Starting from November 2018, P.’s family was experiencing real baby boom. The production was quite intense and three babies are in making. One was born in November 2018, another due this month and who knows when is the next. We’re just waiting to hear about more people in the family announcing theirs.
And so when it all started, I realised how different it is to be pregnant in Hong Kong versus Poland.
1- Things you can eat and do during pregnancy.
Poland: The most important for your diet in Poland is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, fish and meat – generally everything that brings in lots of vitamins and minerals. You would be recommended to eat wholewheat breads, coucous, etc. What you need to avoid is camembert type of cheese, raw fish, seafood and meat, strong tea and coffee, as well as raw eggs and unpasteurised milk. You are also encouraged to work out – there are countless prenatal yoga classes available everywhere.
Hong Kong: Here, you would get a pretty long list of what NOT to eat. First things that I heard were: watermelon and papaya – apparently causing miscarriage. Bananas are no good either. You cannot hold someone else’s baby, because your baby will get jealous and something might happen to it. You should hang a photo of some pretty baby in your house so your baby looks like it. And many many more. Especially connected to food.
2- Things you do before delivery.
Poland: Take leave. Your doctor will advise you on how far into pregnancy can you be up and running to work everyday. Usually women would take the last few months off to rest and prepare for delivery.
Hong Kong: Maternity leave is only 10 weeks, with minimum of 2 weeks before due date. That means you have only 8 weeks after delivery, as long as you are on time. So no matter how big you are and how difficult it is for your to move around, you will be going to work as everybody else. That probably reflects in the high rates of C-sections in Hong Kong, that are somewhere around 40% of all deliveries. You want to have the baby on time. Some people also want it on specific day that would be lucky for the child.
3- Things you do after delivery.
Poland: As per common sense, you go home and take care of your baby. You are alone with it (with help of your clumsy husband) and you feel like zombie, but it’s way better than having someone around telling you what you are doing wrong. Later on, your family comes over to help out with cleaning and cooking. Nurse from hospital would come check on the baby once or twice as well. You are starting your one year leave to take care of the baby, which the government pays 80% of your salary for (at least at the beginning).
Hong Kong: Common tradition in Hong Kong is so called “confinement”. I mentioned it before as well, but you move into your mother or mother-in-law house and have a confinement nanny coming everyday too. They help you take care of the baby and you just need to concentrate on recovering. Very traditional people wouldn’t shower or wash their hair for a whole month of confinement. They would stay in bed mostly, keep warm and eat special foods that are traditionally good for you, like ginger root cooked in soy sauce. After the month is over, you would have only couple of weeks before you go back to work.
4- Thinking about future.
Poland: So the baby is born. There is a long time before it would start school, however as it’s hard to get a spot in school, you would research and apply soon – maybe not in the first year, but the thought is there with you. What’s important is to secure a spot really, by applying on time. The pre-nursery has to be good for your baby, fun and interactive, but mostly fun. Other than that, you don’t think about anything else now, as you are overwhelmed enough with taking care of your crying and pooping little boo.
Hong Kong: Before the baby even pops out, you need to think about the next 16 years of its education. Firstly, you need to live in a place that would secure you a spot in good school. Secondly, you might think about live-in domestic helper speaking English to provide a good start for your child. Of course you need to sacrifice a lot to have it learn basic things that will be asked in interview for its first school. Also, usually specific kindergarten would help children go into specific primary schools, so you can choose lightly. Primary school your child attends also affects which secondary school they would go to. Anyhow, the main point is, being pregnant means you need to plan the whole life for your child. And for yourself, as you would work and take care of the child at the same time.