When breast milk is delivered to the doorstep

Updated: 2013-02-06 07:49

By Wu Ni (China Daily)

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When breast milk is delivered to the doorstep

A working mother packs up her breast milk for a free delivery service sponsored by Johnson's Baby iMom Community in Shanghai.

Wearing a helmet, carrying a big bag and riding an electric bike, Yuan Liangjun looks no different from other courier personnel in the city.

But the pink jacket he wears reveals his special mission: He is a breast-milk delivery man, whose service is free of charge. His task is to send fresh breast milk to babies within an hour after it is produced by mothers who are forced to be separated from their babies. Most of these mothers are at work.

Before meeting his client at an appointment time, Yuan carefully takes out a freezer bag. "We are not allowed to touch the mother's milk during the delivery," he says.

Luo Li, a mother who books the service, warmly greets Yuan outside her office in Jiujiang Road in downtown Shanghai. Her two packages of breast milk are carefully wrapped and placed inside a freezer bag, then stored in an icebox, before being put in Yuan's big package.

Luo is happy with the availability of such a service. Otherwise, the mother would have to spend nearly an hour riding in a subway to bring the milk home, which she was doing for three months before she discovered the courier service.

The free breast milk delivery is sponsored by Johnson's Baby iMom Community, an online community for new mothers to share experiences on nursing babies and help each other when they face problems.

Launched in January, the service is available to mothers within Shanghai.

"We receive 50 to 60 orders every day but we can only meet the demand of five mothers each time because of limited resources," Yuan says.

"We have received very positive feedback from the moms and we are considering to extend the service period and to cover a wider area," Yuan says.

Most mothers return to the workforce after exhausting their maternity leaves of about three months. Despite various challenges, many continue to breastfeed and share their joys and woes in online forums.

Hua Jingjing calls herself a Weibo-friendly mother. (Weibo is a popular Chinese micro-blogging service.) A sales assistant in Shanghai, she returned to work when her son was 4 months old but continued breastfeeding.

She bought the pump and ice bags on e-marketing site Taobao.com, as recommended by other mothers on Weibo. She follows many experienced mothers and pediatricians on Weibo and often browses online parenting forums like babytree.com and iyaya.com, to learn breastfeeding tips.

"I also watched a video on how to express milk using my hands," she says.

Although it is inconvenient to pump the milk in her office restroom, Hua plans to carry on breastfeeding until her son is at least 1 year old. The key to success, she says, is "an internal persistence, a strong belief that breastfeeding is the best for my baby".

Contact the writer at wuni@chinadaily.com.cn.