Companies told to provide lactating stations
CEBU - Companies must provide lactating station for its female employees who are breastfeeding their infants amid government’s advocacy on exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.
Dr. Parolita Mission, regional nutrition program coordinator of National Nutrition Council (NNC-7), said the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life is crucial for optimal physical and mental growth and development.
“The first 1,000 days of a baby starting from conception until two years of age is a golden window of opportunity to nurture the child for the best possible growth and development, both physically and mentally,” said Mission during this morning’s forum of the Association of Government Information Officers Philippine Information Agency 7 that featured the observance of July as National Nutrition Month.
According to Mission, the first 1,000 days are broken into three phases which are the pregnancy period of nine months or equivalent to 270 days; the first six months of life or 180 days where pure breast milk is given to the baby; and the remaining 550 days or until two years of age where the baby is introduced to slight solid foods or complementary feeding.
“Exclusive breastfeeding for six months of a baby’s life is part of the crucial 1,000 days,” said Mission.
Executive Order 51 issued in 1986 by the late former President Corazon Aquino stipulated the implementation of measures to encourage and promote breastfeeding to ensure adequate nutrition to infants. Breast milk has colostrum which contains antibodies to protect newborns against disease.
Mission however, acknowledged that most mothers are working to augment family income and that this should not be a hindrance to the practice of breastfeeding.
Under RA 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, establishments are required to put up a lactating station in the workplace for their female workers who breastfeed their babies, said Mission.
“We are linking with the different business chambers to inform them about this law and the need to put up a lactating station,” bared Mission adding that they are gaining ground in the advocacy but much needs to be done in this area.
Central Visayas ranks third among all the regions in the country in the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for six months with an average of 4.4 months, said Mission.
Mission also said that since some breastfeeding mothers cannot bring their baby to the workplace unless they have a ‘yaya’ to take care of the baby while the mother is working, lactating mothers can instead use the lactating station to pump out breast milk and place this inside the refrigerator for storage.
Mission said the major factors why most companies cannot establish a lactating station are the additional cost it entails as refrigerator is required for storage of the breast milk and the inadequate office space.
But Mission said space is not an issue as a company can just designate a small area at a corner and place a curtain barrier as a lactating station although requiring micro and small companies to buy a fridge on top of additional increase in electric bill is an additional expense.
There is an exemption to the law which includes that if there are only a few women employees then the establishment of a lactating station is not practical, said Mission.