Korean women and breastfeeding: reversing the trend toward formula feeding.
In Korea, the cultural tradition states that mothers should breastfeed on demand for the first three years of an infant’s life. However, few Korean women today follow this custom. One study conducted in Korea demonstrated that 67 percent of the mothers were bottle-feeding, only 17 percent were exclusively breastfeeding and 14 percent were both breast- and bottle-feeding. The decline in breastfeeding practices in Korea can be correlated to an increased participation of women in the workforce, lack of social support and public promotion of bottle-feeding. The steady increase of Korean women in the workforce in Korea since the 1970s has led to an increase of income and the ability to purchase formula. This increase in women’s employment also brought an improvement in women’s status as well as a noted move among women to more urban areas. During this shift, women’s roles in the family have changed. One survey reported that some women believe breastfeeding is old fashioned and does not promote the image of the modern mother (Kim, 1998). Because of the decreased number of Korean women breastfeeding, there is less of an opportunity to learn about breastfeeding within the family. (excerpt)