This article is also available in Italian.
Following the earthquake in Abruzzo (Italy) I feel I must mention the breast-feeding in emergencies, treated very thoroughly by several groups including MAMI (Maternal Breastfeeding Movement Italian), WABA (World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, namely the Alliance Global operations in favor of breastfeeding), IBFAN (International Baby Food Action Network), WHO, etc. …
The WABA organized the World Breastfeeding Week, for the week from 1 to 7 August 2009, whose main objective is to focus attention to the important, indeed vital, role of breastfeeding in these situations by endanger the health and survival of the population, now growing up all over the world (earthquakes, cyclones, etc.)..
Children are particularly vulnerable in emergency situations. Quoting some figures of the WHO, not in emergency situations, children under 2 months of age, who are not breast-fed, are 6 times more at risk of death. Imagine instead what happens in emergency situations! Infant mortality can be from 2 to 70 times higher than the average for diarrhea, respiratory diseases and malnutrition, and breastfeeding will become a life-saving intervention.
The lack of knowledge about breastfeeding, lack of support in such situations and the donation of milk and feeding bottles are the most common problems that threaten the breast-feeding. We need to be prepared, by informing ourselves and others. It would be important that the government established a group of specially trained to give support and aid in breast-feeding in emergencies.
For these reasons, the IBFAN Italy, with many associations including MAMI, AICPAM (Italian Association of Professional Lactation Consultant), Italy Leche League, ACP (Cultural Association Pediatricians), have launched an appeal against the proposed anti-crisis in which the Italian Government provides, among the actions in support of low-income families, the reimbursement for the purchase of artificial milk and diapers, to families with children from zero to three months of age. The reasons are well exposed in this letter http://www.nolattegratis.altervista.org/, 20 January 2009.
Already in 2004 the WHO had prepared a guide based on 10 principles for feeding infants and children in case of emergencies where it encourages a controlled use of artificial milk and teats.
We come to the more practical side. On the site, www.allattiamo.it, we find a guide of breastfeeding in emergencies. It would be better to say “breastfeed again” and “breastfeeding induced”:
In an emergency situation may arise where there is no milk powder. It will be useful to think that your region is full of women who are potential producers of milk. It seems incredible but each woman who gave birth, she can breastfeed again, and all women with normal mammary gland can induce the production of milk from their breasts, even if they have never been pregnant.
Is a bit easier to breastfeed again if you have already had children, that induce lactation if you have never been pregnant. This is for physiological and psychological reasons. If you recently been pregnant you should have more glands that produce milk and can produce more milk of a woman who has never passed from the process of pregnancy, with the consequent increase in the milk glands. Already the process of breastfeeding automatically produce an increase in the number of glands.
When your baby begins to suck at your breast empty, it is not important if you are the mother of the child or not, this causes your breast to produce hormones that are responsible for the production of milk. You can have exactly the same effect, squeezing the milk from the breast by hand. Even if you or the father of the child, gently handled the nipple and rolled between two fingers, until it stands, for a few minutes many times a day the breasts begin to produce milk. This requires a little more than the normal act of love. If a mother is preparing for an adoption, for example, took some time for this preparation, and she can does this exercise at least twice a day, for example, when she dress and strips.
When the baby attaches to the breast, his mouth, the gums and jaws, they produce enough stimulation to begin the production of milk, provided that the child is willing to stick to the breast.
To breastfeed again, usually requires 1 to 7 days until the milk arrives, and can pass other 2-6 weeks before the mother is able to breastfeed exclusively breastfed.
The induced breastfeeding may take longer.
To this I add only one thing: “what is wonderful and extraordinary nature!”