Feature: Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding during calamities
Calamities strain peopleâ€™s physical and economic resources. The recent calamities that struck the country had displaced thousands of families and the aftermath was worse as illnesses began to spread.
During the displacement, infants and young children are the most vulnerable. Having weak immunities, they are the ones who easily get sick in crowded evacuation centers.
Feeding infants and young children with milk formulas in resettlement areas may pose dangers to their nutrition and health status.
First, safe water needed for the preparation of milk formula and for cleaning and sterilizing materials such as bottles and nipples may not be available in the area. Water in evacuation centers may be contaminated that may cause diarrhea, cholera, and other water-borne diseases.
Water should be boiled for at least three minutes if it is to be used to prepare milk formulas. Bottles and nipples should be boiled longer to make them sterile.
This poses a problem: not only regarding the safety of water but also of fuel source, which may also be scarce in evacuation centers.
Refrigerators, in evacuation areas, are hardly available, making milk formulas spoil easily. And in this critical situation, money is tight, making milk formulas out of reach.
Mothers who are under stress may have stopped lactating for a day or so, but this can be overcome with good support. It is a myth to think that because mothers are under stressful situations, they would not be able to breastfeed. They only need support for relactation.
On the other hand, breastfeeding is still the best for babies particularly in this condition. Breast milk is the perfect food for newborns and infants because it provides all the nutrients needed for healthy development.
Today, in families in emergency situations where their basic living infrastructures have been compromised, breast milk provides a safe food for babies. Breast milk contains antibodies that help protect them from common childhood illnesses like diarrhea, pneumonia, and malnutrition.
Moreover, breast milk is readily safe and available. This helps to ensure that infants get adequate sustenance at the time when they need it, even in emergency situations.
Indeed, breastfeeding is a life-saving intervention. It is best for babies in normal and emergency situations. (NCLM/Charina A. Javier/FNRI-DOST S & T Media Service/PIA-Caraga)
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