Prickles needed for a perfect pregnancy


When I first started living in China, as opposed to just being a regular visitor, I went through various stages of cultural acclimatisation.  First there was the shock of the new – a different climate, a language I couldn’t speak or read, lack of a personal support group. Then I started adjusting and thought that life here was really the same as life in any big city, there were all the usual modern amenities, brands of goods, shops and cars that I was familiar with. However I have also learned that just under that surface is a country and people who are decidedly different from us in the west. And it is often in the little things that this shows most clearly.

Last year a friend here became pregnant with her second child (she and her husband already have a 6 year old daughter).  One of the first things she had to get when the pregnancy was confirmed was a cactus.  In fact friends bought and gave her cactii as soon as they heard her news.  What was it with being pregnant and having a cactus??

In China it is widely believed that computers, telephones, laptops, ipads, mobile phones etc give off electromagnetic radiation which could damage a foetus.  Cactii are thought to absorb these rays, so if pregnant, a cactus should be placed beside every one of these items both at home and in the workplace.  The flower markets have whole stalls of cactii of every shape and size ready for just such a situation. 

If you go into a large open-plan office, you can make an educated guess as to which members of staff might be pregnant by checking which desks have a cactus on them!   Personally I think this whole myth must have been started by some clever cactus grower who hit on a fantastic marketing ploy.

In addition to cactii, there is a huge range of  anti-radiation clothing (usually tunics or aprons) which pregnant women buy and wear.  This manufacturing market is so big that it has its own trade association with no less than 60 member companies – despite which there are no industry standards –  scientific it is not.

When I expressed surprise about the cactii and the clothing, and said that in the west we don’t bother with any such things, my female friends here were aghast. Surely, they said, we worried about the outcome for the babies, and as my daughter had a baby last year hadn’t I even considered such protection?

Nope. Never even crossed my mind.  And why would it – a computer gives off less radiation than one gets from the sun if out for a walk, and on the whole our western babies are just fine.

I don’t think I can persuade them though, with most families sticking to the one-child policy no Chinese mums-to-be are prepared to take a chance.

About herschelian

Recently moved to Beijing from London - its all new to me! Trying to learn Chinese, and what makes this city tick.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Prickles needed for a perfect pregnancy

  1. Sheila Taylor says:

    You’re right – you couldn’t make it up. Both my sons have cactii – what does that say about them?!

    • herschelian says:

      Well, as neither of them are Chinese women of child-bearing age I don’t think it says anything really – except that maybe they find caring for cactii easier than caring for azaleas or cyclamen!

  2. Kit says:

    Perhaps we should all have cacti by our computers. Shouldn’t we have protection even if we’re not currently pregnant?!

  3. fhfrances says:

    Then again, the cactus would only be able to do so much. Any kind of pain you experience need not hamper with your daily tasks if you could check out the Synergy Institute website to see the treatments they offer for pregnant women.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s