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Breastfeeding rates in Hong Kong?

  1. #9
    yltam is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2003


    I would take any media or government report with a grain of salt.

    My personal experience with BF in HK has been mixed. The private health care that I received was great. I must have had more than a dozen of nurses, helpers, cleaners, mothers with experience helping me out when I had BF problems at the hospital. However, once I was back home then back to work, I was quite lost. The general public is not at all supportive for a BF mom. The maternity leave is pitiful compared to the 1 year that is now the norm in Canada! Most working moms that I know, wean once they go back to work due to the lack of support.

    Although the government has a policy to support BF, the infrastructure and public have a long way to go before more mothers can fulfill their desires to BF longer.

  2. #10
    ozmaofoz is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Houston, Tx

    Yes, the state of healthcare in general in The States is very poor. We had absolutely the best health insurance when my son was born, and I gave birth in one of the highest rated hospitals in the Medical Center in Houston (ie - one of the "rated" best in the country) and it was still up to me to seek out breastfeeding help. It was there, but I did actually have to go physically find it! My son was premature (35 weeks, big, healthy) and needed to be in NICU for a day. The nurse there refused to give him the colostrum I had pumped. I had to do it myself! I pretty much "had" to give him formula while in the hospital and supplemented the first four months before going totally breastfed because of allergies that my son developed. I eventually hired a lactation consultant out of pocket to successfully breastfeed.

    I'm in Tseun Kwan O and I've had some really positive experiences around breastfeeding here. All the new shopping centers here have several baby rooms, and the interesting mix of middle-class local women and Mainland immigrant women have all shown a positive face towards breastfeeding. There is always someone nursing their baby in the baby room at Citistore in Po Lam. I think things might be different on the Island.

    Formula companies in the States aggressively campaign and there are no laws or limits placed on them. I recieved free cans of formula (whether I wanted them or not) at my home (at least 10!), from the hospital (2 large cans, plus a dozen small premade bottles), and from my pediatrician (one can of hypoallergenic). The hospitals recieve free formula in exchange for distributing formula to new mothers, doctors recieve vacations and free dinners and free formula for recommending a specific brand, and formula companies get your address from chain stores when you do your baby registry (the custom in the States is to have a baby shower - a party where you get gifts - before the baby is born). It's all pretty much a free-for-all.

    You can see why I think Hong Kong is advanced when it comes to breastfeeding education! :)

    This has been a great discussion!

  3. #11
    Slee is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Hong Kong

    Graham, I too was very suprised by what I experienced in the wards. We went to the Tsan Yuk anti-natal classes and a whole session was dedicated to promoting and explaining breastfeeding. We were also all told that a lactation consultant would help us while in hospital. I couldn't believe it once I saw what the other mums were doing in hospital. They weren't even giving it a go! It's one thing not succeeding, but not even attempting to give even just a few days of colostrum dumbfounded me!

    As for offering a first-time mum support, I asked to hold my daughter as soon as she was born and dried off so that she could latch on during the first half hour - a proven way of getting breastfeeding off to a good start. The midwife said 'no'. Luckily my OB was there and said something to the midwife in Cantonese, who then said 'Oh, OK then, but only quickly'. The labour and birth had gone fine, my baby's APGARs were 9 and 10 so there was no reason not to! Very strange.

    It was a struggle trying to get things going on my own in a crowded room surrounded by noise and having a little old lady wave bottles through the curtain every few hours wasn't at all encouraging! Finally, I never saw the famous but elusive lactation consultant and as there was no one else that I could see breastfeeding I don't know where she was!

  4. #12
    Joyce is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Hong Kong

    It seems that we all have varying experiences of wards and b/f. For me personally, I found the nurses at Queen Mary very supportive and that the Lactation Consultant was excellent.

    I must admit that b/f facilities in Hong Kong could definitely be improved. I managed to b/f for 11 months but had to be rather creative when it came to looking for places to feed my baby when we were out!

  5. #13
    HKFooey is offline Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Stanley, Hong Kong

    My son is now 10 mths and I am very pleased to say has never tasted formula even though I went back to work when he was 15 weeks. I still express three times per day at work which is a bit of a bind but I would not have it any other way.

    I am very lucky to be able to say that I have had no bad experiences with breastfeeding in HK. I am reasonably discrete but I feed my son wherever and whenever I need to. One of my favourite places these days is Pacific Coffee.

    Nobody has ever given me any indication that they have any problem with me feeding my son.

    I realise that I have been fortunate and I try and encourage other mums as best I can. I also think it is important for breastfeeding mothers to be discrete but not to hide away. It is good for the general public to see that people breastfeed.

    I also think that it is good that the Government has been proactive. I feel that even if the statistics are slightly biased it might help people to realise that breastfeeding is a viable option and more and more people are doing it.

  6. #14
    LLL_Sarah is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Hong Kong

    August 1st to 7th is World Breastfeeding Week. Traditionally the Baby Friendly Hospital Imitative in Hong Kong (BFHIHKA) publishes their hospital survey results this week. Last Saturday they held a press conference and the numbers they published were:

    61.1 % of new mothers are breastfeeding when they leave hospital. This figure includes mothers who are supplementing with water and /or formula as well as breastfeeding.
    (In Hong Kong mothers usually leave hospital between 2 days and 7 days after the birth.)

    36% were exclusively breastfeeding when they left hospital. (Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk, from his or her mother or expressed breast milk, and no other foods or drinks with the exception of drops or syrups consisting of vitamins, mineral supplements, or medicines.)

    Figures were also given from the Department of Health’s survey:

    66.6% - ever breastfeed – a new mother is included in this even if she only put the baby to the breast once.

    Among these 12.4% continued to exclusively breastfeed for over 4 months. (That is 8.26% of all new mothers.)

    The main reasons for stopping are:

    “not having enough milk” = 37%

    “back to work” = 26%

    I started breastfeeding in Hong Kong over 17 years ago. The attitude of both the general public and the medical staff has greatly improved in this time. Although there is still work to be done the change over the last 15 years is remarkable.

    One problem that the government is currently trying to address is that often mothers think that they have no milk during the first days until the milk has “come in”. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

    New mothers have colostrum from before the baby is born until the transitional milk comes (usually around day 4 or 5). The mature milk comes around the 2-week mark. Colostrum, also called the Golden Fluid, is highly treasured for its nutritional and protective properties. Its unique texture and small volume is designed to coat the baby’s delicate digestive system with antibodies. Therefore, babies require frequent nursings to obtain the much-needed small quantity of colostrums.


  7. #15
    jane01 is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Hong Kong

    Wow Sarah - you are a fountain of information, thank you.

    If I understand your figures correctly, 33% of HK women have never breastfed, not once, not even given it a try. So therefore, "going back to work" and "not enough milk" aren't really the reason why they aren't doing it, even for (as you point out) the important colostrum.

    I'm really curious why a mother wouldn't at least try it. OK, if it doesn't work for you and your baby, fair enough. If you have to go back to work in 6 weeks, good on you for doing it for 6 weeks (totally understand not wanting to pump in the toilets which is the only option in most workplaces). But to not try at all, that seems a bit strange to me.

    I would imagine that some women would have medical problems, for example from a difficult birth, but surely this would be a very small percentage?

    I agree that HK is progressing well. I'm just curious to understand why someone wouldn't try at all?

  8. #16
    hkgirl is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    I gave birth at Queen Elizabeth and the nurses were very helpful right after the birth to help my baby latch on. Also, a lactation specialist came to my bed for personal help when I needed it. I guess it depends on the hospital and who is working at the time. I have heard that the local hospitals promote breastfeeding more than the private. I assume that is because many woman going to the private will be returning to work soon and pumping during the day is a very big commitment.

    I have found that breastfeeding in Hong Kong has been a little uncomfortable. I've received many dirty looks from people even though I'm totally covered up with a blanket and there are very few places with couches/sofas to nurse on. During our time in Canada and the US this summer I had the opposite reaction. Many woman approached me to say how glad they were to see young mothers nursing and how it's so wonderful for bonding etc.

    Breastfeeding is painful to start and doesn't seem to get into a regular routine for a few months so I can understand why some women quit, but I'm glad I continued as it's the most relaxing way to bond with your baby, not to mention the benefits to baby and mom's health and your bank account!

    Anyway, the 10% figure sounds more accurate than 60% to me and I agree that statistics are very often skewed and should not be trusted.

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