Exploring Chinese women's cultural beliefs and behaviours regarding the practice of "doing the month"

Eleanor Holroyd, Sheila Twinn, Ip Wan Yim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


It is well recognized that individual health behaviour is embedded in cultural patterns of exchange. This study sought to identify Chinese women's cultural beliefs and behaviors related "doing the month" and suggest how these are modified in the light of contemporary realties and experiences within the context of rapid social change. Ethnographic interview data was gathered by means of a telephone interviews (postnatally) with 100 eligible primiparous women who had attended hospital based antenatal programmes. The analysis highlighted a range of issues for these predominately middle class women which included special postpartum dietary beliefs and behaviours including the avoidance of hot and cold food, the restorative powers of food, wind and water prohibitions, food proscriptions and prohibitions during breast feeding, the cultural imperative of timing and contemporary autonomy of women versus conforming to female centered kinship obligations. It is concluded that health professionals working with Chinese women need further awareness of the cultural significance of adherence to postnatal practices and their fundamental links to the health status of postpartum women, and family relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-123
Number of pages15
JournalWomen and Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


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