We went to the pediatrician’s this afternoon for Cortez’s monthly check-up, and I expected to be in and out after the routine length and weight check and vaccination. To my surprise, I was stopped at the hospital entrance and asked to surrender the milk bottles I had with me.
Apparently, the #OurLadyOfLourdesHospital (#OLLH), where my kids’ pedia holds clinic, has been accredited by the #DepartmentOfHealth (#DOH) as a mother-baby friendly hospital and as such, cannot have milk bottles brought inside its buildings.
I explained that my 5-month-old son was due a feeding in about 30 minutes and asked if there was a waiver that I could sign. The answer was no.
I was told that I was, of course, free to come to the lobby to retrieve my child’s food at any time and feed him outside the hospital.
I began to seethe.
Now I purposely waited several hours before writing about what I feel about this unreasonable, illogical, stupid and discriminatory directive, in the hopes that my rage somehow dims. It hasn’t.
This mother-baby friendly hospital only welcomes mothers who directly breastfeed their babies.
No, it doesn’t count if you express milk and have your child drink it from a bottle. And God forbid that I actually feed my child formula. Without a doubt, I must be the worst kind of mother there is! I should be grateful they let me in at all!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to question the pros of breastfeeding. I am all for it and have great respect for mothers who breastfeed. I would do it if I could, but unfortunately, my breasts refused to cooperate.
Hardcore breastfeeding advocates can argue until next year about how anybody can produce milk if they only try hard enough, and they may even be right, but the fact remains that one can hardly will one’s empty breasts to produce milk on demand.
I would like to believe that each mother does the best she can for her child, and at the top of the list is making sure her child does not starve.
Yes, direct breastfeeding is ideal, but guess what, ideal is not always doable for everyone.
Ideal is not always doable for mothers who work, and the next best thing may be expressing milk and having their babies drink it from a bottle.
Ideal is not always doable for mothers who, like me, have little to no milk at all and so must supplement with formula which their babies drink from a bottle.
Ideal is not always doable for mothers who, for reasons known only to them and we must respect, choose to feed their babies formula from a bottle.
Ideal is not always doable for mothers who have had double mastectomy, OFW mothers who have no choice but leave their infants, and fathers whose wives died in childbirth.
I can go on and on, but I guess mother-baby friendly hospitals would rather babies starve rather than have them feed from milk bottles.
They wanted me to feed my child outside, like it was something dirty, lest I taint their mother-baby friendly image with my evil milk bottles.
Milk bottles aren’t the enemy here, it’s small minds who think up these blanket discriminatory rules and laws that pass judgment on people.
UPDATE: Apparently, and somebody correct me if I misunderstood, this law under the Milk Code is an old one and it is in accordance to the #WorldHealthOrganization (#WHO) policy under the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes wherein the Philippines was one of the signatories. [Please read: http://www.wpro.who.int/nutrition/documents/docs/wpro_breastfeeding_obstacles.pdf ]
I don’t think anybody is disputing the fact that breast milk is best. It is. But it is also a fact that it is not always doable to breastfeed, directly or indirectly.
I think we can all agree that DOH’s interpretation is extreme. What they should do is strengthen their campaign so mothers can make informed choices, not force everyone to comply regardless of circumstances.
while the sight of his milk bottle is enough to elicit indignant howls from my son and send his body into frantic spasms, he’s more than happy enough to put other things in his mouth.