Thursday, August 23, 2007

Chinese Women Don't Like To Breastfeed?

Just want to share with you my little experience of taking baby D to the government clinic for checkup. The area I live in is primarily a Malay area. I am probably the only Chinese woman that takes her baby to this clinic for a checkup. Anyway, this is how the conversation has gone almost every time I'm there (I've been there 4 times already) :

Nurse: What do you feed baby?
Me: Breastmilk
Nurse: You breastfeed? No formula at all? (Sounding very surprised)

Me: No.
Nurse: Normally Chinese women don't like to breastfeed.
Then they will comment on how big, heavy, solid baby D is.

Anyway, I just wanted to know how "real" is this misconception among the public that Chinese women don't l
ike to breastfeed? I was quite surprised to hear this statement because I know many Chinese moms out there who are breastfeeding. Or is our number so small that we are overshadowed by our Malay breastfeeding friends?

If this statement is true , what is it about the Malays that makes them more successful at breastfeeding? Or what is it about Chinese women that makes us less successful?
- culture?
- religion?
- upbringing?
- mind set?
And what about our Indian counterparts?

Do share your thoughts on this. It would be interesting to know if there was a difference in breastfeeding trends among the different races.

(I know breastfeeding week is over. But this fact rings true throughout the year, and for centuries to come.)


  1. Hi L--as a Dad, I've always read that breastmilk is best for a child---it makes perfect sense. Formula can't repalce a lot of the immune boosting qualities in breastmilk.

    I've never heard that about Chinese Moms, but I'm looking forward to hearing what others have to say!

  2. Hi Lian - I'm going to be a WAHM soon and was trawling the web to see if anyone has started a 2nd hand online bookstore and arrived at your blog =)

    You're doing a nice job there which means I've got to look for another idea! Cheers!

  3. I think in those days, Chinese and Indians were not so big on breast feeding due to the brain washing of the formula companies. Some of my family thought that I was so 'jakun' to breastfeed my girls.
    But nowadays, with so much awareness on the benefits of bfding, I think all races breastfeed to the best of their ability. My personal bfding mentor was a Chinese :)

  4. I do agree with what they nurse said. Most probably most of our mothers did not bf us, and thinks that powder is more superior than bm at their time. Even my family wasn't very happy when I only feed bm to Qiqi for the first 6 months. However with the awareness we have now in our generation, i see a good improvement in bf among chinese community.

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  6. I've got the same comment thrown at me just for your info.

  7. it all depends on your willingness to do it! a lot just give up & use the easier road!!

  8. I think Malays are known to breastfeed because it was the cheaper option in the olden days and they were the poorer race. Whereas all the Chinese Puyits would be forcing formula down babies throats in the olden days. The Chinese in Malaysia were generally more able to afford formula. And in the olden days, the subject of which was better never even surfaced. I could be totally WRONG.

  9. to be honest, I always hear comment from chinese friends that

    why breastfeed?
    war breastfeed soo long ar...
    good meh?
    enough milk ar?
    nowadays modern, give formula lar..

    My friend visited klinik kesihatan also get the same comment that not many chinese breastfeed.

  10. i think malay BF cos this is the cheaper way .
    Some Chinese give up so easily becos lack of supportive from family, parents will sure ask to give formula when mum lack of milk, but sometime there dunt understand that BM need sometime to produce. I almost give up too, but at the end i got so much support from hubby, fren and family, but only able to BF for 7 months.
    But due to stress especially 1st mum, no experience at all, and have to cope with the lil one and lack of sleep. Some really cant cope with the tiredness and stress.

  11. I got the same remark too whenever I visit the Klinik Kesihatan for the usual jabs and checkup for my sons. I think most Chinese breastfeeding mothers deliver their babies in private hospitals, so that is why sometimes it seems the number of chinese mothers who breastfeed is small.

    Yeah, I tend to agree that chinese are probably the richer people in the olden days therefor there are able to buy formula milk for their babies. Those formula milk companies too are so smart to brainwash mothers that their products are much better than mothers milk. Hence, we can see the trend of chinese mothers not breastfeeding their babies.

  12. TNP:
    Yes, it makes perfect sense. Unfortunately our commercial world has knocked the sense out of many people :)

    I agree the awareness of the benefits of breastfeeding is growing among the current generation of new mothers. The older generation still stuck on formula milk.

    Mummy to qiqi:
    Yes, my mom didn't breastfeed me for long either. I agree there is improvement among the chinese community. I see more and more mothers trying to make breastfeeding work. Thanks to the increase in information and community support.

    You too huh?

    Mommy of 2 Angels:
    Yes, to breastfeed really takes determination. Or like me, just decide that I cannot afford to buy milk powder. Hahahah. Just kidding.

    Big Pumpkin:
    Yes, there is some truth to what you perceive. However, I have a feeling that their culture, family dynamics, or maybe even religion have something to do with it. Any "makcik" out there can shed some light on this? What does the Islamic religion say about breastfeeding? Does it even say anything? I heard about the term "anak susu" where single mothers adopt a child, take medication to lactate so they can breastfeed the child. An adoptive child that is breastfed is eligible to an inheritance. That tells me that there is some sort of significance to breastfeeding among the Muslims. I don't know. SOMEONE shed some light?

    Funny we only get that sort of comments from Chinese eh? Bet you never had Malay friends tell you such things.

    Anggie's Journel:
    I agree that a breastfeeding mother needs a lot of support. Good for you. You did your best.

    Also the lifestyle many of us choose these days makes the "easy way out" very tempting.

  13. True. Most of our moms believed in infant formulas than breast milk. Thanks to the encouragement of breastfeeding, many realized how important it is.

  14. I also believe that breast milk is best for babies. Infant formulas were probably formulated for mothers who don't have time to breastfeed their child.

  15. hey, it's wawa here.

    this is a nice issue to discuss about.

    well, i have met (online and offline) many chinese mothers who breastfed their children.

    sandra is one of my inspiration. heh.

    infact, i was approached by a young chinese mother when i breastfed hamzah - my second son in Harris the bookstore couple months ago.

    According to her, she breastfed her 2 daughters until they were 2.


    and on the "ibu susu" in Islam, any woman who breastfed a child at least 5 feedings will be considered as"ibu susuan".

    so, there will be no problem in "aurat" between the baby and the mother.

    aurat - areas that needed to be covered by the muslims.

    therefore, most muslim women who has adopted son (especially) will try to breastfeed the baby.

    about the inheritance?

    i am not quite sure about it.

    i'll try to get some info on it and maybe post an ntry bout it later.

    hope it explains something.

  16. Hi Wawa:
    Thanks for shedding some light on the issue.

  17. i agree on lack of info about bfding in older gen. when i opted to bf, my own mother asked if my breasts would have enuff milk cos they were small!

  18. i had the same comment made to me when i took my 3 month old to a private clinic for his jabs. the nurse said, "wah, you still fully breastfeed ah? very seldom got chinese breastfeed so long"

    well, i've always wanted to breastfeed my child from the time when i was still pregnant. back then i was very ambitious, wanted to fully breastfeed til the baby is a year old. now i'm targetting six months, then maybe i'll give him ebm in a cup.

    my son had latching on problems in the beginning and he needed all the bm he could get as he was severely jaundiced. i nearly gave up breastfeeding at the time because it was so hard for him to feed. he had to go for photo-therapy and i had to go to the hospital every 2 hours to breastfeed him. i'm glad we persevered.

    breastfeeding may hinder your freedom a little bit, but the protection and goodness of breastmilk is worth all that.


Don't go without saying something. I would love to read your comments. BUT no junk comments please.