Scores of families and volunteers braved the rain yesterday to attend a fair in Taipei held by the Breastfeeding Association of Taiwan to promote the advantages of breastfeeding.
“We fear that the weather might stop people from coming,” Lin Chun-i (林君怡), president of the association, said before the fair, adding that no matter how many people showed up, it is the message they want to convey that counts.
Since the group was established eight years ago, there have been regular monthly gatherings nationwide to help nursing mothers and their families, she said.
“But this is the first time we have expanded the scale [of the event] and have held it outdoors,” the association president said.
Chiou Shu-ti (邱淑媞), director-general of the Bureau of Health Promotion, also attended the day-long event, saying that breastfeeding is widely accepted in Taiwan and that 58 percent of mothers solely breastfeed their babies in their first month, a percentage almost as high as that in Europe and the US.
However, after mothers return to work or re-enter the job market, the percentage who solely breastfeed their babies until they are six months old drops to 26 percent, she said.
To boost this percentage, Chiou said, the government is encouraging private sector businesses to set up breastfeeding rooms. Since the Public Breastfeeding Regulation (公共場所母乳哺育自治條例) took effect on Nov. 24, only the public sector has been required to provide such services.
A mother surnamed Wang (王), who breastfeeds her two-year-old daughter, said that not all nursing rooms are easily accessible or acceptable.
“Unlike nursing rooms in department stores, those in the public transport system are always locked and you have to ask the staff for help,” Wang said, adding that she prefers to breastfeed at department stores because they are “more beautiful.”
The event was also attended by professionals — international board-certified lactation consultants — who were on hand to provide mothers, especially new mothers, with assistance.