Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Friday, August 29, 2008 at 10:09 AM
Mommy's stressed and on a diet
This is a translation of an article that appeared in the Southern Daily (南方日报) which is the Guangdong Province Party newspaper, sister to the more lively and commercial Southern Metropolis Daily and part of the hydra-like Southern Media Group.
The translation is by occasional Danwei contributor Xiao Mo.
9 out of 10 new mothers don't have enough breast milkOriginal article by Sun Xiaosu; translated by Xiao Mo
An obstetrics and gynecology expert explained to this reporter that some women born after the 1980s cannot produce enough breast milk to feed their babies because of dieting to look slim, which has caused malnutrition. They're also afraid to ruin their figures by breast feeding, which has prevented their natural lactation reflexes.
Many babies are only breast-fed for up to four months.
Everyone knows that a child younger than six months mainly relies on the nutrition of milk, and breast milk is the best choice.
Ms Li, who works in TV, is very confused at the moment. She says that she only has enough milk to give her two month old "a snack."
"I know that it's best for babies to be breast fed after they are born, but after trying lots of different methods I still can't squeeze a lot out," says Xiao Wang who works in administration at a state-owned bank. She is quite distressed and eats carp and old chicken soup ('鲫鱼汤、老母鸡汤') at almost every meal, because they help to "produce milk" ('发奶'). But by the time her baby reached three months, her milk flow ceased completely.
Many women spend money asking experts to massage their breasts after child birth. They also buy different kinds of medicine which supposedly "induce milk," but ultimately the effect of this is minimal.
Chen Guojin, head of the obstetrics and gynecology department of the Guangzhou Medical College Number Three Hospital, tells this reporter that nowadays fewer and fewer women breastfeed their babies. Many babies in Guangzhou Province do not get breastfed after a few months, and 20-30% of women stop lactating after two months.
Zhang Yujie from the Number One People's Hospital in Guangzhou tells this reporter that modern women try everything to eat nothing in order to lose weight, because they want to "look beautiful" - this is the main reason for the deficiency in breast-feeders in our country.
Zhang Yujie said that many of the pregnant women born after the 1980s are only children—very spoilt. Young mothers born after the 80s are afraid of hard work, and don't want to zuoyue zi (坐月子) [being confined/immobile for a period of time after childbirth]. Grandparents from both sides treat both the mother and the baby like little treasures.
In order to procure a good figure, some young mothers use figure-shaping bras. This will cause fibers to block up that will also affect lactation.
Apart from this, when women are in labor they choose to have a caesarean section. Women who have cesarian section births have less breast milk than women who give birth naturally.
The pressures of the mothers' lifestyles can also obstruct lactation. This journalist saw a nurse at the Guangzhou Medical College trying to convince a Ms Liu to breast feed, but in the end Ms Liu still persisted in feeding her newly born milk powder.
Zhang Yujie says that the phenomenon of not having enough breast milk is very common aomgst the post-natal women that she knows. "Most of the women have no more breast milk left after half a year, and some 20-30% of women who have given birth don't even lactate after the child reaches the age of one month. The ones who can persist to one year are few."
"Pressure from my danwei [work unit / company] and from life—we have to support a house and a child, this is why after two months I stopped breast feeding and switched to milk powder," says Xiao Liu, who has worked at a state-owned enterprise for three years, to this reporter. If she were to ask for time off her salary would be cut by 30%, and she would also lose her bonus. Just over one thousand yuan would not be enough to maintain her living costs. Because of this, Ms Liu had to change to milk powder.
"In fact the majority of women should be able to satisfy the breast-feeding needs of their babies according to the 'lactation stimulation reflex'" according to Wang Xiaoyi from the Love Baby ('爱婴') section of the Guangzhou Medical College Number Three Hospital. Wang also said that hospitals abroad are extremely careful about establishing the lactation reflex in post-natal women.
After the child is born, the doctor immediately asks the mother to start breast feeding. After the lactation reflex has been formed, breast milk will become increasingly plentiful. It can also strengthen uterine contraction, and reduce postpartum hemorrhages.
UNESCO encourages breast feeding for two years, but there is a big gap between the current situation in China and the advice of the UN. In China there is a somewhat long-standing misunderstanding, which is that after childbirth women are too tired to breast feed straight away. Experts have said that breast milk is the most nutritious food and raises immunoglobulin in babies, helping them fight against illness. Although feeding babies milk powder will induce faster growth, premature contact with different proteins such as in cows milk will have a negative effect on their immunity, and their physical constitution will be weaker than babies who have been breast-fed.
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