World Breast Feeding Week Focuses on Emergency Situations

The Department of Health, Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) and La Leche League (LLL) are joining forces for the first time to promote World Breastfeeding Week, which runs throughout this week. This year’s theme, “Breastfeeding in Emergency Situations” highlights the practical role breastfeeding plays during hurricanes, power failures, water shortages and outbreaks of illness.

Dr. Cheryl Peek-Ball, Medical Officer for the Department of Health said, “Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months is the ideal way of providing young infants with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. In addition, the World Health Organization says breastfeeding passes on maternal immunities, lowers the risk of respiratory disease and offers some protection from influenza.”

Janet Wheelan, BHB Clinical Manager for the Maternal/Child Programme, said, “The possibility of a powerful hurricane striking our island is a fact of life for us. Women who breastfeed don’t have to worry about sterilising bottles or mixing up formula during a crisis when there may be no water or power and breastfeeding during times of stress, such as during a storm, can calm babies.”

Melony Kendell, Accredited LLL Leader, said, “Not only does a mother’s milk provide optimal nutrition for infants during an emergency, it is also cost effective. Breastfeeding can make a huge difference to budgets and families can save thousands of dollars a year on buying formula. Additionally, breastfed babies have lower rates of illness and fewer doctor visits, saving parents even more money.”

A lobby display at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital this week features photos of Bermudian families along with information on how breastfeeding makes feeding babies easier during emergencies.

Women are urged to ask for help if they are having problems with breastfeeding. “With accurate information and a good support network, women can successfully nurse their babies,” concludes Dr. Peek-Ball. For breastfeeding assistance, women may contact LLL at 737-4577, the Maternal Health and Family Planning Clinic at 278-6475 or the Maternity team at 239-1325.

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