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Normalising breastfeeding is a topic that is garnering more attention, including right here in Hong Kong. A new campaign called #Ittasteslikelove has garnered over 100 companies in the local food and beverage industry to backing the movement that empowers mothers to breastfeed in public, however and whenever they need.
The challenges of that many mothers face when breastfeeding have been well documented globally, and in Asia. Despite breastfeeding being a natural, healthy and necessary part of childrearing and human life, and in many places is protected by law, many mothers continue to face cultural taboos and social discrimination when breastfeeding in public.
Right here in Hong Kong, 40% of women who breastfeed in public have endured complaints and other unpleasant experiences such as being asked to “cover up” or directed to a bathroom, according to figures provided by UNICEF. It has been cited as one of the contributing reasons for the city’s notoriously low breastfeeding rate – currently, only 27.9% of women reach the minimum 6-month exclusive breastfeeding recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
While Hong Kong authorities and the WHO have continually raised awareness on the health benefits of breastfeeding, for both the mother and the baby, without the public and community supporting mothers, it is hard for mothers to overcome the discrimination surrounding breastfeeding.
In light of this, journalist Liz Thomas founded the #Ittasteslikelove campaign with the goal to enable mothers to breastfeed in public Hong Kong without harassment or disapproval, and encourage the entire community to welcome mothers to do so. Since launching the campaign, over 100 restaurants, cafés and bars in Hong Kong have shown their support in order to ensure parents aren’t left feeling isolated.
Commenting on the positive response, Thomas said that it sends a “broader message that breastfeeding, which is the biological norm, is not something that should be hidden away…there are still too many stories of women being instructed to nurse in toilets, or told to cover up. We want to put an end to that stigma.”
Among some of the F&B brands backing the campaign and pledging that nursing mothers will be welcome and supported in their establishments are Pret A Manger, Caffe Habitu, Spicebox Organics, MANA!, Elephant Grounds. Groups have also joined the list, including Black Sheep Restaurants and Maximal Concepts. All participating restaurants will have visible #Ittasteslikelove signs and some even offer complimentary drinks or cookies to help nursing mothers feel fully comfortable.
Commenting on the campaign, commercial director of Pret A Manger Asia Yumi Li said, “Breastfeeding is a very natural thing which should not be discriminated against in our society…We are pleased to offer a safe, secure, comfortable and supportive environment for nursing mothers to feel free to breastfeed her child.”
Thomas has plans to keep pushing the campaign all over Hong Kong to encourage more organisations, from gyms to salons and shops, to also join. The ultimate goal is to shed more light on a positive, normalised narrative around breastfeeding and bring it out of the shadows.
For more information on #Ittasteslikelove, follow them on Facebook.
Lead image courtesy of Jose Luis Gonzalez / Reuters.