Most of them make smart choices by choosing simple food with limited seasonings and that is good enough. If they are still worried about getting an allergy, they can always check the food label for the information.

2. No medications?
Medications are well-classified, targeting mothers-to-be and breastfeeding mothers as needed, and are very safe. As long as it is a prescribed medicine, it does not have to be totally avoided.

3. No injections?
Vaccine injections are actually under stricter control than drugs. Vaccines should be injected before pregnancy but they do not have to be completely banned after pregnancy if there is an urgent need or under doctors’ recommendation.

An influenza vaccine, for example, can protect a pregnant woman, the infant, the new mum as well as the newborn baby.

4. No cosmetics?
It is rumored that the chemical ingredients will get absorbed by the body. The truth is, cosmetics for external use barely affect the organs, except whitening beauty products with heavy metals. Mothers can feel free to use their cosmetics, especially sunscreen to protect their skin.

5. No medical beauty treatments?
The majority of medical beauty treatments are not radioactive so they are not restricted to a certain type of people.

Pregnant ladies may feel tired of traveling back and forth for the treatment but if they are physically capable, they can always receive medical beauty treatments, whether they are breastfeeding or not.

6. No wart removal?
Warts are grown on the epidermis, so the removal of them would not hurt the inner layers of the skin. Since warts are caused by the infectious human papillomavirus, they should be removed as soon as possible. Mothers, pregnant or breastfeeding, can all receive the operation.

With more advanced technological development, women during pregnancy or breastfeeding period are allowed to do things that their ancestors couldn’t do. Instead of being protected in a greenhouse, they should get out more and enjoy their rights.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 26

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/BN/RC

FHKAM (Paediatrics)

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