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The SM Breastfeeding Issue: UPDATE

December 9, 2011

I got a call from Berna Velasco, the Director for the SM Breastfeeding Program. Here are the points of our conversation:

  • SM does not and will never have a policy of disallowing breastfeeding in public in SM Malls.
  • The breastfeeding stations are a courtesy extended to mothers who wish to breastfeed their children, but they are also a symbol that SM is a supporter of breastfeeding anywhere. We both agreed that they are much like the special parking slots reserved for PWDs. Would you require a PWD to park ONLY in the designated parking area and nowhere else?
  • There is no policy or directive given to staff and security of SM to approach mothers who are nursing in public places and ask them to proceed to the breastfeeding room as a requirement.

We are meeting on Monday to talk more about the matter, as well as discuss SM’s reorientation and awareness programs for the followingย  year. Updates to follow!

Great news right? Go breastfeeding!

Oh, a few more personal points:

  • It is not my place as a breastfeeding counselor to consciously manipulate and impose my own comfort level of discretion on a mother. If it is her concern and she asks for tips on how to discreetly nurse, I will do so. Feelings and discomfort of others are something to be handled differently, and goes below our goals to 1) feed the child, 2) support the mother. I am hoping we’re all mostly mature enough to understand that. There has been so much that occurred between the time when public nursing was accepted to these times of altered norms and values that we have a lot of ground to cover before people accept that mammary glands are what they are. I hope someday seeing nursing women in public becomes the norm again. Do you imagine a world where people would be offended by the sight of a formula-feeding mother? I can’t but who knows? It might happen.
  • To all the trolls commenting about ogling mothers nursing, please do approach and ogle me when I am nursing because I would love to slap you with a lawsuit for acts of lewd conduct and sexual harassment. Those hiding behind fake accounts, you only become significant when you use your real name and face. Before that you are nothing but a loser and a coward, not just online, but I highly suspect, in real life as well.
28 Comments leave one →
  1. Bessie permalink
    December 9, 2011 3:47 pm

    Good job Elai! Just wondering where those security guards got their instructions in the first place. Most guards follow policies blindly, and it could have been a case of misinterpretation on those particular guards’ part (especially the one at Megamall), but I really doubt they were acting on their own.

    • Eliza permalink
      December 9, 2011 3:59 pm

      I know right? Berna and I agreed that their directive may have been misinterpreted by someone and translated according to that person’s own personal views and convictions. She agreed that if that is the case, of one person spreading that kind of thinking to others, then it should be addressed . Looks like this whole hulabaloo will lead to better things for the breastfeeding advocacy.

      • Breastfeeding Mom permalink
        December 11, 2011 12:15 pm

        It could also be that some customers complained what they thought of as ‘indecent exposure.’ We still have a long way to go in terms of people’s acceptance and support of breastfeeding in public. Good luck to all!

      • December 11, 2011 8:46 pm

        I so agree. With a customer complaining I can imagine the guards telling the mother to go to the breastfeeding stations in an effort to make everyone comfortable. Perhaps this issue/situation should also be addressed in the reorientation.

      • Eliza permalink
        December 11, 2011 11:44 pm

        Thanks for this insight, guys. I’ll bring it up tomorrow.

  2. December 9, 2011 3:48 pm

    so glad that SM will take necessary action for this…! hope all goes well in the meeting! altho i myself haven’t really been able to fully breastfeed my son (due to medical reasons), i am in awe of how many mothers are becoming more and more aware of the benefits of breastfeeding/breastmilk thanks to counselors and advocates like you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Eliza permalink
      December 9, 2011 4:08 pm

      Diane, your effort was still commendable. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good job, mama!

  3. Glaiza G. Tominio permalink
    December 9, 2011 4:01 pm

    Hi Mommy Eliza!

    This is indeed good news. But before we become too happy, do they have a written policy that they do allow moms to breastfeed anywhere? They can just deny it, and I’m afraid it would be a “SM word against a poor security staff’s word”. Denying can be too easy.

    • Eliza permalink
      December 9, 2011 4:10 pm

      I don’t want to turn this into a blamefest. I myself am happy that SM acknowledged that reorientation is needed and will undertake the steps to make sure this never happens again. Let’s look forward!

  4. December 9, 2011 4:36 pm

    hooray! i myself haven’t experienced that kind of treatment in the sm malls that i’ve breastfed in public. but it’s good to know that they’re doing something about what happened, especially since i’ll be having a newborn soon who would be nursing on demand where i may be. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Eliza permalink
      December 14, 2011 10:32 pm

      yey!! Go for it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. December 9, 2011 5:24 pm

    Great news mommy eliza! I’m glad to see them do something about it. Keep us updated!!

  6. Gretchen permalink
    December 9, 2011 5:25 pm

    Usually its the “lalake” who are more uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public places. Silly minds. I usually get those big stares fr0m men when im breastfeeding.

    • Eliza permalink
      December 9, 2011 6:09 pm

      Actually a few of the comments came from women! So I think it goes beyond a gender thing.

    • Breastfeeding Mom permalink
      December 11, 2011 12:19 pm

      It’s sad that they only see breasts as sexual, and not for its most useful, God-given purpose of nursing a child. It’s what has happened in our ironic culture which is a cross between conservative (for nursing in public) and permissive (with breast exposure for titillating in magazines and tabloids).

  7. Gretchen permalink
    December 9, 2011 7:15 pm

    I’ll check the two SM malls from my area.. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. December 9, 2011 8:22 pm

    I think those who feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding in public are those who never had the chance to breastfeed their kids.

    Thank you Eliza for sharing your update with us and making us aware of how people are reacting and accepting breastfeeding. I truly believe that all mothers who want to breastfeed should be able to breastfeed their babies on demand.

  9. December 9, 2011 10:47 pm

    Yey! Moving forward to the next step. A friendly advise:

    Dear SM:

    PLEASE improve your Breastfeeding stations and make them more conducive to breastfeeding! It will totally defeat the purpose of being “pro-BF” if the stations are not well-designed for the comfort and convenience of the mom and baby.


  10. December 10, 2011 12:56 am

    This is such a great news. It may not be big but it’s a start. Re-orientation for ALL their personnel is a must.

    Thank you Eliza.

  11. December 10, 2011 1:27 am

    Great news! So relieved that they are not brushing us off. I’m glad that they are going to do something about it.

  12. Maricel permalink
    December 10, 2011 6:02 am

    Congrats to the mommies who took it upon themselves to see this thru to the very end! Breastfeeding mothers everywhere are grateful : ) Go, go, go breastfeeding : ) Our effort to feed our children in the best possible way is truly something worth fighting for!

  13. Ethel permalink
    December 10, 2011 7:09 am

    That’s great news indeed! I especially liked the personal note part too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. risa martir permalink
    December 11, 2011 10:34 am

    thank you eliza, paola, noemi, nona.. as well as to the ones you’re doing this for and who inspire you. good luck on monday =)

  15. risa martir permalink
    December 11, 2011 10:42 am

    o also, may i add..
    when u discuss with SM on orienting the guards/ movie theater guards/ or any roving guard,
    when they inspect milk coolers (with breastpump paraphernalia) to pls trust the mom that it’s not a lethal weapon (i don’t like my pump/milk being exposed or touched like an object of curiosity).. but when my husband carries the cooler, even before it gets opened, he just tells the guard– “Gatas. breast milk” and the guards let him through and don’t even bother opening.
    thanks =)

  16. December 11, 2011 11:14 am

    Thanks for the update!

    And on a personal note too, there are so many things that can upset people like stuff we smell, words we hear and things we see – but we’ve all learned to live and let live with them anyway. Why should something like breastfeeding seem so offensive to the public when it should be one of the most natural things a mother ought to do for her baby?

  17. December 13, 2011 1:25 pm

    this is good news!
    I was very shocked when I read about this “scandal” because I too have seen the BF stations in SM malls and was impressed with there pro-BF advocacy. I have never nursed publicly or privately in any mall as I have yet to bring my little one out, But I had plans of nursing on the go.
    I hope this issue will be resolved not only in the malls/s in question but numerous others (also, not only SM malls).

  18. Sharmaine May permalink
    January 29, 2014 2:46 am

    Enormous thanks for this! i have a 3 month old boy and Im gonna bf him anywhere. Though I still prefer to cover up, im still not gonna be budge by anyone for bfing in public.

  19. grace permalink
    May 23, 2014 10:31 am

    Omg! I have been also told by sm’s guard that public bfeeding isnt allowed there.. and this was on dec 2013.. so, nothing changed?

    I was already DISCREETLY feeding my baby upon entering their premise.. the guard even asked me if I am nursing (so it was really discreet), then told me so of their policy.. I asked the sm info desk staff about it and she confirmed to me what the guard said.. I felt horrible.. damang dama kong nabastos ako.. but then I continued nursing my baby.. who are they to stop me? Lest I know im not bfeeding for public view, I knw how to be discreet, but still I felt HUMILIATED, until now..

    I hope that sm would act appropriately on this matter, not just on denying what they are really into.

    sm lanang davao/dec 2013

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