During disasters, breastfeeding's advantages shine, News article
Author: Brosi HK. St Petersburg Times.
Resource type: News
By Heather K. Brosi, Special to the St Petersburgh Times
In print: Monday, June 16, 2008
Available from: www.tampabay.com/news/health/article626768.ece
As we enter another hurricane season, we must pay particular attention to the health and well-being of infants and young children, as they are vulnerable to serious illness in natural or human-induced disasters.
Because of the increased risk of diarrheal diseases and other infections, the continuation of breastfeeding is particularly important.
Providing infants and young children caught in an emergency situation with substitutes for human milk is extremely risky. The risks associated with bottle and formula feeding are dramatically increased due to poor hygiene, crowding and limited water and fuel. In an emergency, there may be no clean drinking water or electricity, no sterile environment, and it may be impossible to ensure cleaning and sterilization of feeding utensils.
The role of breastfeeding is even more important in emergency situations, where it may be the only sustainable element of food security for infants and young children. A breastfeeding mom does not need to be concerned about a source of nutrition for her infant because she has the perfect milk that does not need sterile bottles or refrigeration.
Women under stress during an emergency situation can successfully breastfeed. Milk release (letdown) is affected by stress, but milk production is not. Different hormones control these two processes.
The treatment for poor milk release is increased suckling, which increases the release of oxytocin, the letdown hormone. These hormones released during breastfeeding promote a sense of well-being, relieving maternal stress and anxiety.
In addition, the security and warmth provided by breastfeeding is crucial for both mothers and children in chaotic circumstances of an emergency. Also, women need validation of their own competence, and breastfeeding is one of their important traditional roles that can be sustained during a stressful situation.
A malnourished woman in an emergency situation will produce enough milk to nourish her baby. Milk production is relatively unaffected in quantity and quality, except in extremely malnourished women (only 1 percent of women). When a breastfeeding woman is malnourished, it is the mother who suffers, not the infant.
Therefore, the solution to helping a malnourished breastfeeding woman is to feed the mother, not the infant. The mother will be less harmed by pathogens than a baby in an unsterile environment. By feeding her, you are helping both the mother and child, and harming neither.
Giving supplements to infants can decrease milk production by decreasing suckling. The treatment for true milk insufficiency is increased suckling frequency and duration.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months, and continuing until 1 year of age and beyond. Feeding at the breast or pumping at least once a day will keep the milk-making system turned on; if a disaster happens, all a mom needs to do is latch baby at the breast to cause more milk to be made.
For the mom who never started to breastfeed, and with a baby less than 3 months old, putting the baby to feed at the breast will trigger a return in milk supply. For the breastfeeding mom with a baby 6 months and older, exclusive breastfeeding will be an adequate source of nutrition until food supplies are restored.
If you have breastfeeding questions or need assistance during a disaster, find an emergency relief worker or health care employee to assist you. The Hernando County Health Department offers free infant feeding courses that instruct moms on proper breastfeeding techniques, how to store breast milk and how to maintain a milk supply.
/Heather K. Brosi is a nutrition educator with the Hernando County Health Department./
For information about breastfeeding, call the Hernando County Health Department's Infant Feeding Support Line at (352) 540-6924.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the cleanest, safest food for an infant is human milk.
• Human milk is nutritionally perfect.
• It is readily available without dependence on supplies.
• It is protective against infectious diseases, especially diarrhea and respiratory illnesses.
• It is the right temperature and helps to prevent hypothermia.
• The release of hormones during breastfeeding relieves maternal stress and anxiety.
[Last modified: Jun 15, 2008 08:03 PM]
More like this
FEX: Practical experiences and lessons learned in using supplemental suckling technique
Breastfeeding in Sierra Leone Following on from the article on infant feeding in emergencies, which appeared in the March 2000 issue of Field Exchange, we wish to add our...
en-net: Maternal malnutrition and breastfeeding
Hi there, I am looking for a good summary with evidence around maternal malnutrition and impact on breastfeeding. Something to answer the question: "does maternal...
en-net: Relactating Exercise
I do want to study more about relactation exercise for mothers who had ceased breastfeeding for long time. And, other is that does a woman who never marriage (never delivered...
en-net: Therapeutic feeding for infant younger than 6 month with HIV positive care giver
In areas where HIV prevelance among pregnant ladies is high , choosing therapeutic feeding modality is a real challenge as provision of F100 dilluted usually is done with...
en-net: Breastfeeding and its benefits
Dear All, this page appeared today under health issues on the BBC News website. I am very interested in knowing your views on this issues that has been raised before mothers...
en-net: Exclusive Breastfeeding of triplets
Dear Colleagues Am working in North Eastern province of Kenya and was presented with the following case: A mother delivered triplets in a hospital and as i was counseling on...
en-net: Calculating and making SDTM from F100 for a premature
Can anyone help me figure out how to calculate the amount, frequency and recipe of SDTM (Specially Diluted Therapeutic Milk) from F100 for a premature? Also which foods can I...
en-net: IYCF Counselling... Is it for post-natal care women only?
Hello Team, We have health and nutrition mobile teams delivering health (IMCI,ANC/PNC,Immunization), and nutrition (OTP) services. IYCF counselling is one of these services....
FEX: Infant feeding in a TFP
MSc Thesis1 by Mary Corbett, Concern, HQ Nutritionist The benefits of breastfeeding are widely-know. In conditions characteristic of most emergencies breastfeeding becomes even...
Resource: Breastfeeding support helps families cope with Hurricane Gustav
www.ilca.org/pressroom/ILCA%20Press%20Release%209-2-08%20Gustav.pdf BREASTFEEDING SUPPORT HELPS FAMILIES COPE WITH GUSTAV As Hurricane Gustav approaches landfall and families...
FEX: Supporting healthy growth in infants in low-resource settings in Mumbai, India
View this article as a pdf Lisez cet article en français ici By Rupal Dalal, Shruthi Iyer, Marian Abraham and Lahari Yaddanapudi Rupal Dalal MD FAAP IBCLC is a...
en-net: IYCF-E and Covid 19: questions from the field
Dear all, in support to the initial exercise supported by Mija, Save the Children is engaging country offices to understand what are the questions and concerns around...
en-net: COVID-19 and Safety of Breast Milk and/or Breastfeeding -Please send all your questions
Dear colleagues Gradually I am getting more questions on the safety of breast milk, breastfeeding etc. in the context of COVID-19. I know that you as health/nutrition...
FEX: Infant Feeding Alternatives for HIV Positive Mothers in Kenya
By Tom Oguta, Abiud Omwega and Jaswant Sehmi Tom Oguta is currently a PhD student of Nutrition at the University of Nairobi. He has worked as a Research Officer at KIRDI...
en-net: Breastfeeding problems and food supplements. Any association?
Why is it in the SFP we find the following as admission criteria: 'Lactating women with an infant - 6 months if they have breastfeeding problems or if the infant is not...
What knowledge gaps are there currently in breastfeeding? What are some of the challenges mothers are getting in practising exclusive breasfeeding, especially in third world...
en-net: treatment of SAM in 2 month old
I am seeking advice on how to best manage this case: 2 month old twins admitted to a stabilization centre in South Sudan. Mother has been unable to breastfeed for 1 month due...
FEX: Letter on relevance of IFE guidelines in developed countries, by Sarah Saunby
Recently, ENN was party to an exchange of questions and discussion between field staff and 'experts' relating to decisions on the use of readymade therapeutic products versus...
en-net: Prevalence of moderate malnutrition in infants
Are there any data on the prevalence of moderate malnutrition in infants and if so how do these rates compare with prevalence amongst 6-59 month cohorts? Marie jogged my...
FEX: Qualitative study of supplementary suckling as a treatment for SAM in Infants
This article summarises key findings of an MSc thesis1 By Natasha Lelijveld Natasha Lelijveld has recently completed her MSc in International Child Health at UCL. She is...
Reference this page
Brosi HK. St Petersburg Times. (2008). During disasters, breastfeeding's advantages shine, News article. www.ennonline.net/breastfeedingadvantagesdisasters