But breastfeeding remains a challenge in Hong Kong. The lack of proper facilities is “a major contributing factor,” says Wendy Tang, secretary for the Hong Kong Breastfeeding Mothers’ Association, a local advocacy group. That’s especially true for hospitals, where newborns and their mothers need the most help, she adds. Queen Elizabeth Hospital is the only local hospital certified as “baby friendly“ (link in Chinese) based on international breastfeeding requirements established by UNICEF.

The dearth of breastfeeding facilities forces some mothers to breastfeed in public spaces, including parks and restrooms. In socially conservative Hong Kong, that sometimes leads to awkward moments or even arguments. Nearly a third of breastfeeding mothers said they were “stared at, being advised to breastfeed in other places or being complained about,” according to an April survey conducted by UNICEF Hong Kong.

In December, a local taxi driver took a picture of a foreign mother breastfeeding and posted it on Facebook, local media outlet Apple Daily reported (link in Chinese).

New mothers have also struggled to balance work and life. Under Hong Kong law, full-time employees are entitled to just 10 weeks of paid maternity leave, compared to 39 weeks in the UK. “Full-time working mothers and on-demand nursing mums face a pretty challenging situation,” said breastfeeding consultant Amy Fung in a March 18 interview (video, Cantonese) with local media outlet Speakout Hong Kong. “The job after work is a 24-hour one.”

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