Child Development and Public Health




Breastfeeding in China

If you are thinking about giving birth in China, do not expect the hospitals support for breastfeeding or nursing. There is a lack of knowledge about the concept of breastfeeding. Women receive samples of formula during prenatal visits. Mother who desire to breastfeed have less support and therefore most do not make that their first choice for feeding. China has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world. Their government acknowledges the issue and had even placed a ban on companies to advertise formula. This was in an effort to increase the number of breastfeeding mothers. According to my reading, less than 16% of new mothers in urban China breastfeed for the recommended six months. This is very different from the United States. What puzzles me is that according to one of the articles that I read, breast massages are common in China. While we have lactation consultants in our hospitals, China has breast massage therapist. These therapist visit the mother and “she can expect to have at least one visit a day” (www.havingababyinchina). The therapist will “freely” squeeze the mother’s breast and can tell them whether or not they have an adequate milk supply. Statements such as “your mild is bad quality”, “your baby has a vitamin deficiency” and “your baby is underweight” are discouraging to the new mother that is trying her best to stick to the regiment of breastfeeding.


According to the CDC, 80% of babies born in the United States start out breastfeeding. The topic of breastfeeding is very meaningful to me. There have been many recalls on formula in the United States. Some of the issues with the formula can have a devastating result on our little ones. While breastfeeding is no easy tasks, once a mother completely makes up her mind to do so it can be a rewarding experience for both the mother and the baby. Most of the time, we consider the best interest of the child in the early childhood field.  But, breastfeeding is also in the best interest of the new mother. Choosing to breastfeed helps the mother save money by not having to purchase formula. Breastfeeding also has physical benefits for the new mother. During the post partum period, nursing the baby helps the uterus to return to its normal size, reduced post partum bleeding, and provides one on one time with the newborn baby. After the post partum period, breastfeeding continues to provide a benefit to the mother by burning calories.

I had the luxury of being able to breastfeed all three of my biological children. Of course, the first time was the hardest. There was so much support during and after my hospital stay. The support of my family and friends made a big difference when I was ready to give up. I never made it to breastfeeding for an entire year but I was able to make it six months with my oldest two and four months with my youngest. While I had to begin to introduce formula at six months and four months, I was still able to provide them all with breast milk by pumping. Reading about the breastfeeding practices in China made me appreciate what we have in the United States. I will continue to support the breastfeeding efforts of the parents in my child care center. Based on the information received, I will do more research on the topic and provide information to the parents that enroll in my center.


Need breastfeeding help or support? Contact La Leche League International. Here is there website: