Starting out as a group on Facebook about a year ago to give peer support to mothers and promote breastfeeding, the Macau Breastfeeding Association was officially set up Sunday with the aim to have a law enacted to protect mothers wishing to breastfeed in public places.
Any law would have to be passed by the Legislative Assembly (AL).
The inauguration ceremony was held in the Areia Preta Health Centre, where about 50 mothers, their husbands, babies and children attended the event.
The association’s chairwoman, Joana Si Man Lam, told reporters before the ceremony that its members would need to first promote the benefits of breastfeeding and gain support from the public before a law could be enacted.
“Mothers are always asked to go into public toilets when they breastfeed but the baby is just having a meal, it’s not pornographic, but some people think it is,” Lam was quoted by The Macau Post Daily as saying.
To promote breastfeeding, Lam said that the association’s members hope to increase the number of nursing rooms in not only the government’s health centres but also public areas and shopping centres.
In the long term, Lam said the association would work with the government on drafting a law protecting breastfeeding in public places, similar to what Taiwan has had in place for two years to make breastfeeding in public places a norm.
There are no laws on breastfeeding in Hong Kong and the mainland.
According to Lam, the statistics from the Health Bureau shows that the number of mothers who breastfeed their newborns has grown from 55 percent 10 years ago to the current 75 percent.
However, mothers who continue to breastfeed their babies at home is still relatively low, at about 22 percent, because mothers are not getting the same support at home as they do in hospital and they often feel discriminated against when they breastfeed in public areas, according to Lam.(macaunews)