What my mother-in-law learned

Yet another article about my mother-in-law, hope it is not taking over soon!

Today I am writing about what she learned since arriving here and how it changed her perception towards much of the traditional Chinese art of taking care of newborns. As any other Chinese grandma 奶奶 she came to help us out when the baby was born. This would usually mean a lot of forcing the daughter to stay in bed for about a month, much soups and other food which in theory, should improve the mothers well-being after giving birth and of course all sorts of cuddling, singing, swinging and spoiling the little newborn baby prince. But instead she encountered a daughter who was strictly against any kind of zuo yuezi 坐月子and especially against the Chinese art of taking care of newborns. There were many battles between my wife and her mother which a lot of shouting and tears but in the end my wife won!

For endless weeks mother-in-law was frustrated, saying always how much her daughter will suffer because of not doing the resting month, that the baby won’t have enough milk because of it and how much the baby will suffer because she can’t cuddle him. But much to her surprise, my wife showed no trouble thus far, there is more than enough milk for the baby and besides our little son is a peaceful little thing who barely cries. Now, here is the kicker, according to mother-in-law her daughter is just a special case that she has enough milk, she also doesn’t believe our doctor who says that 98% of all women produce enough milk for their babies. Somehow she is able to twist it around  and says things like “Chinese are different!”, so Chinese are the only human beings who needs to drink oily soups to produce milk for their babies? I don’t think so…

Now the real learning started when we visited other Chinese couples who just had babies or they came by at our place. All of them followed the zuo yuezi and all of the felt still miserably weak, they had not enough milk and all of them were exhausted of taking care of their babies as since their mothers or MIL’s left, no one had the energy to take care of the baby on such a high degree as all of those babies needed now 24/7 carrying around, swinging and whatsoever. My wife told them to try to stop drinking for example those soups and 4 out of 5 had weeks later enough milk for their babies! Now I don’t want to suggest that all the food during zuo  yuezi is bad but there are things which are not really useful such as the soups. We asked our midwife and doctor about it and they recommended not to eat any oily food as it might reduce the milk production (nearly all soups I have seen thus far were pretty damn oily).

After meeting these different Chinese with their experiences my mother-in-law was suddenly very happy that she didn’t do all these things and how much easier our life appears now compared to others. Of course it also depends on the baby, every baby is different, but we learned here from the midwives that we should try to avoid carrying the baby around the house as much as possible and just should try to calm it down when it is in its own crib etc. otherwise the baby would somehow develop this “must have to be” feeling towards being soothed down through cuddling etc.


Please note: We let mother-in-law hold her grandson and sing to him but not on such level as we have experienced at other families, so no worries there.


9 thoughts on “What my mother-in-law learned”

  1. This is another hilarious story about your mother-in-law. Very nice to hear that your family is doing well and your new son is not giving you all too many problems. I’ve heard of those oily soups too. I’ve seen some of them in Malaysia and personally I don’t like the smell of them and will not touch them with a ten foot pole. Anything swimming in oil can’t be good for us… I heard they taste bitter too. It doesn’t sound like your mother-in-law is doing much in your house…

  2. Any time I told my Chinese colleagues that we don’t do yuezi, we eat icecream when we have our periods and nothing happens, etc, invariably their answer is: “But Chinese are different! We need to follow these rules because our bodies are weak!”. Yeah right.

  3. ‘Chinese are different’ is the answer for any kind of question or suggestion that could ruin things they believe in. When I say cold drinks don’t make my period more painful, both my husband and his mom reply ‘Chinese are different from white people’. Very convenient excuse 🙂 I hope other couples can get better. Even our landlord’s wife said she felt much better not having that whole care around her than the time her mom and MIL were doing everything for her etc.

    1. My wife asked her mother to this “but we are different”:
      “So howcome Chinese can compete at Olympics if we are so different and so much weaker than other people?” to this her mother had no answer :p

  4. Your wife really stands up for herself against her mother. When my children were born, my Chinese mother-in-law was on the other side of the world, but my mom lived just across the street from us. She had a few suggestions, but, luckily she didn’t try to influence my decisions. Pushy, opinionated mothers can be found the world over.

    1. My wife used to watch alot of Chinese drama shows with the main topic of pushy mother-in-laws. I guess the topic is so top in China due to the circumstance that the mother of the husband usually starts living with the newly wed couply.
      Due to these shows she was a bit afraid of my mother at first but that quickly changed after meeting her first time 🙂

  5. I’m just reading through some of your archives! Really glad that your wife “won” and MIL kind of changed her mind. i think this is one of the Chinese traditions that need to go now! When my colleagues moan about not being able to take a shower for one month after having a baby and say how much they would/did wish to have a shower- I want to say just take a shower then!! The “we’re different” argument is always used by them too whenever they realise in other cultures we shower (or as the above person said we eat ice cream all month long if we wish ha!) and it is really annoying!

    1. I heard the “we are different” argument too often by now. You might get the idea that Chinese are a different species! Somehow this statement is always coming when they have no further explanation or reason why they do it except perhaps”we so this for thousands of years so it is right”, oh well I don’t really listen to these things anymore:)

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