China Elevator Stories

“Pregnant women can’t eat Chinese hawthorn”

The owner of a fruit shop in Shenzhen won’t sell me Chinese hawthorn.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


It’s April 2013. My husband and I go to the fruit shop. The combination of pregnancy and a recent rise in temperatures in Shenzhen brings about hot flashes for me. I’ve been craving melons for the last 2 weeks. We choose a melon, put it on the counter and I look around to see if there are any other fruits I feel like eating. I see Chinese hawthorn fruits (山楂) and put them on the counter as well. The cashier takes the melon, weighs it and registers the price, but then stops.

He tells me: “Pregnant women can’t eat Chinese hawthorn.”

I have eaten them before in my second trimester of pregnancy after my mother-in-law recommended them to me. I reply: “Really? I have eaten hawthorn fruits quite a few times during pregnancy.”
He confirms: “Yes, really, it’s not indicated for pregnant women. That’s what we say here in the south.”

pregnancy - Ruth Silbermayr

Seeing that he wouldn’t sell hawthorn fruits to us even if we insisted, we only buy the melon.

When my mother-in-law was pregnant with my husband more than 32 years ago, she did eat Chinese hawthorn fruits, is what she tells me. She says the sour taste really helped with her nausea during pregnancy. But when she recommended them to me, she said that I should be careful about eating them during the first trimester, when the possibility of having a miscarriage is the highest. According to her, it’s relatively safe to eat less than 3 Chinese hawthorn fruits a day after the first three months of pregnancy (but not during the first three months of pregnancy).

Back at home, I search the terms “hawthorn fruits” and “pregnancy”. I find articles saying that pregnant women should be careful with eating Chinese hawthorn (especially eating lots of them) on the Chinese internet. Why? According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese hawthorn invigorates blood circulation and might induce contractions in a pregnant woman, which could cause a miscarriage.

Just to be on the safe side, I stay away from Chinese hawthorn fruits for the rest of my pregnancy. After all, there are plenty of other fruits that are okay to eat during pregnancy.

Have you ever received similar advice?

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