A few years ago, a five-star hotel in Hong Kong asked a woman to breastfeed in the bathroom. Mothers responded by picketing the hotel and the battle of the breast was briefly waged in public.

Yet even with all the horrors of melamine-tainted mainland milk formula and, recently, a scare over possible botulism in certain baby products from New Zealand, Hong Kong is still squeamish about breastfeeding.

One mother says she was told, at a Hong Kong swimming pool, that she had to go to a toilet to feed her three-week-old. "It's a rule," said the pool guard, citing a notice that said, "No food or drink allowed in the pool area."

Another local mother tells me that on one occasion, when she was feeding her daughter in a hotel café - under a breastfeeding cover - a waiter asked her to stop or move to the toilets as she was upsetting other customers. As it was, nobody could see what she was doing without severe neck-craning, because she was sitting on a corner sofa with her back to most of the room. She inquired as to whether the waiter would eat his own lunch in the toilets.

Such tales are plentiful but there seems something ironic about another anecdote involving a mother who suddenly found that her breastfeeding presented a busload of mainland tourists with a photo opportunity.

Objections to the practice make even less sense when you consider that we all prefer quiet children to noisy ones. The wait for formula to be heated can raise the roof.

And as for the benefits to women, let's defer to the actress Helena Bonham Carter, who said: "It gives me boobs and it takes my thighs away. It's sort of like natural liposuction. I'd carry on breastfeeding for the rest of my life if I could."