Archive | Breastfeeding Around the Globe

Does Breastmilk Neutralize HIV?

Written by Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC

Photo by DFID – UK Department for International Development via Flickr

As an IBCLC, I’m always thrilled when a new study comes out and affirms what I already know about human milk – that it’s amazing and we’re constantly learning something new about it.

Last summer, one of the first classes I took toward my Master of Public Health was Introduction to Epidemiology. Because it was online, class discussions were held to a strict standard – our professor required us to back up any claims with peer-reviewed evidence.  No matter what the topic was, I did my best to bring it around to breastfeeding, often to the chagrin of the other rising students of public health, who learned quickly just how much they didn’t know about breastfeeding. Naturally, no class about epidemiology (according to Merriam-Webster: the study of the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases in a population) would be complete without discussions of HIV, but the topic of HIV and breastfeeding wasn’t one I ever needed more than an elementary understanding about, given the population I serve as an IBCLC.

A classmate remarked that while breastfeeding might be the best thing to do for most mothers in most parts of the world, in nations where the prevalence of HIV is high, only those mothers with access to highly-active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) were advised to breastfeed. She had worked with a population that was not advised to breastfeed their babies, and was frustrated by the fact that access to uncontaminated water (both for mixing formula and for cleaning feeding vessels) was nearly as difficult as access to the HAART drugs – making minimization of all risk impossible for these babies born to HIV+ mothers. I had read that, for HIV+ mothers, exclusive breastfeeding, rather than mixed feeding (breastfeeding plus formula) was the safest way to feed her infant, perhaps due to the protective effect of SIgA and other human milk components on the infant’s gut (shown by reduced incidence of transmission in the exclusively breastfed groups in studies cited below). However, a newly-released study offers another explanation, one that adds to the “wow factor” of human milk: antibodies in the milk of HIV-infected mothers actually help neutralize HIV itself.

The study by Friedman, et al. at Duke University in North Carolina, U.S.A. is part of ongoing efforts to develop a vaccine against HIV. Researchers isolated an immunological component of colostrum of HIV+ mothers – HIV-specific B-cells, and noted that they neutralized the virus.

The World Health Organization states:

Mothers known to be HIV-infected (and whose infants are HIV uninfected or of unknown HIV status) should exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first 6 months of life, introducing appropriate complementary foods thereafter, and continue breastfeeding for the first 12 months of life.

Breastfeeding should then only stop once a nutritionally adequate and safe diet without breast milk can be provided (WHO, 2010.)

In many developing nations, the criteria “nutritionally adequate and safe” are not possible to meet; therefore, exclusive breastfeeding remains the most protective method of feeding an infant, even one with an HIV-infected mother; the risk of illness or death from causes related to the replacement feeding methods are significant in these areas of the world. Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States mirrors this, but presumes the availability of replacement feeding that is acceptable, feasible, affordable, sustainable, and safe.

While it could be part of the explanation for why the vast majority (over 90% in some studies) of exclusively-breastfed infants of HIV+ mothers do not contract the virus, the discovery of HIV-specific B-cells in the colostrum of HIV-infected mothers is not yet the “green light” for exclusive breastfeeding for all; however, it offers promise toward understanding and hopefully, gaining the upper hand on HIV transmission rates not just for babies, for entire at-risk populations.

Friedman, J., Alam, S. M., Shen, X., Xia, S. M., Stewart, S., Anasti, K., Pollara, J., et al. (2012). Isolation of HIV-1-neutralizing mucosal monoclonal antibodies from human colostrum.

World Health Organization. (2010). Guidelines on HIV and Infant Feeding.

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Breastfeeding, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

Diana Cassar-Uhl, IBCLC and La Leche League Leader, enjoys writing to share breastfeeding information with mothers and those who support them.  In addition to her frequent contributions to La Leche League International’s publication Breastfeeding Today, Diana blogs about normalizing breastfeeding in American culture at http://DianaIBCLC.com and has been a guest blogger at Best for Babes and The Leaky Boob.  Diana can be found lecturing at breastfeeding education events around the United States.  She is pursuing a Master of Public Health, and upon graduation hopes to work in public service as an advisor to policymakers in maternal/child health and nutrition.  Mother to three breastfed children, Diana recently retired after serving as a clarinetist on active military (Army) duty in the West Point Band since 1995.

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Mother to Mother Peer Support in Penang, Malaysia

Written by Debz Christiansen-Lee and Connie Mooi

Penang, Malaysia is hoping to shake things up!

2011 Dec monthly gathering

At the end of 2007, a group of mothers were encouraged, by a local Lactation Consultant, to take advantage of a free, three-day breastfeeding course, given by WABA. Ten of us took part and gained technical knowledge as well as taking part in practical demonstrations.

We were so empowered by our new found knowledge, and I personally couldn’t work out why everyone didn’t know all this anymore, that we decided to form a group to help inform anyone and everyone who would listen.

Penang MMPS Graduates 2007

We named ourselves MMPS (Mother-to-Mother Peer Supporter) and our first meeting was on March 1, 2008. Since then we have met every month on the first Saturday of the month. This is no mean feat as we all give our time and energy voluntarily. Our passion and determination is what keeps the group going.

These meetings are a chance for pregnant ladies and new mothers to meet, share experiences and ask questions or talk about problems, to be answered by all.

We especially encourage pregnant ladies to attend and join our support system. Our core group contains mothers with training and/or experience. We also have a Lactation Consultant as our medical advisor so we hope we can attend to any issues raised. Once in our network, support and advice can be reached so that new mothers do not feel alienated or overwhelmed. We’ve even made visits to hospital, confinement centres and homes to aid new mothers in latching-on methods and generally making the mother feel her struggles will be worth it.

We have a Facebook site, an email account and a blog. This way we hope ourselves and other mothers can give advice and support in a timelier manner.

Flash Mob

We’ve attended a number of functions, to promote breastfeeding and every year we host a “one-minute simultaneous breastfeeding” event for World Breastfeeding Week (1st to 7th August). In 2011, for WBW we held a “virtual one-minute simultaneous breastfeeding event” via the internet and then later in the year we held a public one.

The reason behind the delay of the public event was that we had been working very hard with the local Government and got backing to launch a new campaign called “Make Penang Breastfeeding Friendly” (MPBF). This has become a parallel, ongoing project, but is one we are proud to know was born from our little MMPS group.

March 2012 Breastfeeding Talk by Dr. Balkees

So what’s the future of MMPS? We hope to continue our monthly gathering and give support to the MPBF project. The most important things for us have always been the same: give information on breastfeeding, offer breastfeeding advice and show support to mothers, mothers-to-be and anyone else who has an open mind(husbands, mothers, mothers-in-law etc).

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Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part Five

What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?

Yasmin – The most memorable experience as an IBCLC is when I, as coauthor, conducted first time independent research in which we explored the experiences of women on reasons in initiating and maintaining breastfeeding in the urban area of Karachi, Pakistan. For this, I feel very humble. After attending the ILCA conference in 2008, a spark was ignited in us and we were able to initiate this small scale research project in our country.  To continue that learning and to help mothers continue exclusive and optimum breast feeding practices, I have chosen to complete my master’s thesis on the topic of exploring father’s and health care provider’s perceptions for breast feeding practices in Karachi, Pakistan.

Yasmin Mithani, IBCLC, BScN, RN, RM

Senior Instructor, AKUSONAM

Robin -A few months ago, I met a mother at one of my weekly breastfeeding support groups.  She had a 3 week old baby boy, who was having some major challenges latching on.  When I went to her home for a private consultation, her story began to unfold.  Her son’s tight frenulum had been clipped in the hospital and, since then, had refused to latch for more than a few minutes.  She was exclusively pumping, to preserve her milk supply, and her son was receiving bottles of breast milk in place of breastfeeding.  This sweet mother was so determined, yet was at a loss for how to bring her baby back to breast.

Within about 15 minutes, I removed the mother’s breastfeeding pillow, elevated her feet, and asked her to recline.  Next, I rested her son on her chest and waited for him to root around.  Her son bobbed around until he found her nipple and began to suckle.  The mother was in disbelief that her son could latch on his own and tears filled her eyes as she heard gulp after gulp.

Well, after I left, her son went back to his fussy ways and would only latch and breastfeed intermittently.  The mother was devastated.  I recommended that she wear him skin to skin and to spend a day in bed with her son, nursing whenever he showed signs of hunger.  I felt so badly for this mother and baby, as I knew her son was capable, yet they weren’t in sync at the moment.

Two weeks later, the mother walked through the door of my support group and gave me an enormous hug.  After having spent an entire Saturday cuddling with her son, gently refusing to give him a bottle, he finally figured out that he could get all that he needed directly from the breast.  They had been exclusively breastfeeding for 4 days now and they couldn’t have been happier.  I was so incredibly proud of this mother…for her perseverance and her willpower.  She continues to inspire me to this day.

Robin Kaplan, M.Ed., IBCLC

Co-Editor, Lactation Matters Owner,

San Diego Breastfeeding Center www.sdbfc.com

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Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part Four

What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?

Meena Sobsamai  – My most memorable experiences I have had working with a mother and her child in the hospital, in the support group or even on the phone, are the ones where we can see that the easiest cases, and the most difficult ones, are made to feel ‘normal.’  Our responsibility is to keep normal as norm and to help difficult situations to become much easier and make it back to ‘normal.’ Two of these important responsibilities are caring about birth and breastfeeding.  I always say ‘relax, you can do it and we’re here to help you’.

One of those moments that has been very rewarding and made me feel proud to be an IBCLC, and a parent educator, is when I see the breastfed baby’s eyes after he/she gets a good LATCH and his/her mother smiles while her baby is breastfeeding.  For me, my heart feels big and I feel high like the endorphins have elevated my mind with achievement. It’s more than words can say.  I’m sure you love it as well and would love to make it happen again and again. For IBCLC, it’s my honor to have this and I’m so glad to hear the  young nurses  run to me after my talk or lecture saying that ‘You’re my idol.’ Thank you, my dear, you’re also my drive to make it happen.

Meena Sobsamai Nurse-Midwife,IBCLC , Grad.dip in Childbirth Education Lactation

Clinic Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital

Childbirth&Breastfeeding Foundation of

Thailand IBLCE Co-ordinator for THAILAND

 

Tomoko Seo -Recently I was invited to speak on breastfeeding at a meeting for pediatricians in a city 750 km (460 miles) away from my hospital. I talked on breastfeeding basics that pediatricians should know. When I was answering questions, a young female pediatrician raised her hand and told her story. Although I did not remember her, she had, in fact, given birth in my hospital and I had checked her son at the well baby clinic. When she asked me at my clinic about how she could continue breastfeeding after she returned to work, I informed her that she could express her milk and ask the nurse to give it at daycare. Soon after that, she moved to the city where I was invited. It was a coincidence to meet her again. She told the audience that she was very happy that she could breastfeed her son for more than one year while she was working. I was very pleased to hear her story because not only had I been able to encourage a first time mother, but I also helped create a pediatrician who experienced happy breastfeeding. I believe it is useful to make breastfeeding-friendly physicians to help mothers to continue breastfeeding. This is one of my strategies.

Tomoko Seo, MD, IBCLC, FABM, is a pediatrician, who is working in a private maternity hospital and a pediatric clinic in Japan. She certified as IBCLC in 1999 and served as the president of Japanese Association of Lactation Consultants (JALC) from 2001 to 2003. She is a member of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. She has translated various documents and books on breastfeeding into Japanese. She has served as Conference Chair of the annual breastfeeding seminar for physicians sponsored by JALC since 2005. She works as a lecturer at breastfeeding conferences as well as a clinician caring for mothers and babies.

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Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part Three

What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?

Bryna – When I was still interning- I had the experience that would change me deeply- I was working at the lactation clinic and it was a busy day. Sometimes we accepted walk-ins. We had three women on the couch in the front waiting for help, and a woman in the appointment room already. So I went out to the front and led a three woman latching session- it was pretty funny! “Okay- get your positions, aim your nipple to the roofsof their mouths, one, two,  three…latch!”

Alright, it wasn’t quite that well orchestrated, but it was close! Only one of the women still had trouble- her son refused to latch. He just laid there with his mouth wide open! I worked with her weekly at first, and then almost daily, for six months. At the end of six months, one day during a home visit, her baby latched right on!! We both had to stifle our screams of joy and relief- we didn’t want to scare the baby! Best moment of my career so far!

Bryna Sampey became board certified in October, 2010. She began her career path in much the same way many women come to the profession- by having a baby. She went to Sonja Massey, RN, BSN, IBCLC’s free breastfeeding support group in Monterey, CA to get help with her four day old’s nursing- and fell in love with what Sonja was doing for families. Her first question (and it’s still her question today) was: “Why don’t more women do this?” Sonja took Bryna under her wing, and guided her through the process, step by step, first aiding her to become a Certified Lactation Counselor in 2007, and throughout many whirlwind weeks of internship full-time, finally to the IBLCE exam. Bryna has a special passion for helping alternative families, and families with children who have special needs. Also a doula, her private practice, Doula My Soul,  focuses on lactation home visits, support, education, classes, and care from birth through weaning.

Denise – My most memorable experience is one that was vicariously enjoyed. As an educator I love to hear from students about how they applied what they’ve recently learned to a consultation.

This particular ‘vicarious experience’ was a story from a community midwife who was studying towards being an LC while working as a volunteer in a 3rd World country. Mary had recently completed a course with us on the premature infant. In a small village she found a mother with week-old twins trying to squeeze milk from her breast into one twin’s mouth, saying they couldn’t suck.  Mary wrote “My heart was frozen” when she saw the twins. Their gestation was unknown but birth-weights were 1600g and 1700g (3.25 – 3.5 lb) and weight now at 1 week of age was 1000g and 1100g (2.2 – 2.4 lb). Also, she reported the infants were so cold she was surprised they were still alive.

Mary sprang into action with the knowledge she’d just acquired. She helped the mother hand express her breastmilk and cup-feed her infants, who took the milk well. She put the infants into kangaroo care with their mother for many hours until their temperatures became normal. Mary had not heard of either cup-feeding or kangaroo care before her studies. These two actions saved the lives of these infants. With lots more support for the young mother from Mary the twins thrived.

I felt so proud to be a part of this wonderful story, both helping the student gain knowledge she’ll use all her professional career,  and ultimately being a part of saving two lives.

(Note: student’s name changed to protect her privacy. All details available on request.)

Denise Fisher, BN, MMP, IBCLC
Director, Health e-Learning
denise@health-e-learning.com

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Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part Two

What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?

Judy: One of my most memorable experiences as an IBCLC was providing Lactation support in Addis Ababa while working as a volunteer with SIM Ethiopia.

A poor Ethiopian mother with high blood pressure, an under-grown baby and a third world setting spells perhaps, a poor outcome and maybe even death for someone in this family.

This was not this mother’s first high risk pregnancy as she’d had twins 8 years previously down south in Ethiopia (one twin weighed .8 kilos and the other 1 kilo) and successfully breastfed them both without supplements.  However, the new baby, without need for breathing help, was being kept in the NICU at a big referral public hospital in Addis Ababa and separated from the mother until there was a space in the kangaroo care ward. So the family decided that it was time for them to come home with some support.

They came home when the baby was 1.4 kilos and the mother was able to self-express breast milk into the baby’s mouth when the baby tired of breastfeeding.  She fed the baby every 2 hours day and night and practiced kangaroo care in their very poor, modest but clean home with 3 other children.  We weighed the baby weekly on my dining room table and both baby and mother thrived (all free of supplemental formula.)

I have worked with SIM Ethiopia (an evangelical mission group that’s been here for almost 100 years) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for 6 years. I have had a number of positions here including helping manage an obstetrical unit at a Korean Mission Hospital and helped open a neonatal intensive care unit there that focused on kangaroo care. I also worked for 2 1/2 years as lactation and feeding specialist with Cure Ethiopian Children’s Hospital with cleft lip and palate babies managing the nutrition and feeding issues of over 200 babies through their palate surgeries; all of these families were required to use breast milk as medicine. Now I’m doing private lactation support and back to work issues for Ethiopian and expatriate women living in this country. It’s a privilege to be here.

Judy Norman, RN, MN, MPH, IBCLC, SIM Ethiopia

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Memorable Moments as an IBCLC – Part One

What has been one of your most memorable experiences as an IBCLC?

Maya and Theresa in Moscow

Maya: At the 2008 ILCA conference, I sat at the same table as Kathy Parkes one day for lunch. I was reading a book about breastfeeding in Russian. We started to talk and Kathy encouraged me to get more information about breastfeeding support in my former home. I started looking for information on forums and talking to different people. We exchanged information. That was how the idea was born for me to take a trip to my home-town of Minsk.

Theresa: We make quite a pair, Maya and I. She was raised in Belarus, but lived most of her adult life in Ohio. I was raised in Michigan, but lived most of my adult life in Moscow, Minsk and Kiev. It took just a few letters and one brief meeting for us to realize our shared vision – to foster the exchange of information and resources with Russian-speakers who are passionate about breastfeeding. Maya’s first visit to Minsk and Moscow in 2009 brought together a few dozen like-minded women.

Maya: I saw how many breastfeeding supporters had experience and knowledge breastfeeding their own babies, but how limited was their access to evidence-based information. The information provided by many doctors and nurses was very poor.

Theresa: After Maya’s presentation, for the first time I really understood what ‘IBCLC’ meant. I was amazed to discover that I’d accumulated enough hours as a peer counselor to sit for the 2010 exam. With Maya’s encouragement, I sent in my application. We shared a room at the ILCA conference in San Antonio. I applauded as she received two awards – Each One Reach One, and Above and Beyond. A few days later, she stood outside the room as I sat the exam.

Maya: That first year, I was the IBLCE Coordinator for 4 countries where the Russian-speaking potential candidates lived. Only Theresa and Sandra Lase (Latvia) took the exam. I was so proud that they both passed. I visited Moscow a second time in October 2010. That time, there were more than 100 participants from 43 cities, representing five countries.

Moscow Lactation Library

Theresa: The next step was to work on how to bring the exam to the Russian-speaking consultants. We worked hard to establish an exam site in Moscow and get the Russian-speaking candidates ready to take the exam in English. You can’t imagine the Skype sessions! Maya was tirelessly answering questions for the dozen women preparing for the exam. The consultants in Moscow met regularly for “lactation English” lessons, using lactation textbooks donated by MILCC, book publishers and private donations.

As the results were being posted, we all gathered around our computers – scattered across multiple time zones and continents – to hear the results. In the end, we had quite Skype celebration: 12 new IBCLCs! A total of 8 in Russia, 1 in Belarus, 1 in Ukraine and 2 in Latvia. Some had scored in the 80-90 percentiles. Even the complaints of naysayers, who opposed the introduction of the exam in Russia, could not dampen their sense of accomplishment.

Maya in Moscow

Maya: This time I get to see Moscow in the spring. For the 2012 conference in Russia, Jack Newman will speak to an expected crowd of 170 this April. It’s so nice to see that the local associations of consultants are growing and dreaming bigger every year.

Theresa: Now that my family has moved to New Zealand, I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit my dear friends and colleagues next. But, this experience has taught me that distance really isn’t an issue with modern technology. Maya and I will continue to offer our support and encouragement – now on three continents!

Maya Bolman lives in Cleveland, Ohio. She was born and raised in Minsk, Belarus.
Maya has been an IBCLC since 2001. Currently she works at Cleveland Clinic
Hillcrest Hospital as the lactation consultant as well as in a private
pediatric practice. Maya started working with breastfeeding supporters in the
Former Soviet Union countries back in 2008. She made two trips to Moscow, Russia
and Minsk, Belarus to conduct seminars about breastfeeding in 2009 and to
present at the First Conference of NFCA (Natural Feeding Consultants
Association) of Russia in 2010. The highlight of both trips was meeting many wonderful and talented women who are very passionate about breastfeeding. Maya has three wonderful children and a very supportive husband. 

Theresa Yaroshevich  first came to Russia in 1994 to teach English for “just one year” and left 17 years later with a Russian husband and three bi-lingual children. Her experience giving birth in a Moscow ‘birth-house’ inspired her to become a peer counselor and eventually an IBCLC. Theresa founded the 200-member Moscow Mommy Milk Meet-up (Russia) & a smaller group in Minsk, Belarus — both of which later became the first LLL groups in those countries. Her favorite part of working in a multicultural context is savoring how motherhood can be at the same time unique and universal. As a trailing spouse, she has organised 5 relocations in 4 countries in 6 years. Her children are currently learning to run barefoot in New Zealand, and hope to master the Kiwi accent.

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IBCLCs Make an Impact …Its time to celebrate!

On March 7, 2012, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) globally will celebrate their 11th official Annual IBCLC Day. Although it’s not a public holiday, we urge you to take the time to plan a celebration with your colleagues, friends or within the facility where you work .

This year’s IBCLC Day theme, IBCLCs Make an Impact, highlights the positive, far-reaching impact the expertise and care of an IBCLC have on the health of mothers, babies, families and communities as presented in ILCA’s newest position paper, “Role and Impact of the IBCLC.” This paper is a free download to members, or a small cost from the bookstore. Also, take some time to check out ILCA‘s website and the IBCLC Day products. It’s not too late to purchase some of these useful products.   They are limited and are selling fast. Order today online to ensure it arrives on time and avoid disappointment. Or submit and order by fax or mail, using the IBCLC Day Order Form.

For ILCA members, we have several colorful resources available to download from the Members Only section of the website, including: Free certificates and editable certificates posters, proclamations, press release and many more.

So, start planning your celebration today to recognize that ‘IBCLCs, make an impact’ in your area and to help spread awareness of our Lactation profession!

Be prepared…plan to send your free eCard to your colleagues today, organise a lunch, morning or afternoon tea celebration, start baking a special cake and use the very cute free Cake art. Purchase a gift from the ILCA bookstore to say thank you to your IBCLCs! Check out all of the other great ideas on the ILCA website www.ilca.org  while you’re there.

ILCA and IBLCE co sponsor this special IBCLC Day and thank Genevieve Becker, this year’s author of the materials.

An IBCLC Day Activities Report can be uploaded to share with others on ILCA’s website.

IBCLCs Day celebrations begin this week with a special feature of ILCA’s Lactation Matters Blog.

This is our inaugural IBCLC Day Lactation Matters blog and we have contacted IBCLCs around the world to share a memorable experience of being an IBCLC with us.

We would love to hear how you celebrated your special IBCLC Day or how your organisation recognised you and your profession.  Share your story of your celebrations, include any photos, and email to   lactationmatters@gmail.com today.

Ok it’s up to you… Plan the date, order your gifts, share your story, activities and photos with us!

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How Do You Plan To Celebrate IBCLC Day?

IBCLC Day is March 7, 2012!  Whatever setting you work in and where ever you are in the world, as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant you assist families to make a difference for their infants and young children.

IBCLCs Make an Impact! Use this day to raise awareness and celebrate your value.

The International Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA) web site has several resources for you to use and share as we celebrate our profession and the breastfeeding support and education we provide for those in our communities.

Looking for ideas on how to celebrate IBCLC Day?  The ILCA website hosts a press release, certificates for IBCLCs and Healthcare Providers, and a fabulous list of celebration ideas!  ILCA members also have access to additional IBCLC Day flyers, banners, and a graphic email signature.

How do you plan to celebrate this important day? 

Please share your ideas in the comment section to help inspire and celebrate your colleagues.

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Breastfeeding During a Disaster – Typhoon Washi

Written by Crystal Karges, DTR, CLEC

There is nothing more significant or essential during the occurrence of natural disasters or catastrophes than maintaining breastfeeding between a mother and her nursing baby.  The number of emergency situations occurring world-wide that have affected mothers and infants has increased over the last several years. This can prove to be both challenging and difficult as families who have survived such unpredictable incidences are often displaced from their homes and have suffered the loss of family and property.  Additionally, the incredible stress and anxiety resulting from experiencing such a trauma can undoubtedly be enough to sever a mother’s desire to continue breastfeeding. Perhaps the most susceptible victims in the repercussions of such calamities are infants, thus increasing the need to breastfeed during emergency situations.

Recently, residents of Cagayan de Oro City in the Philippines suffered the disastrous effects from Typhoon Washi, leaving countless families without homes or shelter and claiming many lives.   Amidst this tragic situation, mothers have regained hope by continuing to provide nourishment for their babies by sustaining breastfeeding.  One mother in particular, who survived the flashflood along with her husband and six-month old, shared of her decision in continuing to breastfeed her baby during this chaotic event: “I don’t feel shy or embarrassed breastfeeding in the evacuation center.”

Efforts from organizations such as UNICEF, have worked to promote breastfeeding during emergency situations, such as the devastating Typhoon Washi, by establishing breastfeeding areas within evacuation sites and conducting counseling for mothers to encourage continued breastfeeding or to assist with re-lactation.  Promoting such practices, along with the recommendations from ILCA (International Lactation Consultant Association), is critically important in ensuring that infants affected by these disasters will have adequate nutrition, as well as immunological protection.  IBCLCs, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, can play a crucial role in humanitarian relief efforts to areas that have suffered natural disasters by implementing these necessary recommendations.

Though disastrous situations cannot be predicted, knowing the essentials on infant feeding in emergencies feeding can be life-saving.  Continue reading here for more information on ILCA’s Position of Infant Feeding in Emergencies.

What has been your experience in counseling the nursing mother during an emergency situation?

Crystal Karges, DTR, CLEC

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