Posted in Breastfeeding and Childcare

Why mix feeding during a disaster is a very bad idea

This is my third post on this topic and my original post on protecting babies during emergencies contains greater detail but I felt the need to emphasize just a few points.

1. Formula is never safer than breastfeeding, and the dangers of formula feeding greatly increase in situations where families are displaced (natural disasters, war, etc).

2. A mother who begins mix feeding during a crisis situation will most likely continue mix feeding even when the crisis is over.  Mix feeding results in a decreased demand on the mother to produce breastmilk, which results in a decreased supply.  This makes returning to exclusive breastfeeding after the event more difficult and less likely.

3.  Mothers who receive free infant formula may not have to worry about purchasing formula during the time they are receiving donations but once they return to their homes they will have to continue to purchase formula until their infant turns 1.  Few Filipino families can afford to do this without sacrificing other basic needs.

4.  Mothers who are displaced are more likely to prepare formula improperly (dilute the powder) in order to make it last longer.  This puts the infant at risk of malnutrition.

5.  Infants who are formula-dependent require an uninterrupted supply of formula and clean water.  This is difficult to ensure during times of disaster particularly when the duration of displacement is uncertain.   Exclusive breastfeeding ensures that babies have a protected source of nutrition to which they have full access.

Protecting breastfeeding and supporting displaced mothers so that they continue to breastfeed is not cruel.  It is in the best interest of both mother and child. 

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Author:

I'm a trained Pediatrician and Neonatologist and now stay-at-home mom. I am thankful for this opportunity to spend time with my kids. I am a co-founder of L.A.T.C.H. Philippines and devote a lot of my time to breastfeeding support and education. I am also very interested in child development and my children are the happy subjects of my home experiments.

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