5 SEPTEMBER 2006
i R E P O R T — T E M P E S T I N A ( F E E D I N G ) B O T T L E
YET HEALTH officials are hopeful an "enabling environment" could have even such mothers suckling their infants for longer periods. Says Secretary Duque: "(You)…have to work on the infrastructure, the social marketing and advocacy — convincing the public at large about the superior qualities of breastfeeding."
It could help if more medical professionals pointed out those "superior qualities" to patients. Among this writer's poll of 15 mothers, all of whom belong to the middle class, only eight said their obstetrician-gynecologists provided them with adequate information about breastfeeding. A mother who said her doctor gave her not only lectures, but also literature and strong encouragement for her to breastfeed, is based in the States.
As for what Duque refers to as "infrastructure," some pending proposals in Congress do address this. Set to be filed at the House of Representatives is the Working Mothers Breastfeeding Act, which aims to provide tax incentives to companies that set up lactation rooms for their employees. Another bill, the Family Support for Breastfeeding Act, would require couples to undergo breastfeeding-counseling seminars before getting married.
In the city of Manila, meanwhile, social-work officials plan to have a milk bank that would store breast milk for babies whose mothers work outside the home. Earlier this year, too, Manila made a highly publicized pitch for breastfeeding, with 3,738 mothers taking part in a record-breaking simultaneous breastfeeding. (View a DOH photo gallery of that event.) Then on the last day of August, Quezon City saw an army of about 200 mothers and their babies swarm the grounds of City Hall, promising to advance breastfeeding. (The nongovernment group Arugaan organized the event, with the help of the local government and Unicef. View a slide show.)
Malls have joined in as well, thanks to incessant lobbying by breastfeeding advocates. Last March, SM Megamall in Pasig City opened a breastfeeding station. Five months later, the new Mall of Asia in Pasay followed suit. There is a similar set-up in Davao's NCCC Mall — the first to have one in Mindanao. (View photographs of the breastfeeding stations of Mall of Asia and NCCC.)
When the PCIJ recently visited the Mall of Asia's breastfeeding station, it had at least five mothers busy with their babies every half-hour. But one pregnant woman apparently just popped in to check out the room. She said she had breastfed her first child (now 11 years old), and was planning to do the same with the second.
"I would breastfeed anywhere," she also said, recalling her experience with her firstborn. "I didn't need a breastfeeding station."
Email us your comments about this article, or post them in our blog.