Breastfeeding frenzy raises awareness
Hundreds of new mothers across the mainland participated in breastfeeding flash mobs to mark World Breastfeeding Week, which ends today.
The activities were held in more than 10 cities at the weekend, with an aim of raising what the organisers said was poor public awareness about breastfeeding.
Chinanews.com reported that about 10 to 30 mothers gathered to feed their babies at public areas in Beijing, Nanjing , Wuhan , Chongqing , Chengdu , Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Xian, Liuzhou and Zhongshan. The sessions lasted about 10 minutes.
A Sina microblog account related to tourism in Xiamen , Fujian , also showed women participating there.
One woman in Nanjing told the news portal that since there were no baby-care facilities in most public places, she had to overcome her embarrassment to breastfeed in public.
'My baby wants to eat, but I can't find a place to feed him,' she said. 'Sometimes I use a big scarf [to conceal the feeding] and sit in a place with few people passing by. But in this hot season, both me and my baby sweat, because of the scarf.'
Mothers returning from maternity leave are entitled under the law to an hour off during their shifts to breastfeed until their babies are one year old. But employers are not bound to provide facilities.
Helen Wu, who works for a foreign consulting firm in Pudong district, Shanghai, said she goes to the toilet two to three times a day to pump milk for her nine-month-old daughter.
'My company doesn't set up a special room,' she said. 'The toilet stinks, but I have no other option.'
On Wednesday, the start of World Breastfeeding Week, the Ministry of Health held a press conference in Beijing with representatives present from the World Health Organisation and other international bodies.
Zhang Deying , from the ministry's department of welfare for women and children, said breastfeeding rates in some regions were low due to a lack of knowledge and acceptance.
The WHO recommends that all children under six months be fed only with breast milk.