Thursday, July 25, 2013

Breast is best, even during emergencies

Every mother knows that breastfeeding is the healthy choice when it comes to feeding her baby. In fact, experts recommend that all babies be breastfed exclusively for at least the first six months of life.

But did you know that breastfeeding is especially important during disasters?

Breastfeeding is the safest option for feeding your baby during emergencies, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, as clean drinking water and sterilization may not be readily available for formula. Using unclean water for feeding can expose your baby to water-borne diseases such as cholera as well as diarrhea.

Plus, nursing comforts your baby. Breastfeeding increases skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby. During disasters, a mom’s warmth can help soothe a baby in distress. While stress may lesson a mother’s milk supply, breastfeeding helps to reduce her stress, too, says the March of Dimes.

According to the World Health Organization, breast milk contains antibodies that strengthen a baby’s immune system, which can be at risk during severe weather. Even better, breast milk is just the right temperature for babies and can help prevent hypothermia, when body temperatures drop too low. And best of all, breast milk is readily available.

If you must use formula during a disaster, the March of Dimes advises that you use ready-to-feed options that don’t need mixing or water.

For more information, check out the March of Dimes website and download our Get Ready fact sheet for pregnant women and new moms.

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