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Selamat Datang and Welcome to the Postpartum Wellness Show!

and I’m Dr Kristal Lau, your host and postpartum wellness consultant

In this show, I share insights and knowledge around approaching your postpartum journey through culture, traditions, and modern postpartum care using my combined experiences as a physician with scientific and public health background, an author, a foreign-born US military spouse, and a mom of 2.

Join me in this exploration of motherhood, wellness, and heritage where you will learn how to thrive in your postpartum journey and beyond.

Happy New Year, everyone! Happy 2024. Welcome back to the Postpartum Wellness Show. I am very excited to have the first episode of the year be something that is truly about the exploration of motherhood, heritage, and wellness.

Today I'm going to be talking to you about the year of the dragon, which starts on February 10th next month, and it will last until January 28th in 2025.

The effect of the Year of the Dragon in many East Asian countries, cultures, and populations, especially those of Chinese descent, is huge to the point where many East Asian countries can see in their population census measurement that there is an actual baby boom or a spike in birth rate during the year of the dragon.

So I'll be sharing with you a few articles today to showcase how big the Year of the Dragon is. I'll also talk a little bit about the significance of this Chinese Zodiac sign. And then we're going to dive into the meaty discussion on how this cultural belief affects mom and their families as well as health providers, professionals, and businesses.

For those of you listening on the podcast, I'm gonna be reading out the titles and the excerpts from the article. So don't worry, you're not missing out on anything.

For those of you watching on YouTube, I'm gonna share the screen with you, and of course, I will include all the links in the show notes, the YouTube video description, and also on the blog post itself.

As we go through the next few articles, you're gonna see why a lot of East Asian families want to have a dragon baby or a dragon child.

So first I wanna start with what is the year of the dragon? The article I've got here is from China Highlights. They're actually a travel company, but I think what they wrote here is good enough for us to satisfy our curiosity because after all they're doing these articles as part of showcasing the culture of China.

One of the things that China Highlight wrote in this post is, 'The dragon symbolizes power, nobleness honor, luck, and success.' In traditional Chinese culture, the dragon is a supernatural being with no parallel for talent and excellence. I mean, how powerful is that statement, and how amazing would it be to be associated with that Zodiac sign?

One thing to note though, in the Chinese zodiac, they've got 12 animals. So every 12 years, your sign will come around. But at the same time, there are five elements to each of the sign. So this year, in 2024, it'll be the year of the wood dragon. My year in 1988, I was born in the year of the Earth Dragon. And then you've got fire, water, and gold.

There are some comics in this China Highlights article that if you're interested to find out more about the different types of dragons, please feel free to explore that.

And here's more from China Highlights about the dragon. "Among the Chinese Zodiac animals, the dragon is the sole imaginary animal." That's true. All the other animals are actually real animals that you can find on Earth. "The Chinese dragon is the most vital and powerful beast in the Chinese Zodiac. In ancient times, people thought that dragons were best suited to be leaders of the world with their character traits of dominance and ambition."

This is one of the reasons why the dragon is associated with the Chinese emperor. And just like many ancient civilizations, a lot of their leaders are associated with the highest mythical, powerful being, which is one way of them showing that they are there to be able to lead the rest of the people.

Now let's hop to another article that will further show you why a lot of East Asian parents really want dragon babies.

Now this is a Medium blog post by what looks like a Feng Shui master called Steven Chen. The title is, 'Is 2024 A Good Year to Have a Baby?' and this is how he describes the dragon in his blog post. The subtitle first says, 'The rare and auspicious wood dragon Year, and its impact.' I mean, rare and auspicious already tells you, wow, I would love to be born under this sign.

"The dragon is the most revered and majestic animal in Chinese mythology and culture. It symbolizes power, nobility, honor, luck, and success. The dragon is also associated with the emperor and the celestial realm. The dragon is the only imaginary animal among 12 Zodiac signs, which shows its uniqueness and creativity. The dragon is a leader and a visionary who can achieve great things with its courage, intelligence, and charisma."

I mean, come on guys. You know, after reading all of that and listening to all of that, how amazing would it be as a parent to say that, wow, I have a dragon baby. To have a baby born under this sign. And a child who has a very high potential to exhibit these traits of power, of leadership, and most important of all to many East Asian and especially Chinese families, is to literally be the embodiment of luck, of auspiciousness and prosperity.

And coming from my personal experience of being a dragon baby myself, I was born in 1988, I grew up with the notion that I was somehow more special than the others. Not gonna lie, but at the same time, I did feel a lot of pressure of needing to meet those expectations. Like I really gotta be exceptional. You know, because I'm a dragon baby. I'm a dragon kid. I better be exceptional.

Otherwise, what does that say about me? I'm a failed dragon? That's not really a nice title to have. At the same time, I could tell that my mom was really proud of having a dragon kid because I was the only one on both sides of the family.

And as I grew up, I noticed as well in other Chinese families in Malaysia, among my group of friends and my peers, that there was definitely a sense of pride and something a bit high and mighty about families and parents who have Dragon kids.

Yet at the same time though, this baby boom does have some effects that may not always be desirable, and you may not see it in the beginning.

Let's talk about that in a little bit because I wanna share with you some numbers about birth rates related to the year of the dragon. This will show you that cultural beliefs can have effects on your economy, on your infrastructure, and affect your population census which is no joke. It's a huge thing.

This next article is from BBC World Asia, and it's actually written in 2012. It's titled 'Enter the Dragons, A Baby Boom for Chinese across Asia.' So they're talking about Chinese diaspora all across the Asian continent.

I wanna share with you a couple of lines that they wrote here. So those of you watching on YouTube, bear with me as I'm reading this out. I'm really doing this for those who are listening on the podcast. So if you wanna skip ahead after you've read this part, please go ahead. So for those of you listening, here we go.

"In previous dragon years, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and countries such as Singapore with a strong Chinese diaspora have experienced baby booms. In 2000, Hong Kong saw more than a 5% rise in the number of births according to their official data. And in China, a state news agency Xinhua reported that China was anticipating a 5% increase in the number of babies. And a Bloomberg report estimated that sales of nappies in China will grow about 17% in 2012."

Now, that is huge when you're talking about a population in China that has got billions of people.

This other article from Al Jazeera, also from 2012, the title 'Year of the Dragon roars into Asia.' There's a subtitle for Baby Boom. So in 2012, hospitals across China and in Chinese communities are bracing for a baby boom as couples try to have a child this year. In Singapore, the prime Minister at the time, Lee Hsien Loong, took advantage of the dragon to call on the country's residents to boost a stubbornly low birth rate.

And during that time in 2012, nannies in Beijing and Tianjin were charging more for their services with beds in the capital's maternity hospital all booked up until August of the year. And this article was written in January, 2012.

so you can already see that industries in East Asia know that the baby boom will happen in the year of the dragon and they are absolutely gearing up for it. But whether governments and authorities in all of these East Asian nations are adequately responding to and preparing for this spike in birth rate, well that really depends.

Now, this is a good place to pause and take in all the information that I've just thrown at you to do a little activity together where we can use all of that information and think about the effects of such a baby boom.

To make this easy, let's just do this activity between you and myself. Imagine that we're living in the same neighborhood and all of a sudden this year, wow, so many of our neighbors are having babies.

And guess what? Congratulations. You're having a newborn too. You're gonna have a dragon baby. So now comes the time for you to go and find your doctor and get all of the planning done for you to have your baby and plan for your postpartum recovery.

but Wait a minute. So many people in the neighborhood having babies, is there gonna be enough beds in a hospital for you when it's time for your dragon baby to come? And what about midwives? Are there enough of them to help you if you decide to have a home birth? Because you know so many people in the neighborhood are gonna have babies too.

And doulas, confinement nannies. Are there enough to provide to meet the demands in the neighborhood? And what about confinement centers? Those postnatal retreat stays? Are they gonna have enough beds?

And then when you think about what you need when baby gets here, Are all the shops around you going to anticipate this baby boom and make sure they have all the things that all of the parents with newborns are gonna be able to get.

And now because there's such an increase in demand within your neighborhood for birthing, postpartum, and baby products and services, are the prices going to increase? Because businesses want to capitalize on that.

And that's just the tip of the baby boom effect.

When we think longer term, when all these dragon babies start entering their toddlerhood, parents are going back to work, they're starting to want daycare, babysitting. there will always be this massive increase in population size for the dragon year that carries on each year.

That carries through daycare, preschool, kindergarten, it goes into primary school, secondary school, you know, high school, elementary if you would in the US. So will your neighborhood have enough schools and kindergartens for when the Dragon babies are now Dragon Toddlers and Dragon preschoolers?

Will there be enough teachers? How early do you have to get on the waiting list to make sure that your dragon child can now go to school?

In this next article from the National Polls, and this is a Canadian online portal. The title is 'Many Chinese Believe Dragon Babies are destined for greatness, but baby booms have unintended consequences.' And this article was written in 2021.

The part that I wanna share with you Is What A Demographer Daniel Goodkin wrote for this article. "His research shows that roughly 25% more babies were born among the Chinese populations of Singapore and Malaysia during the 1988 year of the dragon compared with the previous year. In response, Singapore, three quarters of which is ethnically Chinese, opened nine new primary schools."

Schools, not just new classrooms in existing schools, but they built nine new schools just to account and accommodate for 4,000 of these dragon babies and get this. The article also says, but the number of extra children born that year was closer to 9,000. In Singapore alone.

This is a good spot to touch on some topics for those of you listening who are health providers, businesses, and professionals whose target audience and target customers are moms and families and children.

This baby boom in the year of the dragon will be felt not just in 2024 itself because all of these babies are gonna become toddlers next year in 2025, and then they're going to get to preschool age and so on, so forth. So the business opportunities are going to be huge depending on what you're selling and providing and of course, depending on which country you're in as well.

but one thing that is absolutely certain is if government infrastructures and policies are not able to support the families that are part of this baby boom, businesses, the market will respond because the opportunity is there. And these parents will engage with businesses because they want the best for their children.

Going back to the beginning when I talked about the significance of the dragon zodiac sign and the dragon creature itself, knowing that I have a dragon child, I will want to put even more into the child because they are perceived as extra special due to their zodiac sign.

I'm going to share two articles with you that will reflect how the market is responding to the Dragon baby boom. The first one is from the Star. This is a news portal from Malaysia. The title is 'Getting Wed to Get Little Dragons.' this was published in November of last year, 2023, with a picture showing couples at a mass wedding ceremony in Penang.

So Penang is a state in Malaysia where the majority of the population are Chinese. so yes, the belief and want for a Dragon baby definitely runs deep and strong. And an interesting thing highlighted in this article was that there's been a surge in marriage bookings in 2023. The Penang Wedding Professionals Association Co-founder Low Chin Siang, he said that more people are getting married now, if they plan on having a dragon baby, there won't be enough time if they tie the knot next year, i.e., in 2024.

He saw a higher number of Chinese weddings, especially during the second half of 2023. And having more wedding ceremonies means that a lot of industries and businesses associated with weddings are gonna see a rise in their business as well.

so much so that an online matrimonial website also wrote an article about the baby dragon in 2024. This blog post by courtly titled 'Couples Rush to Marry, to have Baby Dragons in 2024, embracing Chinese Zodiac traditions.'

This blog post by courtly, titled 'Couples Rush to Marry, to have Baby Dragons in 2024, embracing Chinese Zodiac traditions,' is written in November 2023. It goes on to describe what the Zodiac sign means, and right at the end, they tell you to get married in 24 hours with courtly for a swift marriage. Consider the convenience of online matrimony with platforms like courtly.

Now, this final article that I'll be sharing with you will tie into the things that I'm doing in confinement care, postpartum care, and specifically in the childbirth recovery stage where in East Asia, you've got the confinement centers, and in the west, you've got the postnatal retreat stays.

This is an article from Singapore from the online portal called Mothership. The title is 'Up to 6,000 Singapore Dollars A Night. Luxurious Confinement Center Opens in Sentosa Hotel.'

This was written in November 2023 to announce the opening of a luxury resort-style confinement center called Bella Villa Maternity and Baby Care (not Center, sorry!). This is a brand out of China, and they specialize in luxury-level confinement stays or postnatal retreats.

They officially launched on October 17, last year, 2023, and get this, packages at Bella Villa for 28 days up to about 56 days. The price range is from 68,800 Singapore dollars for 28 days up to 328,000 Singapore dollars for up to 56 days.

To give you some context, the Singapore dollar and the American dollar are kind of close. The Singapore currency is about three and a half times stronger than the Malaysian currency, last I checked. I don't know what it is right now.

And to simplify that further, 6,000 Singapore dollars a night is about 4,000 US dollars a night. Imagine paying that amount a night for your postpartum recovery.

But why? Why did this China company decide to open its first international branch as well, specifically in Singapore? Number one, from all the things that I told you earlier, Singapore is predominantly Chinese population. Number two, their currency is strong. Number three, what are they preparing for? Year of the dragon baby boom.

By opening their branch in October, there is no doubt that they are preparing to take all of the bookings for the entire 2024. The people have spending power. Singaporeans will absolutely spend on luxury items and things that they really perceive as high value.

And capitalizing on the cultural belief and the perception that a dragon baby is even more precious, which means the mother who has given birth to this prosperous, noble, and powerful child, she should deserve the best care after producing such an heir.

Do I sound dramatic? Why yes, because the belief does run that deep. So yes, Saint Bella, Bella Villa, absolutely brilliant business move doing this.

And finally, for my mummies and family members who are listening, why is all of this information so important for you?

Number one, you may be a modern mom and a modern family, but there's a chance that your in-laws are gonna be traditional. So it doesn't matter whether you believe in these things or not, they're gonna believe in these things, and they will likely wanna get involved in your postpartum journey because you have borne them a dragon grandchild.

Number two, understanding how businesses could react to this baby boom. You can then plan ahead of time, anticipate sales. Anticipate price rises, especially if you are in East Asia itself. Plan ahead to get the good deals or find sales or even better engage in buy and swap groups or good quality thrift stores so that you can get things without paying for overpriced items and services.

Number three, understand that the effect of this baby boom could potentially affect your child down the road. So daycare, kindergarten, schools, all of these things. You may wanna go ahead and start getting on waitlist early so that when the time comes, you know your child will have a spot at school.

At the same time, start planning for your confinement early. If you really wanna go down the route of a confinement center, look for those around your area and get the booking in early so that one, you get a good rate. Number two, you definitely have a spot as well.

On top of that, you might wanna consider getting earlier bookings so that you have the doula that you want, you have the confinement nanny that you want.

But if you prefer to do confinement at home by yourself, with your loved ones, then grab my book Postpartum 30 with a three zero.

In the book, I walk you through how to create a confinement plan, how to prepare your home for confinement, and how to carry out the confinement practice according to a confinement style that suits your needs and circumstances.

Plus, if you need more help after that, come to me with whatever you've got, and we'll work something out for you. Because I also do confinement and postpartum coaching for mommies and their families.

I am truly, truly excited for this year of the Dragon, not just because it's my year, but there's been so much research that has come out in 2023 and 2022 that is really paving the way for a big change in postpartum care and maternal wellness.

And because it takes time for policies, guidelines, and medical systems to change, I have no doubt that the market will respond. And all these businesses and services, we're gonna be here to listen to what you mummies and your families really want in your postpartum experience

Happy New Year everyone! Happy 2024!

Welcome back to the Postpartum Wellness Show. I am very excited to have the first episode of the year be something that is truly about the exploration of motherhood, heritage, and wellness.

Today, we're going to delve into the "Year of the Dragon" and its significant impact on motherhood, cultures, and populations, especially those of Chinese descent.

Let's uncover the allure, beliefs, and effects associated with this Chinese Zodiac sign.

What is the Year of the Dragon? What's so special about this Zodiac sign?

The Year of the Dragon starts on February 10th, 2024 and will last until January 28th, 2025. The Dragon holds immense importance and symbolism in many East Asian cultures as it is the only mythical creature out of the 12 animals in the Eastern zodiac. 

It symbolizes power, nobility, honor, luck, and success. It is considered the most vital and powerful beast, embodying leadership and ambition which is why the Dragon was always associated with Chinese Emperors.

Were you born in the Year of the Dragon? Is your birth year in:

  • January 27, 1952 - February 13, 1953 (Water Dragon)
  • February 13, 1964 - February 1, 1965 (Wood Dragon)
  • January 31, 1976 - February 17, 1977 (Fire Dragon)
  • February 17, 1988 - February 5, 1989 (Earth Dragon) This is me!
  • February 5, 2000 - January 23, 2001 (Gold Dragon)
  • January 23, 2012 - February 9, 2013 (Water Dragon)
  • February 10, 2024 - January 28, 2025 (Wood Dragon) Hello, new Dragon babies!

The Desire for Dragon Babies:

Many East Asian families, especially those of Chinese descent, have a deep desire to have children born in the Year of the Dragon. Parents perceive their dragon babies as an embodiment of the exceptional qualities of the Dragon.

Having a dragon child can give families a sense of pride but Dragon kids may end up bearing the pressure of meeting high expectations. I know this because I'm a Dragon baby myself! 1988. The effects of this cultural belief also extend beyond the family, as the phenomenon of the dragon baby boom shows.

Effects of the Dragon Baby Boom:

The baby boom phenomenon during the Year of the Dragon has significant effects on various aspects of society. Census data reveals a spike in birth rates during these years in many East Asian countries. China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other regions with strong Chinese diaspora have experienced noticeable increases in the number of births during dragon years.

  • For instance, Hong Kong witnessed a 5% rise in the number of births in 2000, and China reported anticipating a 5% increase in the number of babies in 2012.
  • Singapore and Malaysia saw 25% more babies born to Chinese parents in 1988 compared to the previous year.

The baby boom not only impacts demographics but also influences various industries and services. Businesses catering to mothers, families, and children have historically geared up for increased demand during the Year of the Dragon.

  • In 2012, nannies in Beijing and Tianjin, China, increased their prices.
  • In the second half of 2023, Penang, Malaysia saw a rise in weddings and bookings of wedding-related services such as photography and videography.

Hospitals, maternity centers, midwives, doulas, and confinement centers have been affected by the Dragon baby boom. This increased birth rate affects the availability of resources, such as hospital beds, childcare facilities, and schools.

  • Before Jan 2012, Beijing's maternity hospital was booked up till August 2012.
  • At the beginning of 2012, it was reported that there was an influx of expectant mothers from China into Hong Kong. They were aiming to give birth in Hong Kong so that their babies could get the coveted Hong Kong passport.
  • Singapore built nine new schools (SCHOOLS, not just new classrooms!) to accommodate up to 4,000 Dragon babies from 1988.

Preparing for the Dragon Baby Boom:

If you're expecting a Dragon baby this year, you may need to plan ahead and anticipate the effects of the dragon baby boom on your lives. Here's some quick bullet points of things you can expect and prepare for:

  • Manage your expectations regarding traditional beliefs & behaviours from your Asian elders: you and your family may be modern but your parents and/or parents-in-law may stick to their beliefs and ways. Expect them to want to be more involved in your postpartum recovery and your baby's life!
  • Anticipate business moves during the Dragon baby boom: Shop smart! Thrift and swap instead of buying new for some items. Look out for sales and buy during that time to avoid paying higher prices.
  • Plan your birthing, postpartum, and confinement care early: Nearby hospitals may put a cap on their patient list to manage the increased demand for birthing services, so check out your favourite OBGYN clinics early and get on their maternity ward list as soon as you can. Your favourite places may be booked out earlier than expected, so get in on their waiting list early!
  • Plan to get your baby into daycare, babysitter, and school waiting lists earlier than expected: Expect that your favourite support persons may be busier than usual. Have extra people on your list so you have backup. Get into school waiting lists as early as you can.

Business Opportunities and Market Response:

The dragon baby boom presents immense business opportunities for those serving and selling to moms, families, and children. The market has always responded to the demand and new businesses have also emerged to cater to specific needs during this time.

A luxury confinement care center from China (Bella Villa Maternity and Baby Care) opened its first international branch in Singapore in October 2023. There is no doubt that they're anticipating the Dragon baby boom in 2024. And it makes sense to launch in Singapore because:

  • Singapore's population is predominantly Chinese with high spending power.
  • The postpartum confinement care business model is a proven profitable business in the region.

For context on how high end this new confinement care center is, they charge:

  • Up to SGD 6,000 per night (about USD 4,500 per night)
  • For a 28-Day stay = SGD 68,800 = about USD 51,700
  • For a 56-Day stay = SGD 328,800 = about USD 247,200

Final Thoughts:

As we eagerly embrace the Year of the Dragon, understanding its significance in motherhood, heritage, and wellness becomes essential. Cultural beliefs such as this desire for a Dragon baby are unlikely to go away anytime soon. And businesses will respond to the needs of mothers and families if they cannot be met by existing services.

So, it's best we all prepare for it when the Dragon comes around!

DIY Your Confinement Month!

Dragon baby mamas, if you prefer to plan, prepare, and carry out your confinement practice at home with your loved ones get my book 'Postpartum 30' to guide you!

Once you've drafted your confinement plan and find that you need more help, hop on a free 30-minute call with me and we'll do a quick confinement planning session together.

For those who have purchased my book, please email me (kristallau@bridgesinhealth.com) to get access to my private Facebook group dedicated to clients and readers.

I'm re-starting monthly discussions and highlights in that group to supplement your confinement and postpartum experiences.

Happy Year of the Dragon!

Like what you read, heard, and watched and want more?

Start your confinement and postpartum planning with a FREE 30-minute Discovery call! 

Prefer video? Watch this episode below!

Check Out The Confinement Practice Mini-Series (5 Episodes and Posts)

About the Author

Physician and Postpartum Wellness Consultant. Author of 'Postpartum 30'. International Speaker. Mother of 2 girls and U.S. military spouse.

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