About a year or two years ago, I had the chance to be a panelist in the thesis defense of some fourth year Nursing students. One of the paper I read was on the support women get when breastfeeding in the workplace. It was an interesting study because I am not very familiar with local laws supporting breastfeeding in the workplace or in public places such as malls.
The Department of Health has always been pushing for women to breastfeed their babies until at least six months. However, the number of women who exclusively breastfeed their babies is very low. UNICEF Philippines has provided some of these facts:
1. Eighty percent (80%) of children started breastfeeding within one day of birth BUT exclusive breastfeeding lasts only for for an average of 24 hours.
2. Mothers did not breeastfeed their babies because:
a. She does not have enough milk- 31%
b. She is working – 17%
c. Her nipples/breasts ache – 17%
d. Her child does not want to breastfeed – 11%
e. Her child is sick – 11%
f. She is sick – 9%
g. Other reasons
3. Well-off and better-educated mothers whose children were delivered by a health professional were less likely to breastfeed their children exclusively.
These statistics reveal that there is still so much work to be done in educating women about the importance of breastfeeding. A few months ago, I blogged about breastfeeding. I find it difficult to understand how women (with the exception of those who cannot physiologically produce milk) would choose not to breastfeed their children. In the Philippines, statistics would suggest that even women who are apparently well-educated on the benefits of breastfeeding would still opt to bottle-feed their babies. My hypotheses then are as follows:
1. There is not enough support for women in the workplace to continue breastfeeding. For instance, they are not provided rooms where they can express milk and store these in refrigerators. Mothers can take the milk in sterile packs or bottles on their way home, store it in their own refrigerators and instruct nannies to thaw it in time for the baby’s next feeding time.
2. Public places such as malls don’t have facilities where mothers can breastfeed their babies privately.
While I am holding on to my second hypothesis, SM mall is an exception.Around last year, we took the kids to a playroom at SM mall in Bacolod. Just around the corner, I was surprised that there was a breastfeeding room. Last month, I finally got to take a peek at the room and I was greeted by a nurse who smilingly inquired if I want to breastfeed my baby. Jojo was full so I said no. I noticed how the room look very friendly and there was a small bed where you can sit or lie down with the baby. I wish all malls are like SM. However, I noticed that there is only one room for the entire SM building. If you happen to visit SM Bacolod, it’s spacious and covers two whole city blocks. Despite this, I am impressed by the management of SM and their mother and baby-friendly policy.
I am writing about public places having facilities for breastfeeding moms because I got to experience breastfeeding my children in public places such as malls. While I can just go back to the parking lot and breastfeed the baby inside the vehicle, there are instances where babies can get really loud and the parking lot is at the opposite end of the building. I have to do it as discreetly as possible and it is at this point that I wish there are rooms exclusive for breastfeeding moms.
How about you, will you advocate for breastfeeding rooms in the workplace and public places?
Source of Logo: UNICEF (2010)