I am about to travel to China with my 3 kids in 2 days. My youngest baby is only 9 months old and still happily nursing away. Formula? Tried once and was rejected completely. So, do I have to lug along the breast pump too?
The pump itself is not that heavy. I have a 7 yr old Medela pump, which doesn’t work too well, but that’s beside the point. The biggest logistically challenge is Power. China is on a 220 voltage system, while the US is based on 110. So, if I plug this pump into a hotel power socket, I can blow the engine.
Three solutions to this:
- Buy an adaptor that says: Input -220VAC, Output-9 or 12VDC. (most breast pumps operate with 12 VDC max). You can find these online in the US. Found this one on Amazon. The cost seems right, $7.15. But need to check if it’s exactly the width of the plug to make sure it fits the pump. At this stage, I am leaving in 2 days. This is not an option. There are tons of such plugs for sale cheaply in China. So, don’t sweat if you are as late as me.
- Bring a car charger/plug as this one, which costs $30. This is a very handy thing to have, particularly if you are traveling to remote areas into the lovely ethnic areas of Yunnan, or the Panda nature reserves where I am going. They are universal, and can be used back home in the US as well.
- Rent one in China? This is not quite an option yet. Chinese pharmacies don’t carry the item. I checked the Beijing United Family hospital website, and didn’t find them offering pump rental service. Having been a patient of theirs, I know they would have these equipment in the hospital, but will have to call or wait till I get there to find out. This hospital is the largest English speaking hospital in China, but they only have locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Guanzhou and Wuxi. So, won’t help you again if you are traveling to rural areas.
- Buy one in China? Actually, this will be very hard to achieve! So, not really an option.
In traditional Chinese culture, mothers nurse their children. Now-a-days, there are also a lot of working mothers. So, many of my Chinese friends wean their children at around 3 months, which is the usual length of maternity leave. Then the child is handed to grandma for care on formula. Only the very rich or the very poor continue to nurse till the baby is 1 or 2 yrs old. The very rich can afford either to be stay home moms, or buy a pump from overseas. The very poor are still farming, so they lug their babies to the field. To them, it’s the cheapest way to raise the child, since they don’t have money to buy formula.
I am lucky enough to settle on the best option – secured a loaner from my ex-McKinsey colleague.