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Breastfeeding app launched in Shanghai

By WU NI  (China Daily)

10:13, May 16, 2013

Plan hopes to create 1,000 nursing rooms for mothers across city

Breastfeeding mothers in Shanghai will soon have more nursing rooms and will be able to find them more easily thanks to a mobile phone application to be launched by a local labor organization.

The Shanghai Federation of Trade Unions plans to establish about 1,000 nursing rooms in office buildings, shopping malls and other public buildings across the city in the next three to five years where working mothers will be able to breastfeed.

"After we collect enough information about the nursing rooms, we'll ask a company to develop the app and regularly update the information," Shao Xinyu, director of the federation's department of female employees, told China Daily.

Mothers will be able to install the free app on their smartphones and search for the nearest nursing room, she said.

About 240,000 working women got pregnant last year in Shanghai, and the city's baby boom is expected to last for three to five years, according to figures from the federation.

Many working mothers who returned to work after maternity leave of about three months found it hard to find private spaces to breastfeed, Shao said.

There are no official figures on the number of nursing rooms in the city, but Shao said she is optimistic that more will be set up.

Last year, the Catic Building was the first office building in Shanghai's Jing'an district to set up a nursing room. In Huangpu district, there are 10 nursing rooms in office buildings and more were set up at many other buildings belonging to major companies.

"As more companies set up nursing rooms, we'll encourage them to open the rooms to mothers outside of the company," she said.

China's Regulations on Healthcare for Female Workers state that companies with more than five breastfeeding mothers on staff must have nursing rooms. However, 93 percent of companies do not have nursing rooms, according to a survey of 2,390 mothers by parenting forum in August last year.

Jin Zhejun a 33-year-old kindergarten employee, said there aren't any nursing rooms around her workplace in the city's Putuo district. She said she has to use a large towel to cover herself while she pumps breast milk in her office.

"It's embarrassing because there are male colleagues in the office," she said.

"I believe the app would make breastfeeding more convenient. But more important, companies and society should have more supportive measures for breastfeeding mothers," said Jin, who has an 18-month-old baby.

Meanwhile, Zhou Xinxin a 29-year-old mother in Wuhan, Hubei province, is leading a group of mothers who have gathered in online chat groups to draft a map of nursing rooms in every Chinese city.

Zhou, who encourages young mothers to find nursing rooms in their cities and report them to her, regularly releases the information through her Sina Weibo micro blog.

"An app like that would be very useful for breastfeeding mothers, but I hope it doesn't have any ads," Zhou said.


A recent poll suggested that 40 percent of Shanghai's married women are putting off having children due to low incomes and housing struggles.

Yet all of the 24 women interviewed by China Daily on Wednesday said scrapping the idea of children for financial reasons was unrealistic.

The Shanghai Municipal Health and Family Planning Commission did not reveal how many married women it surveyed or what percentage said they do not want children. It only stated that more than a third cited economic concerns for not wanting to expand their family, while the second and third most common reasons were the need to balance work and study and the pursuit of personal pleasure.

The women who talked to China Daily, however, were skeptical. Most said they understood the decision to postpone having a baby owing to financial difficulties.

Jiang Ningyan and her husband make about 20,000 yuan ($3,254) a month, but said they still have a hard time saving money after paying living expenses.

"We have to consider having a baby later, but a baby is always welcome," said Jiang, 29, who has been married for three years.

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