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Infant Feeding During Disasters

Published: November 3, 2020

Infographic showing benefits of breastfeeding and information on how to support breastfeeding mothers during disasters. Text equWhy breastfeeding during disasters matters:
• It cannot be put on ‘hold’ until the disaster is over. It can be impacted if stopped for even a short period of time.
• It protects infants from the risks of using contaminated water supplies during a disaster
• It can help protect against respiratory illnesses  and diarrhea, which can be fatal for displaced families
• Breast milk is available all the time without needing other supplies

Barriers to breastfeeding during a disaster:
• Lack of lactation support, whether it is a new mother, or a mother  who has just weaned a baby
• Being away from home  - displaced or having to relocate
• Being separated from family and other people who usually support the mother
• Lack of privacy, security, comfort, dim lights, and quiet in emergency shelters

Benefits of breastfeeding:
• Reduces risk of ovarian and breast cancer and type 2 diabetes for breastfeeding mothers
• Reduces risk of SIDS, lower respiratory infections, type 2 diabetes, asthma, obesity for breastfed infants
• Breastfed infants have fewer illnesses so their mothers miss less time from work
• There is less trash and plastic waste compared to formula and bottle supplies
• Communities can save $13 billion annually and prevent 1,000 deaths a year by promoting breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of life

How responders can help:
• Ensure access to healthcare providers with lactation experience
• Create safe locations for pregnant and breastfeeding women
• Assure mothers that breastfeeding can provide sufficient nutrition for their babies when other foods aren’t available.
• Keep families together
• Provide water and food for breastfeeding mothers
• Give ready-to-use infant formula in a disposable cup as an alternative of last result

•2011 Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding:
•American Academy of Pediatrics Infant Feeding During a Disaster:
•La Leche League International:

Last Reviewed: November 3, 2020

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