Do not donate infant formula to Haiti
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|Fri, 01-15-2010 - 3:38pm|
For anyone who is thinking of sending infant formula, especially powdered infant formula, to Haiti to help with the earthquake relief, please do not do so it can cause more problems then it solves. As well weaning as you may think your being there risks to improper distribution and use of infant formula in disaster situations especially in third-world countries like Haiti. It is better to donate food and clean water for the nursing moms to consume or money donations to reputable groups like the Red Cross that are aware of the risks of improperly distributed infant formula in disaster situations. The following article the explains the risks of sending emergency infant formula to impoverished countries suffering from a major disaster like the Haiti earthquake pretty well.
Myths that put babies at risk
There are several common beliefs about infant feeding in emergencies that contribute to problems in the field.
Myth: Stressed or malnourished women cannot breastfeed
That milk supply is adversely impacted by stress or that trauma will cause a mother’s milk to ‘dry up’ are common myths. These beliefs may be held by health professionals, aid workers, individuals affected by the emergency, by individuals in donor countries and by mothers themselves and their peers. These beliefs can result in mothers requesting infant formula from relief staff and in donors wanting to supply infant formula.
The truth is that psychological stress does not impact milk supply but there are other factors associated with emergency conditions that may lead to the conclusion that it does. Milk ‘let-down’ (the release of milk from the breast) may be slower than usual when a mother is acutely stressed, which can result in her saying that she has ‘less milk than usual.’ Reassuring such mothers that they are only experiencing a delay in let-down and that they are still capable of making enough milk for their baby will help them to regain confidence in their milk supply and continue breastfeeding. In addition, in the upheaval of an acute emergency, babies may be fed less frequently than usual, which can have a negative impact on mothers’ milk production. However, this need only be temporary and with more frequent breastfeeds the milk supply will quickly increase.
Mothers who are concerned about their ability to breastfeed their babies need encouragement and reassurance, which can be provided via the safe spaces and peer counselling already described. Breastfeeding can actually help mothers to cope better with the stress they are experiencing because it suppresses the release of stress hormones and involves close physical contact and the release of relaxant hormones that promote mothering behaviours. Thus, breastfeeding can not only assist mothers in their caregiving but also help to limit the emotional damage of trauma.
It is also commonly believed that women who are malnourished are unable to make enough milk for their babies. However, in all but the most extreme cases, malnourished women continue to make milk. If a mother’s condition is limiting her milk supply, ensuring the quality and quantity of her food rations as well as ensuring that she has enough to drink will help her to recover and enable her to feed her baby. By feeding the mother, you also feed the baby.
Myth: Large amounts of donated infant formula are required in emergencies
Governments, community groups or individuals may send uninvited donations of infant formula. They do this because they want to help and they think that large amounts of infant formula will be required at the site of the emergency. Unsolicited donations often arrive in enormous quantities in emergency areas. However well-meaning, these uninvited donations of infant formula are problematic for several reasons.