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Lactating Stations in Malls

Posted on October 19, 2021 | No Comments on Lactating Stations in Malls

SM malls prove that they truly “got it all” as they keep their customers’ needs a top priority. Lactating mothers need worry no more as they can combine malling while still providing the much needed nourishment of their babies through breast feeding stations at various SM malls nationwide.

All over the world, a sight of a mother and child totally captivates anyone’s soul. It is proof that an invincible bond truly exists in this world. But, how about a sight of a mother feeding her baby with her own milk in a public place, would that still captivate anyone’s soul? Perhaps yes, but generally speaking, it may be awkward not only for the mother who is just trying to give what’s best for her child and the passersby who just couldn’t help but notice the act.

Breastfeeding is best for most infants. The government, both local and international organizations, are in support of breastfeeding. If only, it can be done more privately. Fortunately, SM Supermalls have come up with a project that not only promotes breastfeeding, but also gives convenience for lactating mothers as well. In fact, out of the 31 SM malls in the Philippines, 22 of them are already equipped with what they call a “Breastfeeding Station”.

It started when SM Supermalls  president Ms. Annie Garcia  bumped into an old friend in her  college years, Dr. Elvira Henares Esguerra who is also the director of Children for Breastfeeding. The two friends innocently discussed how they may promote breastfeeding. The conversation started with just a plan of simple  means on how to publicly promote  the advocacy.

With that simple idea, Ms. Garcia found a potential project out of it. “SM is always looking for new things to improve the mall for the consumers that have patronized us for so many years,” she says. Immediately, she presented the idea to the higher administrators and they loved the project. Ms. Garcia even remembers the enthusiasm from Mr. Hans Sy himself that he even suggested to implement the project in all SM malls in the Philippines.

“When we began we didn’t even have a breastfeeding committee…we began thinking that ‘let’s put up a room, supervise it and that was it’,” relates Ms. Garcia. “But as we thought about it more and more… this is a new project and it really needs proper monitoring,” she continues. Accordingly, the management gathered up and formed structure and organization to solely focus on the breastfeeding station project. Ms. Bernadette Velasco was appointed to head the committee. Ms. Velasco then appointed specific point-persons in each and every SM malls to maintain proper management of the stations. She also continually does research for quality improvement.

Ms. Garcia, who initiated the project also keeps track of the stations. “We have a lot of family people that come to our malls; some of them are handicapped, some are pregnant, some are indeed breastfeeding;’ she says. And that is how she ensures that the customer’s stay in the mall will be as convenient as possible.

“We didn’t imagine ourselves as becoming advocates, we thought of ourselves as the venue for the needs of a mother,” Ms. Garcia humbly explains. SM Supermall’s intention was very simple: to give back to the people who brought them to where they are now. “if there is a way that we can make their stay more pleasant, whether you’re diabetic, whether you’re blind, whether you’re pregnant or a breast feeding mom, we want to do it,” adds Ms. Garcia.

In fact, aside from the breastfeeding stations, the malls upgraded their facilities like the handicapped-friendly pathways and telephone booths. They also have small urinals and cubicles in certain comfort rooms for mothers who bring their sons to the comfort rooms or even dads with their daughters. Their intention is nothing more than for the family as a whole, as Ms. Garcia, says, “SM is all about serving the Filipino family…”

Breastfeeding awareness aside, they are also aware of the diabetes situation in the country. “If there is a society or organization of diabetic people, maybe you can train us. Because then if there’s something that we can be of help to any Filipino member of a family who is diabetic and comes to the mall then we would be happy to learn a few things from them,” says Ms. Garcia.

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