Parents brave all to deliver dragon baby boys

By Thuy An   March 12, 2024 | 05:00 am PT
Under intense pressure to give birth to a boy during the Year of the Dragon, some Vietnamese parents are turning to remedies cloaked in the promise of ensuring a male heir, even at the risk of their health and safety.

As the eldest son in his family, Nam, 35, has always tangled himself with a belief that he must have a son to carry on the family's legacy.

And with this year's zodiac being a dragon, Nam and his wife, Huong, have even more reasons to desire that baby boy.

Through a social media group offering advice on having a baby boy in the Year of the Dragon, the couple met a seller promising a quick pregnancy with a son.

They were offered a package of various remedies costing over VND5 million (US$205), including oyster extract, sperm-enhancing drugs, and egg-nourishing supplements.

Additionally, the online seller introduced a product that would create an alkaline environment aiding faster sperm movement for conception. Explaining the challenge of slow-moving sperm or unstable vaginal pH leading to unsuccessful conception, the seller offered a solution costing between VND500,000 to VND1 million for a pack of eight tubes, said to be "safe for all skin types without causing irritation or side effects."

"I was completely convinced by the consultation," Huong said, sharing that both she and her husband are longing for a son and therefore, they could not help but try the remedies.

However, after three treatment cycles and various supplements, they still haven't received any good news.

The woman even developed symptoms of infection and had to go to Hanoi Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital for examination.

Lately, many "dragon baby hunt" groups have emerged on social media, attracting thousands of members.

Beyond natural methods, sellers offer many remedies with unclear origins and can still convince parents to buy them.

Minh, 30, was also advised to buy an alkaline environment creation kit.

As advised by the online seller, she must "inject the substance 30 minutes before intercourse for a 99% chance of having a boy."

However, an ultrasound in March revealed she's expecting a girl.

Phan Chi Thanh from the National Hospital of Obstetrics and Gynecology warns against blindly following extreme methods that harm health, like indiscriminately taking drugs, using products of unknown origin, or abusing supplements.

"Most victims of those scams are those who lack knowledge or cultural understanding, and are put under family pressure that leads to stress, making them more susceptible to psychological manipulation," he said.

The belief in the significance of having a child in the Year of the Dragon is deeply rooted in several Asian cultures, particularly in China and Vietnam. The dragon, a symbol of power, strength, and good fortune, is considered the most auspicious and noble of the 12 zodiac animals.

Consequently, children born in the Year of the Dragon are believed to inherit these admirable qualities, making them destined for success and leadership.

This cultural preference often leads to a noticeable increase in birth rates during dragon years. Many parents, hoping to give their children a head start in life, plan their pregnancies to align with this zodiac cycle.

Beyond the pressure to have a child in the dragon year, many families feel compelled to have a boy, leading to gender imbalance as well as economic and social pressures.

Vietnam's General Statistics Office reports a high gender imbalance at birth, with a ratio of 113.7 boys per 100 girls in 2022.

As Vietnam’s laws prohibit gender selection in any form, couples desiring to choose their child's sex often resort to expensive IVF or unscientific traditional remedies, unaware of potential dangers.

Nguyen Cong Dinh, Director of Hanoi Maternity Hospital, advises mothers to nourish themselves for a healthy pregnancy but warns against reckless use of unverified drugs like alkaline water injections, lubricants for male offspring, acupuncture, traditional medicines, or artificial insemination, which can harm health.

"Alkaline drugs or lubricants don't guarantee the desired child sex but merely facilitate intercourse, and couples should consider nutritional supplements but not compromise their health," Dinh said.

Women preparing for pregnancy should focus on a scientific diet, including multivitamins and folic acid, while men should avoid alcohol, tobacco, stimulants, and maintain exercise for better health, Dinh further advised, warning couples to absolutely avoid drugs of unknown origin, self-prescribed antibiotics, or prescription drugs to avoid wasting money and harming health.

"Don't stress over having a dragon year child for supposed better prospects and don't risk your well-being," he added.

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