Hakab Na! Ilonggo mothers push to normalize breastfeeding in workplace

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Over 70 breastfeeding mothers in Iloilo joined the simultaneous 1-minute breastfeeding activity to raise awareness and normalize breastfeeding in the workplace.

Lactating mothers, along with their babies, and families gathered at the SM City Iloilo Main Activity Center on Saturday, to join the world’s biggest annual breastfeeding event called “The Big Latch On” or “Hakab Na,” with the theme  “Enabling breastfeeding – making a difference for working parents”.

The event was spearheaded by the Iloilo-based breastfeeding support group, Breastfeeding Ilonggas (BFI).

“Our goal is for a working mother to sustain her breastfeeding. That’s why she should receive support in her workplace, as this is economically beneficial and healthy for the baby,” said Adhara Sebuado, an international board-certified lactation consultant and one of the IBF’s co-founders.

She added that working mothers should have paid nursing breaks, and flexible arrangements, and employers should provide workplace nursing facilities as required by the law.

Republic Act (RA) 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 mandates all establishments, public or private, whether operating for profit or not, to support breastfeeding in the workplace.

Sebuado noted that the city government, alongside key agencies, is investing in breastfeeding programs and is closely monitoring the progress of breastfeeding policies and practices.

She furthered that there are enough lactating stations in workplaces and establishments in the city.

“For nine years, the goal of our advocacy is to normalize breastfeeding. For our moms to overcome any hesitations women may have in openly displaying their breasts and to ensure that individuals who might feel uneasy witnessing women engage in this act is not causing any discomfort,” Sebuado added.

She said the event will encourage nursing mothers to follow the recommendation of the World Health Organization (WHO) to exclusively breastfeed their babies from birth up to three to six months.

Meanwhile, Philippine Pediatric Society Western Visayas Chapter President Dr. Josie Grace Castillo encouraged lactating mothers to donate their excess breast milk to help mothers who cannot breastfeed their children after giving birth due to health complications.

“We can bring your breastmilk to the Human Milk Bank at Western Visayas Medical Center,” she said.

To mark National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, the city government is set to have its first-ever milk-letting event on August 22.

(The photos taken are authorized by the Breastfeeding Ilonggas (BFI) with consent from the mothers themselves, which was obtained by the organizing committee.)