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Relactation/Wet nursing: Relactation in difficult circumstances: rising to the challenge

Author: Krumme B, Case study 17 in IFE - GIFA/ENN Project. Final Report 2003
Year: 1991
Resource type: Case study

Case study 17 in  Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies. GIFA/ENN Project. Final Report 2003

An example of Wet Nursing and Relactation: Ugandan refugees in Zaire

  1. I saw an elderly woman who breast-fed her grandchild, the child of her eldest daughter who had recently died. The grandmothers’ own, last born child was aged between 7-9 years old.
  2. An infant was brought to us whose mother had died, it was already wasted but thirsty and eager to drink…I asked a lactating woman to feed this child in addition to her own since she had enough milk for two.   Initially it was quite difficult to get her agreement. I was told that it was culturally unacceptable as the child was no relative. The priest had to help me to persuade her to at least breastfeed the infant until it would recover and reach normal weight. We also promised her extra food for herself. The next day a young woman was brought to the hospital and introduced as the younger sister of the dead mother. She agreed without any resistance to breastfeed her related child. As far as I remember, this young woman had never given birth to a child before herself. These two women saved the infant’s life. The orphan had to be fed frequently. With every feed it attached first to the aunt’s breast to suck. As soon as the sucking became slightly weaker, the baby was attached to the breast of the other lactating woman to satisfy the baby before exhaustion and frustration… It took at least 2-3 weeks until the young woman was able to fully breastfeed the infant. The two women became quite close to each other... The baby developed well. This young woman managed in spite of the difficult circumstances with the help of her family.

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Krumme B, Case study 17 in IFE - GIFA/ENN Project. Final Report 2003 (2003). Relactation/Wet nursing: Relactation in difficult circumstances: rising to the challenge. www.ennonline.net/relactationwetnursing2

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