BEIJING, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese experts have called for support from society to create an encouraging environment for breastfeeding during World Breastfeeding Week which ends Tuesday.
"Breastfeeding is crucial to children's healthy growth and the health of the whole nation," Lu Mai, secretary-general of the China Development Research Foundation, said at a forum on breastfeeding.
However, the rate of breastfeeding is relatively low in China. The World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund said that the breastfeeding rate among six-month-old infants in China was currently lower than 50 percent.
"It is mainly due to the deficiency of a support system for breastfeeding," said Wu Haiying, obstetrics department director of Henan Provincial People's Hospital.
Liu Li, a young mother, said that she never received any guidance or services for breastfeeding during the six-week postpartum recovery period.
"Mothers need support from both family and social communities, including medical care institutions and work places, and they also need legal protection and social security on breastfeeding," said Ge Yanfeng, with the Development Research Center of the State Council.
Ge's view was echoed by a report released by the China Development Research Foundation. "Measures should be taken to raise public awareness of the importance of breastfeeding, encourage medical care institutions to provide professional guidance and help for new mothers, and improve the legislation for maternity leave and the childbirth insurance system," the report said.