Pregnant Women Don’t Work in China, I think

photo source

You have no idea what a revelation that was for me.

What’s perhaps more astonishing is that it took me a full 4 months to figure out why I saw so many pregnant women wandering around town, rubbing their bellies and wearing Mickey Mouse crocs at 2pm in the afternoon.

You can imagine that in China, the infamous land full of only children, pregnancy is sort of sacred and revered state of being.

You’d also think it would be quite rare on these city streets though, given that pregnancy is a rather temporary state of being and less than half of the Chengdu population will ever experience it.

And yet, it’s not.

One of the first thing I noticed during my early rambling walks around Chengdu was just how many baby bumps I saw everywhere.

Everywhere I looked I saw women wearing similar baggy, knee-length dresses and fake rubber shoes, rubbing their bellies, and looking like they had nothing else to do in the whole world but waddle pregnant-like around the city eating ice cream and shopping for baby clothes.

(an aside: there are also an ABSURD amount of baby paraphernalia stores for a 1-child-per-family country).

At first I thought I was simply seeing the wealthiest of the wealthy women in Chengdu.  The sort of women who don’t really work, whether they are currently knocked up or not.

Then I realized that there were simply too many pregnant ladies for all of these day-time gestating wanderers to be fabulously wealthy.

But then, why did I never see any of them working at the vegetable market or at the local WoWo (our version of 7/11)?  Why no professional maternity clothes for the more middle to upper class office workers?

I was stumped.  I couldn’t understand.  Where were all of the working pregnant women hiding?

Yesterday I shared my confusion with Chris and he solved the mystery for me.

“Oh yea, pregnant women don’t really work in China.  Once you start showing you’re basically on maternity leave.”

That was it.  The reason I didn’t see any working pregnant Chinese women is because there aren’t any.

Of course, there are probably lots of working pregnant women but my totally unscientific observations of the last four month leads me to believe that Chris is right.

I’ve got views on this subject (and I’m also wondering if women ever fake pregnancies just for the opportunity to walk around all day making poor fashion choices and eating delicious Chinese snacks).  But then again, as an American I don’t have the same sort of family-size limitations nor the stress and pressures that must go along with.  I can’t really make any judgement calls on this.

In any case, it’s food for thought and a (ok fine, not very) stunning revelation for the day.

And no, we are so very, very not pregnant, in case that’s where you thought I was going with this.

But if I ever start walking around in unflattering mumus dresses and eating ice cream sandwiches at noon, well then, I guess you’ll know.


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