Emergency Preparedness Month – How Breastfeeding Plays a Role

Lactation consultant Cheryl Coleman join us on the blog today to remind us of the importance of breastfeeding when it comes to disasters.

September is Emergency Preparedness Month and breastfeeding is certainly a part of being prepared for any emergency, be it due to natural disaster or conflict.   Infants and children are most vulnerable to the problems of diarrhea, pneumonia and under nutrition which are frequently seen during and following a disaster.  During disasters there is often no safe water source or way to clean feeding bottles and utensils making formula feeding much more of a risk.  Breastfeeding helps assure that infants and young children get the best nutrition and even some immune properties for protection during and following the emergency. 

The World Health Organization supports the efforts of hospitals and healthcare workers to assist new mothers with breastfeeding, re-lactating, and increasing breast milk supplies during a disaster with the use of formula as the last resort.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a flyer entitled “Infant Nutrition During a Disaster, Breastfeeding and Other Options” available on their website www.aap.org.  In it they state “The cleanest, safest food for an infant is human milk” and they provide information for supporting breastfeeding and the provision of breast milk during any crisis.  Breastfeeding as important as it is at all times can be especially important when disaster strikes.