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Postnatal centers from posh to 'poor' (2)

(Shanghai Daily)

15:13, January 28, 2013

On, a Shanghai mother whose screen name is "Summer Star" said one center promised complete mother and infant care, including medical examination, education in breast feeding, stimulating lactation, massage and yoga. She did not identify the center but said in a recent post, "It is operated by a Taiwanese."

"But the fact was that the food was bad and no one did laundry for me," she said. "Other services in the ads were never mentioned during my staying. What made me furious was that the caretakers there promoted milk powder, claiming that breast feeding only would cause calcium deficiency in the baby."

After a nightmare month, "Summer Star" went home with a low milk supply and a malnourished baby. She hired a yuesao (literally "moon sister-in-law") or maternity maid.

"The money I spent on the center was enough to pay the yuesao for eight to nine months," she said in her post. "That's really a huge difference."

As postnatal care insiders, some yuesao told Shanghai Daily they have heard quite a few disagreeable behind-the-scenes stories.

Wan Ying, a yuesao, says some of her clients complained about service in the centers. "In some of the centers, one family doesn't have one special ayi (maid) helping them, but different ayis doing different jobs," she says. "There are ayis knocking on the door, one after the other, to help feed babies, give massage and do other things, so the new mothers were not able to take a rest."

Besides, the involvement of several ayis with a family increases the risk of passing infection.

Not all the centers are lax in standards and hygiene, skimping on ayis. Some are very high-end, with strict service and management standards.

These higher-end centers are calling for national or municipal regulation of the postnatal care industry.

The Shanghai CareBay Maternity Care Service, one of the earliest in Shanghai, says the absence of supervision means there's a low barrier to entry the industry.

"For example, we find that some centers just rented rooms in hotels, which is very dangerous to babies, because such rooms usually are not well-disinfected," says Irene Guo, media supervisor of CareBay.

Although CareBay cooperates with several Shanghai hospitals and has received healthcare instructions from non-governmental organizations, it has never been inspected once by a government department.

"We have to invite experts to make secret visits to see whether employees are working strictly according to our standards," says Guo.

"We hope strict government regulation will cleanse the market and force out some unqualified centers. Then the market can develop in a healthy way."

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