This is a huge topic here in Hong Kong and how maternity benefits affect many women’s choice to breastfeed their baby or not. It didn’t affect my choice as my job is quite different from the typical job in Hong Kong. I also knew I would be able to significantly cut back on my work time at my job by working less. In Hong Kong, most women only get 10 weeks of maternity leave. 4 weeks before your “due date” and then 6 weeks after. Most women will try to work as long as possible and then take a bit more off after the baby arrives. This doesn’t seem like a lot of time to really bond with your baby; establish your milk supply adequately; and just be with your baby. However, most women do it here.
Many women here don’t get the encouragement to breastfeed their babies. There’s a lot of marketing for formula out here…A LOT. It’s on the buses, in the stores, baby talks for expectant mothers…EVERYWHERE. It is improving though. More so in the public system where moms are encouraged to breastfeed, but it’s hard to convince some moms that 6 weeks is worth breastfeeding. The La Leche League here has a big presence but not everyone gets access to them. I think there might just be not enough education about breastfeeding here and the benefits of feeding your baby breast milk. Yes, there are some moms that cannot breastfeed their babies physically, but there are many who just don’t want to bother. Breastfeeding isn’t always the easiest for moms especially if they have to go back to work so quickly. Pumping is not easy, especially when the mom has nowhere to do it discreetly and comfortably. I was lucky that I could use my treatment room to pump when I needed to.
I think maternity benefits here in Hong Kong need to be looked at again and revised because I don’t think it supports moms who want to breastfeed and bond with their babies a little more than those first 2 months.