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DOH-7 promotes breastfeeding, more mother-baby friendly facilities

DOH-Central Visayas Center for Health Development Health Section Nutritionist-Dietician IV Fredric Carl Te (right) during the Kapihan sa PIA on August 2, 2023. (MYP/PIA7)

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Aug. 4 (PIA) -- The Department of Health (DOH) Region 7 is pushing for the accreditation of more Mother-Baby friendly facilities in the region in line with the observation of Breastfeeding Awareness Month in August. 

DOH-7 is eyeing to have more breastfeeding-friendly communities and workplaces, according to DOH-Central Visayas Center for Health Development Health Section Nutritionist-Dietician IV Fredric Carl Te during the Kapihan sa PIA on Aug. 2, 2023.

Te said that DOH-7 has accredited various health facilities as being Mother-Baby friendly, which includes Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Cebu South Medical Center, St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital, and Julio Cardinal Rosales Memorial Hospital in Dalaguete, Cebu. 

For a facility to become accredited as Mother-Baby friendly, it must comply with the 10 steps to successful breastfeeding.

The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative implemented by the World Health Organization (WHO) summarizes the policies and procedures a facility must provide to maternal and newborn services in support of breastfeeding: 

1. Have a written infant feeding policy that is routinely communicated to staff and parents.

2. Ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge, competence and skills to support breastfeeding.

3. Discuss the importance and management of breastfeeding with pregnant women and their families.

4. Facilitate immediate and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding as soon as possible after birth.

5. Support mothers to initiate and maintain breastfeeding and manage common difficulties.

6. Do not provide breastfed newborns any food or fluids other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.

7. Enable mothers and their infants to remain together and to practice rooming-in 24 hours a day.

8. Support mothers to recognize and respond to their infants’ cues for feeding.

9. Counsel mothers on the use and risks of feeding bottles, teats and pacifiers.

10. Coordinate discharge so that parents and their infants have timely access to ongoing support and care.

“The mother-friendly facilities are not limited to government hospitals but also are encouraged in private hospitals including workplaces especially that we also have the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009," said Te. 

The Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009 stipulates that workplaces should encourage, protect, and support the practice of breastfeeding and create an environment where the basic physical, emotional, and psychological needs of mothers and infants are fulfilled through the practice of rooming-in and breastfeeding.

Under the law, a workplace or employer must:

  • Have a proper lactation space or station with needed equipment, such as comfortable chairs, a table, outlet for breast pump, lavatory for handwashing (unless there is a functional lavatory nearby), and refrigerator where mothers can store pumped breast milk. 
  • Provide nursing mothers additional breaks on top of the regular time-off to give them enough time to pump breast milk.

Te said that breastmilk is the only ideal food for infants and encourages exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months and adding complementary feeding with breastfeeding until the age of 2.

“Breastmilk is easily digested by babies, has antibodies, and has the right amount of nutrients which are very critical for infants, plus it also helps the mothers reduce their risk of cancer and helps in post-pregnancy weight loss," Te added.

The Breastfeeding Awareness Month aims to protect, promote, and support breastfeeding across the country as the normal, natural and preferred method of feeding infants and young children. (MYP/PIA7 Cebu)

About the Author

Myrtle Pasigan

Information Officer

Region 7

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