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Unicef Video Update on Haiti and Breastfeeding Moms

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Updated on February 22nd:
Here’s the Unicef Video:

Unicef just published an illuminating account of what’s happening in Haiti to help new moms breastfeed. Click on the link below… and if it shows up in French, go to the top tool bar to translate it into English. Also, there’s a video…see above.



‘Baby tents’ offer Haitian mothers a safe place to breastfeed

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 18 February 2010—Amidst the collapsed buildings and temporary camps of this battered city stand 12 special tents dedicated to providing mothers and their infant children a safe and calm place to breastfeed.

Update on Haiti and Breastmilk Donations

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An update to the question of whether or not to donate breast milk to help victims of the Haiti earthquake…
Last month, Unicef and the World Health Organization discouraged donations of formula. Then several groups, including La Leche League (LLL) and the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) issued an urgent call for breast milk donations. The International Breast Milk Project delivered 500 ounces of milk to the USS Constitution to treat infants on board the ship.
But then there was a backlash. There was a report from MSNBC that the milk on the ship was not being used. Furthermore, TIME magazine reported the WHO and Unicef are discouraging breast milk donations because the mainland of Haiti doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to use it.
So where does that leave things? The International Breast Milk Project is not planning another shipment. And the HMBANA and LLL are now saying that breast milk donations are not recommended:
Donor milk, however, is not a solution for the large number of infants and young children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Members of the public who wish to promote the survival of mothers and babies in Haiti can donate money to the following organizations: UNICEF , Save the Children Alliance, World Vision, and Action Against Hunger. These organizations are using best practice to aid both breastfed and non-breastfed infants. Members of the public can be confident that donations to these organizations will support breastfeeding and help save the lives of babies.
If you want to read more on this subject, visit the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog or Breastfeeding 123.

Breast Milk Donors Needed For Haiti

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Update February 16th: Donated milk not recommended for Haiti. See my post here.
Here’s a press release from several breastfeeding organizations:
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and premature infants in the United States.
This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States will be shipped to the U.S. Navy Ship “Comfort” stationed outside Haiti. “Comfort” is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment and supplies to the “Comfort.” Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric neonatologist, is on board the “Comfort” to coordinate distribution of the milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLL are responding to requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who have recently delivered babies on board the U.S.N.S. Comfort, but an urgent need exists for additional donations.
At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk on land to Haiti infants has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.
Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers’ Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available at the HMBANA website at
Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will be used for both Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to continue to serve sick and premature infants in the U.S. Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants. Financial donations are also strongly encouraged to allow HMBANA, a nonprofit organization, to continue serving infants in need.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency. Relief workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding, and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.
For more information, contact HMBANA at 408-998-4550 or . Additional information can be provided from the United States Breastfeeding Committee at 202-367-1132 (, ILCA/USLCA at 1-800-452-2478 ( or ), or La Leche League at 847-519-7730 (

Haiti and Breastfeeding: Do Not Send Formula

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Update February 16th: Do not send breastmilk donations. See my post here.
Updated January 26:
An urgent call for breast milk donors for Haiti.
Updated January 21: Unicef Press Release:
Unicef has just released a strongly worded press release regarding the Haiti earthquake and breastfeeding. Along with the World Health Organization and the World Food Programme, Unicef says that every effort should be made to support breastfeeding. Furthermore, the agencies say people should not donate either formula (breast milk substitues) or human milk . To read the full release, click here. And here are some excerpts:

Most mothers initiate breastfeeding in Haiti, and the majority of infants less than six months of age were at least partially breastfed prior to the earthquake. At this stage it is critical to encourage and support mothers to initiate breastfeeding immediately after the delivery, exclusively breastfeed up to six months and for those with infants below six months who ‘mix feed’ to revert to exclusive breastfeeding. Nonbreastfed infants are at especially high risk and need early identification and targeted skilled support, including re-establishing breastfeeding (relactation)…
In accordance with internationally accepted guidelines, donations of infant formula, bottles and teats and other powdered or liquid milk and milk products should not be made. Experience with past emergencies has shown an excessive quantity of products, which are poorly targeted, endangering infants’ lives. Any procurement of breast milk substitutes should be based on careful needs assessment and in coordination with UNICEF. Human milk donations while safe when processed and pasteurized in a human milk bank also require fully functioning cold chains. Such conditions are not currently met in Haiti and human milk donations cannot be used at present. All queries and any donations that do appear should be directed to UNICEF, the designated nutrition coordinating agency in Haiti.

Updated January 21:
From the New York Times:

(A) widely circulated blog post, “No One Needs Your Old Shoes: How Not to Help in Haiti,” was written shortly after the earthquake by Alanna Shaikh, an international relief and development expert working in Tajikistan. It suggested giving money, not goods; going to volunteer only if you have medical expertise and are vetted by a reputable organization; and supporting the far less immediate task of rebuilding Haiti…
Ms. Shaikh gets particularly worked up about misguided donations of baby formula. “A woman who is breast-feeding is given a can of formula when clean water to mix it is unavailable and her baby needs the support of her immune system more than ever,” Ms. Shaikh said.
“Baby formula,” she said firmly, “does nothing for babies in the middle of a disaster and can even be fatal.”

Updated Jan. 19th: More information about Haiti and supporting breastfeeding mothers and young children…
From the Motherwear Blog, there is a post, Breastmilk Donations for Haiti and Shortage of Donor Milk in the U.S.

You may recall the theme of the 2009 World Breastfeeding Week…”Breastfeeding: A Vital Emergency Response. Are You Ready?” Timely, yes. Ominous, scarily so. But never has the need for breastfeeding been so great. The International Lactation Consultant Association is “urging all health care providers and rescue workers to include breastfeeding support as a vital part of disaster relief and humanitarian aid efforts.” They are also discouraging donations of infant formula since this can increase illness and disease in an emergency.

And finally, more from the breastfeeding advocacy group, Best For Babes.
Angela at Breastfeeding123 has a good overview of why breastfeeding is so important in times of emergencies. She writes:
The devastating earthquake this week in Haiti again brings to the forefront the issue of infant feeding in emergencies. You might recall how dangerous it is for relief efforts to send artificial baby milk to disaster sites due to a lack of sanitary water, inadequate supplies, the increased risk of deadly respiratory infections and diarrhea in non-breastfed babies, and poor access to medical care.

And Tanja at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog writes about how The World Health Organization issued a press release saying that “ensuring breastfeeding is continued” is one of the five urgent health priorities for Haiti.

Original Post:

The news from Haiti is horrible. Just look at these pictures on the front page of The New York Times website.
The NYT has a list of agencies that are accepting donations.
Also, I got an email from New York State Senator Liz Krueger that has this suggestion:
Text “HAITI” to “90999″ to make a $10 donation.
2025 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
(800) REDCROSS (733-2767)
In times of man-made or natural disasters, breastfeeding is critical. I’ll be watching the news and breastfeeding websites to see if there’s anything that develops on this front.

Buy a Book to Support the American Red Cross in Haiti

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My publisher, Quirk Books, is donating 20% of their sales to The American Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti. Now, until January 31st, you can help out by buying a copy of “Mama Knows Breast”, or any other title from Quirk. Click on Quirk’s website,, or or