In response to resident complaints, Beijing plans to add nursing rooms to public venues and include them in future urban planning.
At an event celebrating World Breastfeeding Week in Beijing, Wang Guoqiang, deputy minister of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, recognized “the deficiency of existing nursing rooms and the demand for better nursing environments.” He stated that they will advocate for the integration of “nursing room construction into relevant regulations and urban planning plans.”
Following embarrassing and awkward experiences nursing in public, many have expressed that the government should provide nursing rooms since they have promoted breastfeeding in a country that is now expecting a baby boom.
As a result of years of campaigning for awareness, the percentage of babies exclusively breastfed for the first six months have risen by more than thirty percent from 2008 to 2013. China has already exceeded the global average of 43 percent, as reported by UNICEF.
Yet, women are scorned for breastfeeding in public. A woman nursing her child on a Beijing subway was photographed and heavily criticized on social media, but public facilities such as airports, train stations, and hospitals in Beijing lack nursing rooms.
Social media has also highlighted the deficiencies of existing public facilities for mothers and children, where celebrity Ma Yili shared her experience of having to change her daughter’s diapers in a toilet stall. Ma criticized that nursing and changing rooms should have electricity sockets for breast pumps, changing tables, and a sink for mothers to wash their hands after changing diapers. Her social media post was read 28 million times since publishing.
Another advocate is military singer Tan Jing, deputy of the National People’s Congress, who spoke up in the March session about including standardized nursing rooms in public areas. She stated that current nursing rooms often only have a table and a chair, and lamented how mothers would nurse in toilets or struggle to hide from the public’s eye.