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Monday, May 3, 2010

Breastfeeding stations and clinics

In 2006, SM set-up its first breastfeeding center in SM Megamall. SM currently has 24 breastfeeding stations in its various malls nationwide.  In fact, in March 2010, SM even won an Anvil Award of Merit for its Breastfeeding Program. Among the 24 stations, I've had the opportunity of using only the one in SM Mall of Asia.  It used to be located inside the main mall, near the ATMs.  I've used it several times and I really wasn't too happy.  Sure there was a private room, but it wasn't too clean.  Some moms reported that there were cockroaches and creepy crawlies there, although I've never seen any when I was using the room.  The room is quite small and once, I had to share it with another nursing mom, her yaya and her mom.  I was there with Naima and Naima's yaya and it was a tight fit for all of us.  Previously, the glass door was covered with blinds.  But some of the blinds got ripped off so management decided to use gauzy curtains instead - which to my opinion was a big mistake because I could see people lining in front of the ATM trying hard not to look inside the breastfeeding station.  If I can see them, I'm sure they can see me.  
Recently, a new wing in the Entertainment Mall opened - with shops focused on kids and families.  During a visit, I saw a "breastfeeding station and mall clinic" sign.  I was pleased that there was going to be a 2nd station.  But, it turned out, they were closing down the old clinic.  Now, with 390,193 m² of retail space, Mall of Asia is not exactly small.  I'm happy that they have 1 breastfeeding station but was actually hoping that they would maintain 2 - one for each wing.  Plus - what I didn't like about this breastfeeding station is that it is located inside the mall clinic!  Sure there was a nurse on duty all the time and the breastfeeding room was enclosed with walls and a real door.  But before you get to the breastfeeding room, you'd have to pass through the clinic examination area.  Seriously, would you want to bring your baby to an area where there is a possibility for him/her to be in close contact with sick people?!
To give them credit, the room was better furnished than the old breastfeeding station.  There were 2 sofas and some plastic chairs.  Plus there was a clean sink, with thermos.  What I didn't like was that when not in use, the breastfeeding room was being used as a stockroom.  You can see from the photo that wheelchairs, extra toilet papers and boxes are being stored there. 
Also, the new breastfeeding was cleaner.  I told the nurse on duty about my observations and she admitted that the breastfeeding room now was better maintained than the old breastfeeding station because there were doctors and nurses constantly in the room - thus, maintenance cleaned it more often.  
The nurse also mentioned that they had brought up with SM Management  the issue of having a breastfeeding room inside the clinic.  SM Management was non-committal on whether they would be transferring the breastfeeding room to a separate location.  But from the looks of the breastfeeding room and the set-up in other SM malls, I would think that SM Management is planning to combine breastfeeding rooms with their mall clinics permanently.  I hope SM Management will realize the importance of why breastfeeding rooms and clinics should be in separate rooms.  The SM's breastfeeding program is laudable but there just has to be some tweaks to make their rooms responsive to the nursing mom's needs.

17 comments:

ivymarasigan said...

I've tried a lot of breastfeeding stations in several malls when my baby was small. The one in Mega is super sikip. The one in Robinson Galleria looks like a classroom. The one in Market Market is manned by some manongs outside and you have to log in a book before you can enter, and I've seen some cockroaches hanging around too. The one is SM Marikina is inside the clinic. So if the nurse is out, the bfeeding room is closed. The old bfeeding room in SM MOA was super sikip also, and not well-maintained. I guess we just need to be extra careful when using breastfeeding stations. Make sure that your baby does not touch anything, or wipe the seats first before using and make sure you wash hands before and after using the facilities.

Jenny said...

thanks for visiting ivy! apparently, most breastfeeding stations here are not really maintained well. even the one in rustan's makati -- sure, the furniture was really nice but the sofa was made of cloth which didn't look like it had been washed since the breastfeeding room was opened!

Koots & Ichel said...

i've used some breastfeeding stations too,with baby or for pumping milk. Here are my feedback:
*in SM Megamall, too cramped for such a big mall, not private, some dads just peek and the blinds does not fully conceal the room.
*SM Taytay - close cause the nurse in the clinic is on break.
* MOA - since its in the middle of the mall, some family of the nursing mom there are just hanging around even if the mom is through feeding the baby. Since I'm using it for pumping purposes, they looked at me as if to say "why am I there?" I have to explain that I need to express milk. One mom pointed to me that I can use the sink! Duh! I stayed until they got uncomfortble and have to leave.
* Rustans Shangrila - you have to ask for the key, its not well maintained (dust is around as well as soiled nappies) in spite of the pretty fixtures.
* Robinsons Galleria - a lot better in terms of privacy, cleanliness, and size. Though no sink inside cause its beside the Children's bathroom.

I hope SM can do something about their "Breastfeeding station," as they are claiming it to be their advocacy.

Irmee said...

Hi. I used to breastfeed my now 18 months Alexus and we tried the breastfeeding stations in the South. The one in Rustan's Alabang is nice even the lighting, soft but yun nga I'm not sure if clean enough. The Breastfeeding station in SM Muntinlupa is big and the lighting is just right but most of the time it's closed because the nurse is always out. I also have to log in.

Jenny said...

thanks for sharing your experiences ichel and irmee! your comments will surely be helpful to nursing moms who wish to know which malls have breastfeeding stations :D

Style and Relax said...

I didn't know Robinsons Galleria has a bfeeding room. I asked the information recently and the girl said there was no breastfeeding station inside the mall? x.x

Nikki said...

Hi! I'm a former w@wie and chanced upon your blog when I was searching for 'Breastfeeding in SM malls'.

I live in the south, and is very thankful to ATC for having a breastfeeding-mommy friendly Family Lounge. ATC has a better breastfeeding station than Glorietta, in my opinion...

The reason I was searching for articles about SM malls and breastfeeding, is that I went to SM Southmall yesterday evening (Dec 19) to shop with my kids. I thought it will only be a quick stop to SM... After some time, my 7 month old needed his milk. So I went to the 3rd floor (beside Ace Hardware) - searching for the breastfeeding station... It turned out it was under renovation. So I headed to the restrooms instead - to the bathroom dedicated for the disabled. It was locked but the cleaning lady was right outside. I was told, not too politely, to head to the basement, where the temporary breastfeeding station is located, because it was strictly for disabled people only. I told her I couldn't run to the basement at that moment because my baby is already hungry...

In short, I got my way after being told that 'pero kakatukin ko kayo pag may tao na ha...' But I left the stall after 5 minutes, because 2 elderly ladies who did not have canes, nor were they in wheelchairs were already outside the stall...

So right now, I am trying to figure out if I should report the cleaning 'lady' to the building admin or not... I am trying to 'research' if SM truly gives importance to breastfeeding moms, that I should even take the time to report such matter to them...

Jenny said...

Thanks Nikki! Let me see if I can get this to Ms. Berna who heads the SM Breastfeeding Advocacy. SM really does have a lot of inane policies and penalizes personnel who don't follow which is why the cleaning lady was probably adamant that you don't use the disabled room for breastfeeding. Anyway, I still think you should report this to SM as feedback.

nikki said...

I was thinking that the cleaning lady was probably just following orders. But I truly wasn't happy about how she handled the situation.

Thank you Jenny. I would really like to find out what the company's/building's position about the matter truly is.

Marissa Monton said...

I thought they don't have a breastfeeding clinic in MOA. The staff doesn't even know that they have one. They should also put that into consideration.

Jenny said...

they have a breastfeeding station inside the clinic. at the entertainment mall near cosmic kidz.   

Richelle said...

There's also a breastfeeding station I found in Eastwood mall... posted some pics in my blog:
http://drichlist.blogspot.com/2011/10/eastwood-breastfeeding-station.html

Lea said...

There's a new breastfeeding station in Shangrila, its at the 2nd floor beside Crossings department store near the escalators and Nautica. I haven't had time to check it out though.

Chesca said...

The new breastfeeding station in rustan's shangri la mall looks well maintained. They have 4 sofas and a changing station. It can be quite cold but the staff adjusts the temperature when requested.

Khun Concepcion said...

I have a 5 week old baby, and we're just starting to venture out in the outside world. I was googling "Greenbelt 5 nursing station" and for some reason, discovered this blog!

So far I have tried 3 nursing stations: 1) the Alabang Town Center nursing station located in the Family Lounge, you pay P10 which is worth it because the room is serene and private; 2) the nursing/changing room at Mothercare Boni High, sales staff are friendly and accommodating and they don't charge fees for use of the facility (i guess the facility encourages patrons to browse and eventually purchase items ... which we did!); and 3) Rustans Makati 2nd flr female bathroom - tried this years ago with my first baby

Wish the other malls in Ayala would have breastfeeding stations as well. Right now our options to go around are limited to malls/shopping centers with decent nursing facilities. Hope more nursing moms will suggest places that have such facilities!

Jenny said...

thanks for sharing your finds Khun! the mothercare high street is relatively new and we have the la leche league meetings there monthly! so definitely, the staff there are familiar with the needs of the nursing moms :D

Brenda Barrientos - Vallarta said...

I recently breastfed in Trinoma, but i was disappointed because i had to pay Php 10. In fairness, the room was quite large and the chair was very comfortable.  As is turned out, the facility was free for use to Ayala card holders, which i'm not so i had to shell out some coins.  In SM North EDSA, the bf station is also within the clinic.  It's cool and clean but quite small-only to chairs for the mothers.  It's ok, considering that it's free but at one point there were four  of us who were breastfeeding so some had to seat on the low table.  
How i wish every floor has a bf station, so i can truly breastfeed by son on demand.  Once he gets hungry, i have to rush from floor to floor just to get to the station right away.

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