Sent to you by moya via Google Reader:
In light of the recent earthquake in Haiti, I am re-posting (with editing) something I wrote for World Breastfeeding Awareness Week 2009. May it be my small effort towards educating people about the importance of breastfeeding the babies in Haiti at this time. My gratitude and admiration go out to all the mothers in Haiti who have already held a stranger's baby to their breast and saved a life. A Few Important Things To Know * Breastfeeding plays a vital role in emergencies worldwide. * Active protection and support of breastfeeding is needed before and during emergencies. * Mothers, breastfeeding advocates, communities, health professionals, governments, aid agencies, donors, and the media need to be informed on how they can actively support breastfeeding before and during an emergency. * Collaboration between those with breastfeeding skills and those involved in emergency response is imperative. * Children are the most vulnerable in emergencies – child mortality can soar from 2 to 70 times higher than average due to diarrhoea, respiratory illness and malnutrition. * Breastfeeding is a life saving intervention and protection is greatest for the youngest infants. Even in non-emergency settings, non-breastfed babies under 2 months of age are six times more likely to die. * Emergencies can happen anywhere in the world. Emergencies destroy what is 'normal,' leaving caregivers struggling to cope and infants vulnerable to disease and death. * During emergencies, mothers need active support to continue or re-establish breastfeeding. * Emergency preparedness is vital. Supporting breastfeeding in non-emergency settings will strengthen mothers' capacity to cope in an emergency. [Source] When we think of emergencies we think of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, war, and famine. The kinds of events that bring Red Cross volunteers to the frontlines, handing out food, water and formula and directing stranded individuals to shelter, providing the basic necessities for survival. But during emergencies, chaos is everywhere. There's often no electricity, running water,or sanitation facilities, and while bottled water is good for drinking, more water is required for washing and sanitizing. Infants who must rely on formula are put at the highest risk when dirty bottles risk contamination and disease. No matter where one lives, mothers need to chose to breastfeed in order to ensure their babies health, safety and survival. For young children, another component to survival is staying close to a parent. Breastfeeding is the best way to ensure a child is nourished, as well as feels safe, loved and protected in the arms of its mother. Why do you think even grown-ups cry for their mommy in the most frightening moments? We all need to be touched and cared for by someone who cares. Children trust their parents to provide that reassurance. Sometimes, another woman who is lactating can step in and nurse a lost or orphaned child. A police officer in Jiangyou, China breastfed nine babies after the May 12th, 2008 Sichuan earthquake which killed more than 69,000 people. She was proclaimed a hero. Read more of the story here. Breast milk can also be used to wash with and treat scrapes and other small wounds. When medical aids are scarce (or hospitals collapse) breast milk can be a precious commodity. Mothers with abundant supplies of breast milk can count their lucky stars in the time of crisis.