Updated: 2013-02-06 07:49
By Wu Ni (China Daily)
Zhou Xinxin gives up a well-paid job so that she could continue to breastfeed her son. Photos provided to China Daily
Do you know where the nursing rooms are in big cities throughout China? A mother, who gave up her job so that she could continue to breastfeed, has the information and wants you to help her boost her database. Wu Ni reports in Shanghai.
When Zhou Xinxin set up on online chat group on breastfeeding, she did not expect it to attract much attention. She had only wanted to share her experience and hear what other working mothers have to say.
But the number of participants soared to 500 very quickly.
"We lack an official public information platform to tell working mothers what they could do to continue breastfeeding after they return to work," Zhou says.
The 28-year-old mother in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, gave up a high-paying job in a Japanese company so that she could breastfeed her son.
"The job required me to work night shifts, which was alright before but impossible since I had my child. So I quit."
Then she found a new job in a State-owned enterprise. During workdays, she used an electric breast pump to express milk every four hours. Her company did not offer any private room, so she had to hide in the bathroom three times a day to do it.
"I was lonely and depressed. My boss indicated that I should wean my child and my colleagues were not understanding," she says, adding that she quit her job soon after and decided to set up an online support chat group.
"Many new moms want to know how to continue breastfeeding after resuming work. In the chat group, we share with them our experiences on how to pump and store milk, about breast health and so on," she says.
In China, about 47 percent of working mothers who breastfeed have to express their milk in the restroom. Some 93 percent of companies do not have a special nursing room, according to a survey of 2,390 mothers. The research, carried out in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week 2012, was jointly conducted by opinion poll websites idiaoyan.com and the minyi.net.cn.
Yan Kun, an editor and a mother from Changsha, Hunan province, breastfed her baby for 12 months after resuming work and shared her experiences in the online chat group.
"We advocate mutual help, but more self-help. For me, sharing knowledge and helping others master skills on breastfeeding are part of self-improvement," Yan says.
Meanwhile, Zhou is also leading the group of mothers in her online chat room on an ambitious project - to draft a map of all nursing rooms in the country where mothers can breastfeed, express milk and change diapers.
To complete the mammoth task, she has requested all mothers to find the nursing rooms in their respective cites and report to her. Every time she receives information and photos, she releases them on her Weibo account.
Jin Dan, a 27-year-old mother in Shanghai, is supportive of having such a map.
She relates her recent unpleasant experience during her company's annual year-end celebration in a theater. Jin couldn't find a spot to express her milk.
"I wanted to pump my milk in the bathroom, but there was no electric outlet there," she says. "I felt like I had a rock in my breasts." She was afraid of suffering from mastitis again. The milk, if not pumped out on time, may clog milk ducts and cause mastitis, a common occurrence among new mothers.
"I often need to run errands for the company and sometimes I'm outside for long hours. It will be very convenient if I know where the nearest nursing room is," Jin says.
Zhou has a list of more than 130 nursing rooms in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Shenzhen and other cities. "Those mothers volunteer to do this. We are strangers in real life but connected online with the same objective."
"The real number is definitely more than 130 but it is still too few if you consider the vastness of our country," she says.
"But the map shows that the environment is increasingly encouraging for breastfeeding moms, especially in big cities. The change, though not a dramatic one, is worth celebrating," Zhou says.
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(China Daily 02/06/2013 page20)