By Jigger J. Jerusalem
THE considerable number of lactating women who are employed has remained one of the challenges of the government in promoting breastfeeding outside the confines of home.
Dr. Cristilda Villapañe, a medical specialist at the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center, said that although majority of women in the region breastfeed their children, there are still those who prefer formula milk.
Among those who feed their infants synthetic milk are working women, especially those who have overseas jobs.
“The challenge is the sustainability (of breastfeeding) as more mothers have now become part of the workforce,” Villapañe told reporters during a forum on breastfeeding on Friday.
But for women who are employed here, they can invoke Republic Act 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Act, which protects their rights to breastfeed their children even in the workplace.
The law even requires employers in the public and private sectors, to create lactation room for their female employees, Villapañe said.
Employers who comply with RA 10028 by providing lactation rooms are also given incentive as funding from building such facility in the workplace is tax-deductible.
Under the law, lactating workers are also given an extra 40-minute break so they can take the time to breastfeed their babies.
At the Department of Health-managed NMMC, Villapañe said the hospital caters to an average of more than 7,000 lactating mothers every year.
From January to July this year, the NMMC has already served close to 4,000 breastfeeding mothers, she added.
She said most of the mothers, about 98 percent, that they have catered are breastfeeding their infant children.
Villapañe said the government effort has been very effective and health officials are campaigning for breastfeeding because of its advantages to both mothers and infants.
For his part, Commission on Population regional director Jeremias Gupit said they are coordinating with the health department in promoting breastfeeding citing its advantages to couples who are practicing natural family planning.
During that period, at least for the first six months of lactation, breastfeeding may prevent pregnancy, or known as the “lactational amenorrhea method” (LAM).
LAM is defined as a modern, temporary family planning method that has been developed as a tool to help support both breastfeeding and family planning use. It is based on the natural infertility resulting from certain patterns of breastfeeding.
Aside from promoting this method, Gupit said they have also introduced other forms of family planning, especially to the grassroots communities in the region.