Life goes on for survivors of Yolanda. And so does the work of sustaining life for the newly-born amid the rubble.
For mothers, this could mean jugging the maternal mission of breastfeeding and rebuilding the household from scratch.
The gruel demand of the twin tasks can easily force some moms to switch to infant formula to free them from regular breastfeeding.
Senator Pia Cayetano, a breastfeeding advocate thus strongly advised moms to stay the course and not to rely on milk substitute. For one, it is the natural and, therefore, the healthier option. And considering difficult economic conditions, she must be practical enough to continue breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding is best for babies up to two years,” so goes a public service commercial clip. Not only that: Experts are agreed that doing it is also good for mothers.
Sen. Cayetano, in fact, stressed that support for breastfeeding is crucial and should remain an integral part of relief efforts in the aftermath of the super-typhoon, adding that this would help ensure, in the long run, the health and safety of some 4.5 million young children affected by the disaster.
She made the strong pitch in response to various calls to relax government restrictions on milk formula donations meant for nursing mothers and their babies in calamity-stricken areas and evacuation centers.
She said studies and experience in past disasters have shown that the lack of clean and safe water, combined with unsanitary conditions in calamity-hit areas, greatly increase the risk of diarrhea and allergies in babies fed with infant formula.
“A switch to milk formula will be harmful because it would expose infants to the dangers of unclean water mixed with formula, or from improper cleaning of bottles, as clean and potable water is not readily available in devastated communities. It is crucial for mothers to be informed and warned of the dire consequences of improper feeding which is common without access to clean water,” she said.
She stressed: “Additionally, this will wean the infants from breast milk and make them dependent on formula which will not be given for free anymore once the dole-outs have run out. The mothers too will become dependent and would have no more milk of their own once the free supply ends.”[pq]@OfficialSenPia-The reality is most of these babies were breastfed before the disaster. That shouldn’t change…[/pq]
…Breastfed babies should continue to be breast-fed. The danger is, the influx of donated formula will change this. This will be detrimental in the long run,” noted the senator, who authored the Expanded Breastfeeding Act (Republic Act 10028).
It may be recalled that Cayetano also pushed for the inclusion of a provision emphasizing support for breastfeeding in relief efforts under the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act (RA 10121) passed in 2010.
“In evacuation centers, breastfeeding mothers should be encouraged to nurse other babies in need of breast milk. This is definitely safer and healthier than introducing formula milk. Relief efforts should focus to ensuring that breastfeeding mothers are well-fed and taken care of so she can continue breastfeeding her own infant and others if necessary.”