Mothers call for feeding law

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 November, 2007, 12:00am

Breastfeeding mothers yesterday revealed some of the problems they face, ahead of the launch today of a campaign for a law requiring proper facilities for nursing and feeding in public places.

One mother told of having to sit on the rim of a toilet for the disabled in order to feed her baby in a department store.

Another said she searched in vain for an hour for somewhere to feed her child in the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, only to end up in a toilet.

A third told of having to feed in a toilet at a theme park.

Cherron Ho Wing-yee said: 'The baby nursery room in the Sogo department store was just a baby changing table in the female toilet. After making a further request to the staff, they opened the toilet for the disabled for me. I had to sit on the edge of the toilet bowl to feed my child.'

She added: 'I was uncomfortable. I expected a big department store like that would have proper facilities.'

Miu Tang Miu-chi had to feed her son in a toilet at Ocean Park.

'There was only a baby changing table and it was embarrassing,' she told a press conference called to publicise the campaign by the Hong Kong Breastfeeding Mothers' Association.

Nora Yick Sau-ying said she spent an hour searching the Convention and Exhibition Centre for a clean place to feed her daughter, but once again could only find a toilet.

'I didn't want my child to dine in a toilet, but I had no choice,' she said.

A spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said: 'Facilities are made available in some large shopping malls, department stores, hotels and government premises according to need.

'We will explore the need for, and the feasibility of, setting up more places to breastfeed.'

Responding to Ms Ho's complaint, Sogo said it would consider providing facilities for nursing mothers.

Ocean Park said it would open its five first aid posts for the use of breastfeeding mothers.

The Convention and Exhibition Centre said it would provide a room for breastfeeding upon request.

All three mothers said they believed legislation would help ensure they had somewhere satisfactory to feed but believed educating the public was more important.

They said many Hongkongers found breastfeeding in public odd and considered a toilet the only place for it. When they did breastfeed in public, the experience was not always a happy one.

Men sometimes stared at their breasts. Ms Ho recalled that when she fed her child in a restaurant, a woman sitting behind her asked: 'How would milk-tea taste if it is mixed with human milk?'