Whether you consider breastfeeding for just a few weeks or more than a year, arming yourself with knowledge and preparation is key to success. Here are the most helpful resources for expecting and new mothers in Hong Kong.
One of the main reasons moms in Hong Kong stop breastfeeding is a lack of understanding of some of the challenges they will face in the first few weeks. It's understandably difficult for a lot of pregnant women to look beyond the surreal experience of childbirth to what might lay ahead. Most women know that breast is 'best' and 'natural' but having a basic understanding of how it works helps set expectations and identify when you may need help.
Additional helpful prenatal resources include:
The few days in the hospital after your baby is born is the time to take advantage of all the resources at hand and ask as many questions as you can.
Public hospitals in Hong Kong, for the most part, encourage breastfeeding. You can see the status of each hospital with an obstetric ward's certification to obtain Baby-Friendly Hospital designation here.
In reality, the nurses and midwives are trained in breastfeeding assistance but are busy and often one-to-one assistance is difficult to access. This is why it's important to make your wishes very clear. Most obstetric wards offer specific classes 2-5 times per day. Nurses or midwives will watch mothers breastfeed and address any questions and concerns that may arise.
All private hospitals with obstetric wards in Hong Kong have either midwives or nurses with extensive lactation experience on-staff. Depending on the hospital, they may not visit you automatically so make sure to ask for a visit.
Getting through the first few weeks is key to achieving your goals. Address any problems as they arise - do not wait! New mothers are often giving milk 8-12 times in 24 hours so any small problem can quickly escalate if it's not addressed. Whether you gave birth in a private or public hospital, you can call one of the numerous breastfeeding helplines for assistance. All without leaving your home.
Of course, not every problem can be fixed over the phone. Unlike certain countries, you will not receive at-home post-partum visits from a midwife or nurse in the first few postpartum weeks - unless you hire one privately.
Women who gave birth in a public hospital can access comprehensive breastfeeding assistance at their local Maternal and Child Health Centres.
Women who have given birth in a private hospital can access post-natal services either through their hospital or through private midwife and lactation consultant services. There are many such services available in Hong Kong that include breastfeeding advice. See Healthy Matters' list of lactation consultants and midwives.
It can really add to your confidence and freedom as a new mother to be able to breastfeed in public. Breast milk is the ultimate in fast food: convenient, portable and free!
Places to feed your baby:
Going back to work as a new mother is daunting enough - add in the prospect of needing to pump breast milk multiple times throughout the day and many women decide not to continue. To set yourself up to breastfeed (whether exclusively or with supplementary formula), it's important to speak to your employer before your maternity leave to describe the importance of your choice and your desire to breastfeed after you return to work. The Family Health Service has resources for both employers to set up a breastfeeding-friendly workplace and employees for combining working and breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding policy is ahead of social stigma. It is a woman's right to breastfeed in public and the Hong Kong law protects those rights. Currently, complaints are heard under the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance but this doesn't explicitly cover breastfeeding women. A breastfeeding anti-discrimination bill is currently under consideration by the Legislative Council.
If you encounter discrimination while feeding your baby in public, the Hong Kong Breastfeeding Association suggests staying calm, stating your case to breastfeed and, if applicable, follow up with a letter of complaint.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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