DAVAO CITY, Philippines – “Where do I pump? Where do I express my milk?”
These are the common questions faced by breastfeeding mothers when in public places or establishments.
Breastfeeding counselor, Chantal Grace Gumban-Febrero of the Lactation Attachment Training Counseling Help or LATCH-Davao said one of the reasons why mothers, especially the working moms, stop exclusive breastfeeding ”is because establishments lack breastfeeding areas”.
“In the workplace usually mothers are not very much aware that they have rights, that they are allowed to have lactation periods on top of the regular breaks and then there should be lactation stations,” Gumban-Febrero told Davao Today.
In a counselling session held at the SM City Davao on Friday, August 4, Gumban-Febrero said there should be “lactation stations or breastfeeding rooms” in establishments such as workplaces where mothers could comfortably express milk to take back to her child once she gets home.
“There should be a lactation station or a breastfeeding room. It might not be a very very grand place but what is important is that the mom is comfortable and she is in a private area,” she added.
Under Republic Act No. 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, lactation stations are areas described as “private, clean, sanitary and well-ventilated rooms or areas in the workplace or public places where nursing mothers can wash up, breastfeed or express their milk comfortably.”
The law states that all health and non-health facilities, establishments or institutions shall establish lactation stations provided with necessary equipment and facilities. The law also emphasizes that the lactation station should not be located in the toilet.
“It is very important because it is our law so having no lactation station and no breastfeeding could be sanctioned by the law. So they really should follow it,” Gumban-Febrero said.
Apart from the station, nursing mothers should also be “granted not less than a total of 40-minute break intervals for every eight-hour working period.
Based on the Department of Health Region11 data, for the first half of 2017, 47 percent of mothers complete breastfeeding requirement, which is 10 percent lower than last year’s record of 57 percent.
Gumban-Febrero said majority of those who fail to complete exclusive breastfeeding to their infants are working moms.
“Usually moms are hindered to breastfeed when they return to work. In the statistics, it shows that after two months (of maternity leave) moms fail to exclusively breastfeed already,” she said.
She said working mothers see exclusive breastfeeding as impossible because of their workload and hectic schedule.
However, Gumban-Febrero who is also a working mother,attested exclusive breastfeeding is “doable” given with the mother’s commitment and the proper support system.
Gumban-Febrero also stressed that the Senate Bill 1305 or the proposed Expanded Maternity Leave Law of 2017 would be of very great help for working moms.
The proposed law seeks to extend the maternity leave of mothers from 60 days to 120 days with pay and an option to extend for another 30 days without pay in order to give them more time to take care for their newborns.
“That is very helpful for breastfeeding moms. Think of it, for four months infants are assured to be exclusively breastfeed by mothers,” she said.
Gumban-Febrero urged all the mothers and mothers-to-be to empower themselves, know more about breastfeeding and urged them to exclusively breastfeed their child up to six months and beyond to ensure proper nutrition is given to the child.(davaotoday.com)