Category Archives: Women

Free Books About China

A couple of years ago I wrote a few ebooks about Chinese life and culture with my son Nathaniel. We wrote about Chinese snacks, going to a Chinese kindergarten and celebrating the Chinese New Year. The stories are short and simple (I was working with a four year old at the time!) and we included some pictures and then I published on Amazon’s Kindle platform. They sell for $2.99 each or are free if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited.

 

 

I consistently sell a lot of these books around Chinese New Year and, over all, they have been downloaded by thousands of people. But few people take time to leave reviews…and I’m hoping you can help.

 

Through Tuesday, January 10 the following titles will be free for download:
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to download and read one or more of them and then leave a review to help boost the rankings.

Win A Copy of

Knocked Up Abroad Again

For each review that you leave on my books, (one per book, of course) I’ll enter you to win a copy of Knocked Up Abroad Again, an anthology of 26 stories of women who’ve been pregnant, given birth or raised kids in countries other than their passport one. If you have it already, another book can be substituted.

 

Bonus: If you buy/read/review MaoMao and the Nian Monster by Anna Zech, I’ll give you another entry. Anna’s become an online friend over the last year, and I purchased her book a few years ago when it first came out. A great introduction to Chinese New Year with beautiful illustrations.

 

After you write your reviews, please email me at Charlotte Edwards Zhang (at) gmail (dot) com (remove the spaces and format it correctly…I just don’t want a lot of spam after posting this) with the title of the book you reviewed and your Amazon user name. I’ll also give extra entires for sharing on social media. Again, just send an email with the link to your post and I’ll give you another entry.

 

Reviews should be left before January 26, 2017 and I’ll choose a winner and post it while I watch the annual Spring Festival Gala.

Thanks so much and all the best for a wonderful Year of the Rooster.

 

Six Things to Know About Prenatal Hospital Visits In China

For reasons that are no longer clear to me, with both pregnancies I didn’t go to the hospital until I was three to four months along in the pregnancy. Maybe this was because we were nervous about another miscarriage and didn’t tell anyone right away, unlike the first time. Or perhaps it was just to avoid all the chaos that is going to the maternity department at a hospital.

 

One of the biggest surprises I had was when we were walking outside one night, pregnant with our son, and I commented on how nice it was that our house was just a five minute walk, if even that, to the hospital. It’s where my husband works and I assumed that it’s where I’d give birth.

 

Oh, no, he informed me. They no longer have a maternity department since it’s a smaller community hospital  and the larger General Hospital wants to be in control of things. At that point (2008) there were just two hospitals at which babies were delivered. Our son was born at the GH and our daughter at the other one in 2012. A year later, that department was shut down and all the doctors and nurses reassigned positions or transfered to the GH.

 

That said, there are some private hospitals on the other side of town, but they aren’t regulated in the same way and are much more expensive. I imagine this situation doesn’t happen in larger metro areas, but if you’re in a smaller town, make sure you know where you can go to get prenatal care and have the baby.

 

Now, once you find a hospital, here are some things you need to know:

 

Go early. Hospitals tend to open at 8 am but people’s start queuing as early as 7 am to ensure that they are seen before the staff goes home for their two hour lunch break (at least that’s the norm in smaller towns like mine). Here there are no appointments, though there are some things are only done on certain days of the week. For example, the blood glucose testing is only done on Tuesday’s, at the hospital where my son was born.

 

Take your medical record book to every visit. Pen and paper still rules when it comes to medical care in Chinese hospitals. They only use the computers for citizens who have medical insurance cards, which need scanned to deduct the money. On your first visit you’re given a booklet that they fill out with your name, age and all those other stats that are important. This book includes space for all the details of your future visits as well.

 

You’ll see lots of doctors, all female. There’s no such thing as a primary care physician and the same holds true for prenatal care. Expect to see lots of doctors on each visit, but you can feel relaxed knowing that they’re all female. Men aren’t allowed to work in this department, and male nurses in China are about as rare as foreigners in my city. I know they’re here, but I never see them!

 

Exam rooms are also female only. Unlike Western clinics, where appointments are done in the privacy of an exam room with one patient and one doctor, and the dad is welcome, in the Chinese hospitals I had my kids at, there was one large room with several desks and tables. It finally clicked why so many women were accompanied by their mothers in law; even if the husband didn’t have to work at that time, he could only sit in the hall and smoke. (Yes, smoking is allowed I the shot pails, though it’s starting to be banned in top tier cities).

 

Take plenty of cash. The Chinese health insurance system provides a prepaid card to I discuss, though foreigners are not allowed to be part of this system. One resound its good to have a person accompany you to your visit is that they can go to pay the bill while you wait in line. I have records from one visit with my daughter where I needed both a bloody test and ultrasound.

 

In both cases, I went to queue up while hubby paid the bill and then returned with the recipes which we had to give to the doctor before they’d serve us. Fortunately, routine services are cheap. The ultrasound was around 100 RMB. Blood tests are similarly priced.

 

Return in the afternoon for results. While you can get your test results back on the same day, you have to return to the hospital after a set time, usually 3-4 pm to get them.

 

Disclaimer: I’ve only been to public hospitals and this has been my experience. I know lots of ex pats who’ve given birth in international hospitals in China and private Chinese hospitals where they had different experiences.

 

Have you had a baby in China? Share your experience–no matter what type of hospital–in the comments!

 

Other posts in the Having A Baby In China Series:
the American Embassy regulations
prenatal vitamins and radiation smocks
•prenatal hospital visits
•birthing classes
•breast feeding
•shopping for baby
•delivery
•the Chinese zuo

Having A Baby In China: Prenatal Vitamins and Radiation Smocks

pregnancy in China
A two-part smock that pregnant women in China wear to keep the baby safe.
Prenatal Vitamins and Supplements in China
With my son I didn’t take any supplements or extra vitamins besides the regular woman’s daily and extra vitamin C that I always took. I ate a very healthy diet of mostly vegetables and some meat (we were paying off my student loans that year, so money was tight) and I walked everywhere and exercised daily. Apparently we didn’t feel that I needed anything else.

 

Fast forward to finding out we were expecting our second child, and my husband bought me some prenatal vitamins. They were a pink chew-able that I took daily for the rest of the pregnancy. By this time I was more familiar with the pharmacy and bought calcium supplements as well, since I don’t like milk and only drink it when mixed with iced coffee and cocoa powder. 🙂
But since there are lots of questions about the safety of medicines and supplements in China, and since they don’t weigh all that much, I’d suggest bringing them along or buying some online and having them shipped here.

 

Radiation Proof Smocks (Fang Fu Yi Fu)
These are massively popular as Chinese are very concerned about radiation. When I was pregnancy with our first, my husband told me to stay out of the kitchen when I used the microwave. Because of this inconvenience, and because Chinese food does not reheat well at all, I slowly stopped using it and by the time we moved two years later, I no longer used it at all.

 

He also asked me to go to the shopping center to buy a smock that protects against radiation which is made of special material that makes it more difficult for the radiation to affect the growing baby. I went, unsure of what I’d find, and even though there were ones that would fit my size-14 body, the price tag didn’t fit our budget. They ran about 500 yuan, so I decided that I’d just keep the internet off unless I was using the computer. I’m not sure how much of this is hype, since most parents only get one shot at having a kid, they want it to be the best, brightest and healthiest, but some Western websites say that the amount of radiation that a person is exposed to on a daily basis is minimal and Fit Pregnancy says that you should keep your cell phone a safe distance away from you since does pose the most risk.

 

By the time I had my daughter, I was freelancing and using the computer several hours a day. Online shopping had also developed to where people trusted sellers and weren’t afraid to use sites like Taobao.
One day he came home with a package for me: a navy blue smock, the same as the one pictured above except navy, complete with an inner piece, to wear whenever I was at home. You wear them together, with the silver one inside.

 

Most Chinese women wear them all the time, but I had something against wearing it out in public–not to mention that it was so hot–so I agreed to wear both pieces at home, and the inner layer even at night. You can’t wash them, so I made sure to always wear an apron when cooking and cleaning.

 

Afterwards, my husband sold it on a local Craigslist-like site for something like 50 yuan.
Other posts in the Having A Baby In China series:
the American Embassy regulations
•prenatal vitamins and radiation smocks
•prenatal hospital visits
•birthing classes
•breast feeding
•shopping for baby
•delivery
•the Chinese moon month (zuo yue zi)

Feminine Products In China

I never figured I’d blog about this topic, but seeing as this site is meant to help expat women living in China, I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss it. That special time once a month, when a special visitor comes.
One thing you’ll notice is that things are smaller in China: I wear an American large top, a recent shirt I bought says it’s a 4XL! Bags of chips come only in single serving bags. There are no gallon pails of ice cream; the largest containers I’ve seen are smaller than the Ben&Jerry’s that I can consume in a single day. So it should come as no surprise that pads come in packages of five or six. Yes, enough for a day…maybe. You have to fill your cart with five to six packages each month. I used to hit up a couple of different stores, all within walking distance of my house, just because it felt strange to buy so many.
Tampons are virtually non-existent in Chinese shops. In large cities you’ll be able to find them in foreign stores, but if you’re brand-loyal, bring a stash with you.
I like the Whisper brand which is like the American brand Always. They’re more expensive (6-7 yuan for a package of 5) but are lightweight and do their job.

A few years ago I won a Diva Cup from a blog. I thought it would be interesting and it’s worked really well and I can get buy with just a package of liners (which, oddly enough, come in packs of 18-20). I love that the cup is reusable and easy to take care of.

Just last week I learned about these sea sponge tampons that can be used for the same purpose. I’m intrigued and might pick some up the next time in the States.
On a related note, I’ve never seen medicine for cramp, pain relief or PMS. I never dealt with any of this until after my son was born and even then it was minor. I’ve since discovered that Evening Primrose Oil softgels are very helpful in combatting PMS. I’d taken it prior to the birth of my daughter, and then kept taking it since I had so much left. When I found that it’s good for PMS, I bought more and continued taking it. I didn’t notice a difference until I stopped taking it–for no reason other than that I was too lazy to take one each day–and then my mood fluctuated as much as the tones in a Chinese sentence!
An interesting cultural note, apparently Chinese women are told to do little housework during this time of the month and girls are exempt from PE class when their monthly visitor arrives. I know in the summer months I see a lot of the middle school girls sitting in the bleachers while the rest of the kids are our for PE. At Speaking of China, blogger Jocelyn writes about how her Chiense husband takes over the cooking and cleaning so that she can rest for a few days each month. How nice is that?

Having A Baby In China

There’s so much to share about living in China…with or without kids! I should have started this blog years ago, but now’s better than never.

First up, I’m going to tackle the subject of having a baby in China. Yes, I know that a lot of Western women go back to their home countries to have their babies (and a lot of Chinese women are going abroad so that their kids get foreign citizenship), but for some of us, it’s far more practical to have them here.

Both of my kids were born here, in local small-town hosptials, and had great care. A different kind of care than you’d get in the West, but we were well taken care of.

Due to the cost of going back to America, plus the fact that I don’t have any sort of health insurance, going back was never an option or came across our radar until I was about 7 months pregnant with my second child. The law is kind of murky about second children, even for foreigners since any child born in China is considered Chinese.  Even after transfering foreign citizenship to your child, in the eyes of the country, the child is still Chinese.

That said, get your baby’s citizenship changed as soon as you can. I had to follow the Chinese practice of zuo yue zi where women can’t leave the house for a period of time, usually a month to 45 days. But I know most couples who are both foreigners and live in Beijing will make the embassy their first stop on their way home from the hospital.

That said, my first piece of advice is to find out what your country requires for transfering citizenship to your baby if he or she is born abroad. The American embassy has different policies depending on if the couple are both Americans, the father is, the mother is, they are married or they’re not married. And remember to check their site throughout your pregnancy. I’m sure they don’t change things all that often, but we did find some significant changes between our first and second child.

In future posts I’ll talk about:

  • the American Embassy regulations
  • prenatal vitamins and radiation smocks
  • prenatal hospital visits
  • birthing classes
  • breast feeding
  • shopping for baby
  • delivery
  • the Chinese zuo yue zi (Moon Month)

Your turn: What questions do you have about having a baby in China? Leave me a note or email me at CharlotteEdwardsZhang (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know.