August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Incidentally, August 1 to August 7 is World Breastfeeding Week. There’s no better time for you to know or review your rights as a breastfeeding mom!
Your decision to breastfeed and your everyday commitment to doing it fulfills your child’s physical and emotional needs. These should not be undervalued, as the sacrifice you make as a breastfeeding mom is incomparable. You deserve to be nurtured by the people around you, and to be protected by the laws of the land so you can continue to breastfeed despite obstacles and barriers.
In celebration of National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, here is a list of what you should know as a mom so you can continue to love and care for your child through breastfeeding.
Worried about how you can exclusively breastfeed in the first few months after giving birth? Know that according to Republic Act 11210, you are entitled to a paid maternity leave of 105 days, with an option to extend for an additional 30 days without pay. If you are a solo parent under the Republic Act 8972, you are granted an additional 15 days’ leave with full pay. These leaves will allow you to nurse your baby and be physically present in the most crucial “fourth trimester.”
Reading about and attending classes are great help, but everything you learned will all be head knowledge until you are holding your baby. Your healthcare providers who are present with you after giving birth and right after your child has been roomed-in with you must teach you how to express your breastmilk and aid your baby to latch properly. They must also give you tips and pieces of advice as you recuperate in the hospital, and provide you with pamphlets, brochures, and reading materials for supplementary learning.
When your body has recovered and you’re strong enough to leave your home with your baby, don’t be afraid to feed your baby as you eat in your favorite restaurant! Just make sure to wear a comfortable, breastfeeding-friendly top or your nursing cover. No one should stop or shame you from breastfeeding in a public place.
Whether you are in the hospital for your baby’s monthly check up, or in the mall for an errand, you should have access to a sanitary lactation station where you can wash your hands and express your breastmilk. According to Republic Act 10028 or the “Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009,” this lactation station must have at least a table and a seat, electrical outlets, and a refrigerator or a cooling facilities where you can safely store your breastmilk. For your convenience, you can always check the list of malls with lactation stations near you.
Yes, this lactation break is on top of the regular time off for regular employees, and is designed specifically for you to breastfeed or express your breastmilk. If you are working on an 8-hour period, these lactation breaks should not be less than a total of 40 minutes. This means that you can divide the 40 minutes into shorter times for expressing milk, or whichever works best for your schedule. Take note, this is counted as “compensable hours worked,” according to DOLE Department Order No. 143, s. 2015.
Know that breastfeeding is so much bigger than just you and your baby. It is an act promoted across languages, countries, and economic status, because of the health benefits it provides. By breastfeeding, you make a difference in the life of your child, and you can always choose to go bigger than that. You can donate breastmilk in human milk banks near you. You can also share your experiences and offer practical and helpful tips on breastfeeding that your friends and family may find useful. Lastly, you can always read valuable content and share them on your social media platforms and encourage others to do the same so you can be a channel for spreading awareness on the benefits of breastfeeding.