The Breastfeeding Handbook for Physicians, 3rd Edition, is the definitive resource on breastfeeding initiation, maintenance, support, and advocacy. Jointly developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), this must-have handbook features the most important and up-to-date developments in breastfeeding practice, research, policies, and outreach guidance, assembled by an expert physician panel. Available for purchase at https://www.aap.org/breastfeeding-handbook-for-physicians-3rd-edition-paperback/
19: Breastfeeding Issues During Disasters
A disaster, whether natural or human made, often deprives people of food, clean water, heat, shelter, clothing, medicine, and other necessary resources. Newborns and infants are among the most vulnerable population, as they are dependent on adults to feed them to be able to survive and thrive. Needs during recovery efforts will vary, but safe newborn and infant feeding is among the priorities to address. Access to potable water, clean feeding utensils, and electricity may often be limited in a disaster setting, requiring caregivers to make adjustments in their feeding preferences and methods so as to protect the health of their babies. Caregivers may or may not have the option to continue to use formula, but if they do it will require additional precautions to ensure safe newborn and infant feeding, according to the emergent circumstances. In these situations, human milk is highly recommended because it provides the cleanest and safest way to feed a newborn, infant, or young child in most situations. Breastfeeding provides readily available nutrients without dependence on supplies, is sanitary, requires no electricity or refrigeration for preparation or storage, and is delivered at the right temperature, without the need for warming or cooling. In addition, it keeps the newborn or infant in contact with the mother, which prevents hypothermia from exposure to the elements. Breastfeeding is protective against infectious diseases, especially diarrhea and respiratory illnesses, of which newborns and infants may be at increased risk during a disaster because of their underdeveloped immune systems, which are unable to fend off microbial infections in an effective manner. The security and warmth provided by breastfeeding is crucial for both mothers and babies in the chaotic circumstances of an emergency. Moreover, breastfeeding allows the mother to provide for her baby independently, despite the stress and sense of helplessness that can occur during a disaster.