Q: I’m going to Japan for a week and will be breastfeeding my son who will then be 9 weeks old. I’m concerned that public breast feeding will be taboo — can you let me know if it is culturally acceptable — and if not, any advice as to how to manage feeding my baby over those six days? Returning to the hotel every four hours isn’t much of an option! Many thanks.
A: From the information I have gathered, I find that in Japan many women breastfeed, and many combine breastfeeding and bottlefeeding in the early months. Japan is a country that loves babies. Caucasian women will be stared at because they look different, but not because they are discreetly breastfeeding. One mom in Japan says she has never felt the need to “hide” to breastfeed. In fact, she says as a new mother, it is the only time people will give up their seat for her on the train! Another mom tells me that during her years of living in Japan, she was never expected to conform to any of the customs of the Japanese. Many of the young mothers were not out with their babies in the early months, because the custom was to stay at the home of their mother for about three months before going out with their little ones. I hope this is helpful.
By Ann Calandro
BSN, RNC, IBCLC Lactation Consultant