Swapping Stories With Mothers In China About Birthing And Breastfeeding

Greetings from Beijing. The stopover in Narita (the Tokyo airport) was indeed surreal in that it was completely uneventful, while everything we are seeing and reading about the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor damage lies only a few hours away. It was eerily quiet because many train lines are not working, so people can’t easily get to their flights. 

So why am I in China? It’s a business trip unrelated to HadleyStilwell. I am privileged to serve on the board of a public company that has a top tier healthcare network in China. Unrelated to HadleyStilwell, yet it turns out, completely related. Today we visited a town outside of Beijing to tour the construction site of our next hospital, and guess what the blueprints include? Birthing suites with tubs for water births! You don’t see a lot of that in American hospitals. 

And when we had a ceremonial lunch with local government officials, my business card with the HadleyStilwell logo of the nursing mom sparked conversation about breastfeeding education and proper healthcare for mothers and babies in general. This is clearly not a conversation I would have had prior to motherhood, but breastfeeding brought us together as mothers and fathers, regardless of nationality, language barrier or position. (Hmm, similar to the way some people bond over sports?)

I talk about the unspoken international women’s club that you join in the Combining Breastfeeding With Work class, and today I got to experience it firsthand by swapping stories with Chinese mothers about, for example, having an older breastfeeding child who can talk about it, and hearing what a Chinese boy calls “mimi”, (Hadley’s word). He calls it cha cha. Oh yes, and this little boy also sings songs and draws pictures about his mother’s cha chas. Idea: Collect the words that children around the world use for breastfeeding. Not so difficult - start a Facebook page and away you go. Add it to the list. Off to get some uninterrupted sleep…

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