It is titled ‘An Act Promoting a Comprehensive Program on Breastfeeding Practices and Regulating the Trade, Marketing, and Promotions of Certain Foods for Infants and Children’, but it is better known as the ‘Monster Bill' that is trying to get passed in Congress. Though I am the first to admit that, by no means, am I an expert in Law or even in the know of the workings of getting Bills passed, my interest was piqued by the criticisms and controversies surrounding this one. More importantly, I knew that this would be one that could negatively affect the baby steps and advances that we have come to enjoy as a country promoting breastfeeding.
I am a mother who believes in breastfeeding. I believe in the benefits it gives not only the mother and child, but also the positive effects it has on the community and the Country as well, as more and more women make the choice to practice it. I breastfed both my kids - maybe not as long as I would have wanted to, but I did so for as long as I could and I am proud of it. I recall that when I had my firstborn in 2006, things were much different. I truly felt that there was a lack of support for women like me who breastfed by choice. Even in the hospital, rooming-in my son and being adamant to not have him take any formula were requests that the hospital considered, but did not follow. It was up to me to get myself to the nursery so that I could feed my son and stop the ‘need’ for the hospital staff to keep giving him formula milk every hour or two ‘because he was hungry’.
I noticed the difference when I had the pleasure to breastfeed again in 2011 with my daughter. Though the hospital provided us with a can of formula, the amount they gave was much less than what they gave my son because this time, my baby was roomed-in less than 24 hours after my C-section. I noticed too that there was an improvement in the amount of information available to me to help me with breastfeeding my daughter because of laws that had been enhanced and awareness that had been made stronger though the years, including the provision of breastfeeding rooms in malls and establishments. These made all the difference. Gone were the odd looks from others and the uncomfortable stares while I breastfed. Because of the steps we have made towards promoting breastfeeding, I was able to go about my errands and my responsibilities and still breastfeed effectively.
This ‘Monster Bill' being reviewed now seems to be a move backwards, hindering whatever advancements in breastfeeding we have accomplished. Though the title seems harmless and good, looking more into it and studying its provisions makes me sad that our legislators would even try to get this bill passed. For instance, how could unpaid breastfeeding/pumping breaks help promote breastfeeding? It makes no sense at all! The existing law providing paid 40-minute milk breaks per 8-hour work shift is something that many breastfeeding mothers in the workplace treasure and appreciate. It is not only a means to support them but a motivation in itself to breastfeed even while working.