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Helping Expecting and New Moms in China’s Countryside vs the City

Experiences of a Dutch Lactation Consultant/Midwife in China

I learned a lot during the first years that I worked within the local medical system. I already wrote about Chinese Customs Surrounding Childbirth and Family Dynamics. What else did I learn?

People from urban vs rural China. I have taught and helped families both in the city as well as in rural areas. Looking at my own experience and in talking with LC’s in Beijing and Shanghai, I realize that people in the city tend to be more educated, more open for new and scientific ideas and seem more willing to change. Teaching families in the countryside has been a challenge. It is harder for them to grasp new ideas, let alone consider changing generation long habits. One day I talked with the family of a newly delivered mother about diet and how to keep the baby at the right temperature. At one point the grandmother said: “Oh, but we’re from the country side.” Meaning: we have our traditional habits and we keep to those! Yes, there is resistance to change, but the younger generation in the countryside tends to be easier to reach. When I help a mother and only she and her husband are around, they nod and it seems to click. They are more willing to try new things. But remember: It is the mother (-in-law) who is in charge!

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