The issue of mothers breastfeeding their babies in public is a topic to be discussed by the coming Shanghai Municipal People's Congress thanks to the efforts of a young mother who wrote to the mayor about her embarrassment.
Back in the 1950s and 60s, there were separate waiting rooms in public venues, such as railway stations, where mothers with young babies could rest and breastfeed without feeling embarrassed.
Such rooms disappeared as the country's population grew rapidly and these public venues became crowded.
Many people also now prefer to feed their babies with powdered milk.
This has greatly reduced the number of young mothers who breastfeed their babies and may explain why there is no urgent need for such separate private spaces today.
However, the feeding habits of some mothers cannot be an excuse for the relevant public service department to be slack over the issue of these facilities.
Breastfeeding is encouraged worldwide because breast milk has been confirmed to be more healthy and nutritious for babies. However embarrassment has also forced many mothers to use milk powder to feed their babies in public venues.
The latest research also indicates that a mother's mood will affect the quality of her milk. If a mother is angry, happy or sad while breastfeeding her baby, it will have an impact on the health of her baby.
It is not difficult to imagine how embarrassed a mother would be when breastfeeding her baby under the gaze of strangers.
If the research finding is true, the uneasiness caused by her embarrassment will have a negative impact on the health of her baby.
Even if such a finding is nonsense, a mother has the right to shun from public gaze on such an occasion.
The fact that relevant public service departments fail to show enough concern for such a matter suggests that much work is needed to drive home the people-centered concept among civil servants.
The fact that a young mother has written to her city mayor about her embarrassment is a sign that the sense of personal rights is prevailing among more people.
(China Daily 01/29/2007 page4)