Hong Kong lacks adequate facilities and support for breastfeeding, poll finds

Survey also finds an overwhelming 87 per cent of respondents support breastfeeding

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 April, 2017, 7:10pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 1:00pm

Over 95 per cent of Hongkongers believe existing facilities for breastfeeding in public places are inadequate, while more than half of those polled said their companies did not have policies that supported nursing, a survey has found.

The arm of the Federation of Trade Unions focusing on women’s issues conducted the poll between December last year and January this year. It received 624 replies through its unions, social media platforms and several maternal and child health clinics.

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Around two-thirds of the respondents were women. Interviewees spanned different age groups.

In the poll, 96 per cent thought public facilities for breastfeeding were inadequate.

Some people might say we can feed our child in the restroom, but do you eat and drink there?
Mabel Tam Mei-po, district councillor

A total of 51 per cent of respondents said their companies did not have policies and measures that supported nursing, such as furnishing breastfeeding rooms and official time off for them to nurse or pump milk.

The lack of government and organisational support for breastfeeding came despite the survey’s other findings that an overwhelming 87 per cent of respondents supported breastfeeding and 79 per cent thought time off for nursing and pumping milk should be granted during working hours.

Wong Tai Sin district councillor Mabel Tam Mei-po – a mother of a three-year-old child and four-month-old infant – said she opted to feed her baby formula when not at home as she found it difficult to find a venue with breastfeeding facilities.

“By the time you find such a facility, your baby could be very hungry. It is quite inconvenient,” she said.

Tam added she did not consider using a nursing cloth as she was worried about people using their smartphones to snap photos of her.

She lamented that these circumstances resulted in her feeling she could not give her children the best.

“Some people might say we can feed our child in the restroom, but do you eat and drink there?” she asked. “Why would you then expect a child to feed there?”

The union called on the government to introduce breastfeeding-friendly policies to reduce pressure on working parents, such as by allocating rooms facilitating breastfeeding in new buildings, allowing mothers with newborns under the age of one to have two slots of 30 minutes to collect milk, and extending maternity leave from the current 10 weeks to 14 weeks.