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Breastfeeding can result to less absenteeism among working mothers


Supporting breastfeeding at work places can be beneficial not only to working breastfeeding mothers but also to employers, and the country, as well.
It can result to less absenteeism among working mothers since breastfeeding helps protect babies from infections and allergies. Thus, fewer visits to the doctor and less time off from work to care for sick babies.

This was emphasized by Zenaida Tondares, Regional Coordinator of the National Nutrition Council (NNC), region 10, in the “Talakayan sa PIA” held at the Philippine Information Agency in Cagayan de Oro City.

She cited the country’s very low breastfeeding initiation rate within the first hour after birth which is only 53.5% with Region 7, in the Visayas ranking the highest, and Region 3, in Luzon, ranks the lowest.

In terms of exclusive breastfeeding rate by region, she said, Regions 3, Region 6 in Iloilo, National Capital Region (NCR), Region 13 in Caraga and CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) has the lowest rates.

Tondares added that the worst-off regions in terms of never breastfeeding are consistent with exclusive breastfeeding rates, however, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Region 9 in Zamboanga, also have low non-breastfeeding rates.

Data shows that breastfeeding rates in the country are less than optimal. Only 36% of infants 0-5 months are exclusively breastfed. After 6 months, only 39% continue to be breastfed while given complementary food. Again, after one year, only 21% continue to be breastfeed.

Tondares, further, cited that one of the major reasons why mothers stop breastfeeding is because they have to return to work and are too busy.

Thus, the need to take actions to promote, protect and support breastfeeding even at work places.

But, how can employers support working breastfeeding mothers?

Nutrition Month is one of the many celebrations held every July where a yearly theme is formulated by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) to call attention to a particular issue.

This year’s theme of “Isulong ang BREASTFEEDING – Tama, Sapat, at EKsklusibo” is centered on the importance of promoting and supporting breastfeeding practices.

Tondares said private and government institutions can support and promote breastfeeding by simply creating an enabling environment that promotes breastfeeding practices.

She said this can be achieved by establishing lactation stations or centers at work places with necessary equipments and facilities that may include lavatory for hand washing, cooling facilities for storing expressed breastmilk, electrical outlets for breast pumps, and small table and comfortable seats, among others.

She emphasized that such action is in accordance with Republic Act 10028, also known as the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, which provides for the necessary support services to enable breastfeeding mothers to combine family obligations with work responsibilities.

Provision of breastfeeding breaks of not less than 40 minutes for working breastfeeding mothers, in addition to their regular breaks, is also stipulated in RA 1002, Tondares added.

She likewise said employers should also implement the 2-month maternity leave, if not extend it.

If possible, they should allow work-from-home schemes to enable the mother to continue a exclusive breastfeeding their babies, she further said.
She also pointed out that enforcement of the Milk Code, by not allowing any direct or indirect marketing, promotion of infant formula or breastmilk substitutes within the work place, is also a way to promote breastfeeding.

The Milk Code or EO 51 otherwise known as the “National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplements, and Other Related Products, Penalizing Thereof, and for Other Purposes,” aims to promote breastfeeding through intensified dissemination of information on breastfeeding and the regulation of advertising, marketing, and distribution of breastmilk substitutes and other-related products. (PIA10-CdO/BST)

By Apipa Bagumbaran

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