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Friday, September 11, 2009

Setting Up a Lactation Program at Work - Festival Success!

Finally! August is over and I am happy to report that our Breastfeeding Awareness Festival was a huge success :D Wooohooo! With the help of Ms. D and A of our wellness division and of FA of our training center, we were able to push through with the 2-day festival. I used my network in the mommy bazaar circles and was able to invite interesting exhibitors.

Since this is a "neutral" office, we were able to invite speakers from various breastfeeding groups in Metro Manila. As Judy of Planet Noah shared, this was the first time that she was able to really attend and listen to a wide variety of talks related to breastfeeding. I was also surprised that not only young moms were interested but also grandmothers, singles and dads as well. We included a raffle during the talks to spice things up but generally, the attendees were really interested in what the speakers shared.

The event was opened by top management who announced the opening of a lactation room in one of the buildings in our complex. The lactation room used to be an executive ladies' room but was converted - toilet bowls were removed, tables and chairs were installed and up for request is a refrigerator. Management further announced that they were looking for a space for another lactation room in a second building in our complex. Management was also open to a proposal of establishing a "fixed" policy, like our existing "no-smoking policy," permitting lactating female employees to go on lactation breaks. C and I need to originate this policy proposal though and hope to have this approve within the year.
I believe C and I were able to achieve the purpose of our festival -- management is aware that there is a NEED to support breastfeeding moms and have actually taken steps to respond to this need. My boss even wrote about our event in his weekly column and the event was also featured in a national leading daily. C and I had an evaluation meeting with Ms. D and Ms. A last week and they reported that they received a lot of positive feedback about the event.
I am not sure if there are other government offices/instrumentalities with lactation rooms although, several private companies (including Nestle, would you believe?!) have several. By being able to establish a lactation policy and rooms in my government office, I think my government office has set a good example which can be used in convincing other offices (public and private) to establish their own programs.
In launching this event, most important would be initiative and the drive to follow through. C and I took baby steps and dogged the concerned offices/departments for the establishment of our program. Fortunately, Ms. D and Ms. A, who belonged to the concerned department, sat-up, took notice and "adopted" our program. It certainly is important to identify the right person/department to talk to and to do your research well. There are already several onlines resources which will help breastfeeding employees push for the establishment of their own lactation program. It is a lot of hard work but if employees persist and couple this with the right attitude, it won't be long before breastfeeding programs and lactation rooms will be established as a norm in workplaces throughout the country.

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