Breast­feed­ing Mas­sage:

Magic Hands at a Price

NewsChina - - CONTENTS - By Yang Zhi­jie

Zheng Xinyi was due to give birth to her sec­ond child any day, but at what should have been a time of bliss for her, as it was for the rest of her fam­ily, she was in­stead fo­cused on whether she would be able to breast­feed her child, af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties when her first baby was born.

On Jan­uary 20, 2016, the 26-year-old gave birth to her first child at Xixi Hos­pi­tal in Hangzhou, Zhe­jiang Prov­ince. Shortly af­ter the de­liv­ery, she was in pain from clogged milk ducts, un­able to lac­tate freely.

She learned that breast mas­sage could help women in her con­di­tion, but when she asked her doc­tors for help, she was told the hos­pi­tal did not pro­vide the ser­vice.

Back then a masseuse pro­mot­ing spe­cial­ized breast mas­sage ser­vice to help new moth­ers walked around the wards ev­ery day. Be­ing anx­ious, Zheng read­ily ac­cepted the ser­vice.

“I was clutch­ing at straws,” she told Newschina. The masseuse told Zheng she had three years of mas­sage ex­pe­ri­ence and charged her 300 yuan (US$50) per hour.

De­spite the pain, Zheng un­der­went three rounds of mas­sage, and this even­tu­ally helped her lac­tate. But a week later, she was as­ton­ished to find there was a lump in her right breast. She asked the masseuse for help but was told it was bet­ter to go to hos­pi­tal to get a di­ag­no­sis. Doc­tors there told Zheng her breasts were se­ri­ously in­fected, and she should stop feed­ing her child un­til af­ter she had treat­ment.

Chaotic Mar­ket

Wang Wen­hua has been work­ing for the breast surgery de­part­ment at a ma­jor hos­pi­tal in Bei­jing for more than 30 years. Af­ter she re­tired, she opened her own clinic, pro­vid­ing spe­cial­ized breast­feed­ing ser­vices for new moth­ers. In re­cent years, Wang has of­ten had to fix the prob­lems caused when women have been given im­proper breast mas­sage. “The mar­ket is in great chaos,” she told our reporter.

Ac­cord­ing to Guo Chun­ming, di­rec­tor of the train­ing cen­ter un­der the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion of Ma­ter­nal and Child Health Care, nearly 20 mil­lion ba­bies are born in China an­nu­ally, and it is com­mon for young moth­ers to en­counter prob­lems when breast­feed­ing their off­spring.

“The ris­ing de­mand has cre­ated a huge mar­ket. But many new moms find it hard to tell the good ser­vice from the bad,” he told Newschina. “When moth­ers suf­fer from prob­lems when they breast­feed, mas­sage can solve the prob­lem quickly, but the end re­sult is usu­ally con­trary to their an­tic­i­pa­tion.”

Zhao Peng, a doc­tor at the breast surgery de­part­ment of the Ma­ter­nal and Child Hos­pi­tal of Lanzhou, in West China's Gansu Prov­ince, told Newschina that his hos­pi­tal has over the years treated a grow­ing num­ber of breast­feed­ing moth­ers whose breasts were in­jured by masseuses. He said a mother who had been di­ag­nosed with breast cancer even sought help from a masseuse rather than go­ing to hos­pi­tal, and the dis­ease was even­tu­ally in­cur­able.

Zhao has been work­ing in the sec­tor for 17 years, and when he started his prac­tice, it was rare for moth­ers to have breast­feed­ing prob­lems. Now there are prob­lems that stem from com­mer­cial pres­sure – to use paid-for ser­vices – and so­cial fac­tors such as grow­ing work pres­sure, diet and changes in at­ti­tude.

Since the 1970s, many new moth­ers aban­doned breast­feed­ing in fa­vor of in­fant for­mula, which they had been per­suaded was health­ier for the baby than breast milk. Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey by the Na­tional Health Com­mis­sion in 2001 in five Chi­nese prov­inces, only 45.3 per­cent of new moth­ers ex­clu­sively breast­fed in the first four months af­ter birth. In Bei­jing, the fig­ure was only 39 per­cent.

In 2008, when a tainted in­fant for­mula scan­dal hit China, in which melamine was added to pow­der, sick­en­ing thou­sands of ba­bies and caus­ing the deaths of six, moth­ers started be­com­ing in­creas­ingly re­luc­tant to give their ba­bies do­mes­tic milk pow­der, re­turn­ing to breast­feed­ing as they un­der­stood the im­por­tance of it for their chil­dren's health. Zhao said that many young moth­ers do not have up-to-date med­i­cal knowl­edge,

in­clud­ing a ba­sic un­der­stand­ing of how to breast­feed.

Wang Wen­hua also found that many young moth­ers learned about breast­feed­ing from over­seas text­books, but many ma­te­ri­als are in­ap­pro­pri­ate for Chi­nese moth­ers be­cause of the dif­fer­ence in body shape. Zhao added that most young Chi­nese moth­ers re­ceived breast­feed­ing ed­u­ca­tion from hos­pi­tals, post­par­tum care ser­vice providers, or on­line plat­forms, but the ad­vice given is ei­ther too tech­ni­cal or too sim­ple.

Guo Chun­ming and his team re­cently un­der­took a sur­vey on the ways in which moth­ers learn about breast­feed­ing, which found that 90 per­cent learned from on­line re­sources. “But on­line in­for­ma­tion is not com­pre­hen­sive enough,” he said.

Un­reg­u­lated Mar­ket

New mother Zhang Xiaomeng gave birth three months ago. Shortly af­ter­ward, she also suf­fered from fluid buildup in her milk ducts, and af­ter sev­eral masseuses could not help her, she came to a hos­pi­tal in Bei­jing. The hos­pi­tal cured her acute mas­ti­tis, but still rec­om­mended mas­sage for the blocked ducts. Zheng Xinyi also sought ad­vice from Xixi Hos­pi­tal in Hangzhou over her clogged and sore breasts, but was told the hos­pi­tal could not help.

Zhao Peng told our reporter that spe­cial­ized ma­ter­nal and child hos­pi­tals do pay at­ten­tion to breast­feed­ing and of­fer ad­vice and train­ing ser­vices, but some ob­stet­rics and gy­ne­col­ogy departments at gen­eral hos­pi­tals will not usu­ally pro­vide these ser­vices. “Doc­tors tend to have the per­cep­tion that pa­tients need treat­ment only when they are ill,” Zhao said.

Wang Wen­hua ex­plained that in re­cent years, there have been more breast­feed­ing prob­lems be­cause re­search has failed to keep up. “It's be­come a prob­lem – nei­ther the ob­stet­rics and gy­ne­col­ogy departments, nor pe­di­atrics and sur­gi­cal wards have paid at­ten­tion to it, and it's be­come a so­cial is­sue,” Wang said. Be­cause of the neg­li­gence of hos­pi­tals, pri­vate mas­sage busi­nesses are thriv­ing, she said.

Newschina re­cently vis­ited sev­eral masseuse train­ing com­pa­nies in Bei­jing. Hua­haoyueyuan, founded in 2014 in Bei­jing, iden­ti­fies it­self as one of China's top post­par­tum care ser­vice providers. A staff mem­ber told our reporter that around 2008, breast­feed­ing masseuses be­gan to gain pop­u­lar­ity in Bei­jing. The em­ployee claimed that “around 80 per­cent of breast­feed­ing moth­ers suf­fer prob­lems, and the de­mand for masseuses is huge.”

Most masseuse train­ing classes are di­vided into two parts: the­ory and prac­tice. Trainees have to study tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine and the struc­ture of the breasts. The staff mem­ber at Hua­haoyueyuan said on con­di­tion of anonymity that breast masseuses are not real pro­fes­sion­als and cur­rently there are no stan­dard­ized train­ing classes in the in­dus­try that stip­u­late what set of skills a masseuse should learn and how to re­spond to var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions.

Many train­ing in­sti­tu­tions do not have any thresh­old for ed­u­ca­tion level and age when re­cruit­ing trainees. Our reporter found at sev­eral train­ing in­sti­tu­tions that most trainees are aged over 40 with no med­i­cal back­ground or higher ed­u­ca­tion. Trainees learn ev­ery­thing in just 10 days and then re­ceive mas­sage cer­tifi­cates is­sued by train­ing in­stitu- tions. In Bei­jing, some ex­pe­ri­enced masseuses work in­de­pen­dently, but most self-em­ployed masseuses have to dis­trib­ute business cards to ex­pec­tant moth­ers in hos­pi­tals once they fin­ish their train­ing.

Guo Chun­ming said that lac­ta­tion through mas­sage is con­sid­ered a med­i­cal pro­ce­dure, and it is highly likely to bring harm to new moth­ers if done by some­one who is not a qual­i­fied doc­tor.

A vet­eran breast­feed­ing mas­sage trainer at Hua­haoyueyuan, who has been work­ing there for 10 years, said more peo­ple are learn­ing mas­sage skills amid the grow­ing mar­ket, and many in­sti­tu­tions that pro­vide mas­sage ser­vices co­op­er­ate with hos­pi­tals which will di­rectly rec­om­mend masseuses to new moth­ers.

“In ma­jor Chi­nese cities like Bei­jing, pa­tients and young moth­ers trust doc­tors most,” she said, adding that train­ing in­sti­tu­tions have to pay doc­tors and hos­pi­tals for the in­tro­duc­tions.

Zhao Peng does not sug­gest young moth­ers hire masseuses to help stim­u­late milk flow. He added that clogged ducts can be re­lieved with mas­sage, but the prob­lem could per­sist if the root cause fails to be solved. He did ad­mit, how­ever, that masseuses in some sense can solve prob­lems. “The pro­fes­sion ex­ists for a good rea­son,” he said, adding it is ur­gent to raise the bar of the pro­fes­sion and reg­u­late the mar­ket.

There is cur­rently no proper qual­i­fi­ca­tion for a breast­feed­ing masseuse, so any­one can claim to be one. China's Min­istry of Hu­man Re­sources and So­cial Se­cu­rity once of­fered cour­ses and cer­tifi­cates, but all pro­grams ended in March 2018 thanks to a govern­ment reshuf­fle, ac­cord­ing to a re­port by the Xin­hua News Agency.

Guo Chun­ming told our reporter that the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion of Ma­ter­nal and Child Health Care has been work­ing to reg­u­late the mar­ket. Start­ing in 2014, the as­so­ci­a­tion launched train­ing pro­grams on breast­feed­ing, mainly open to med­i­cal staff at hos­pi­tals. He said the as­so­ci­a­tion has in­vited new­born nurs­ery spe­cial­ists, ma­ter­nity ex­perts and breast doc­tors to es­tab­lish in­ter­nal stan­dards and it is ex­pected to be ex­panded to the en­tire in­dus­try.

A breast­feed­ing masseuse helps a new mother to lac­tate

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.