Our hearts ache for the people in the Philippines who are facing what is likely the deadliest natural disaster in their country’s history. Here are a few “dos” and “don’ts” for moms who, like us, are looking for ways to help breastfeeding mothers in the wake of this tragedy.
|Image courtesy of Lemuel Cantos|
DON’T donate formula. At times like these, breastmilk is critical to babies because it can protect them from illnesses like diarrhea and pneumonia. While sending formula may seem like a good idea, it can be especially dangerous when clean water is scarce. Formula, or any other babymilk substitute, cannot offer the anti-infective and immunological properties that breastmilk does. Feeding formula to infants in an emergency situation can lead to diarrhea, malnutrition, and further the spread of disease.
DO donate money to an organization that supports breastfeeding in emergency situations. This lets relief officials determine how to use the money most effectively. If you’re looking to donate, UNICEF, Save the Children, and Action Against Hunger are all great choices.
DO use your personal social media channels to encourage others to give to these charities. These organizations work quickly to provide interventions including supporting the initiation and duration of breastfeeding, relactation of breastfeeding for a woman who has weaned her child, and the identification of women who can act as wet nurses and provide breastmilk for infants in need.
DO consider donating breastmilk to US milk banks. While not the best way to help the Philippines, there is always a demand here in the United States and some of these organizations are able to get donated milk to countries in the event of a disaster like this one. Donations also help if and when there is any type of emergency situation in the US. Milk banks in the United States are in short supply. While it is best for a feeding infant to have milk from his or her biological mother, donated milk is the next best option, as opposed to formula and artificial supplements. Premature, ill infants, or infants in need can thrive on human milk because it is full of anti-infective and immune building properties that cannot be replicated in an artificial baby milk substitute. To learn more about donating breast milk, contact the closest chapter of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.