Friday, July 11, 2008

Infant feeding and disasters

I live in South Florida and our first hurricane of the season was brewing out there in the Atlantic, threatening Bermuda, as it gained force and became a category 3. I've lived in this area pretty much my entire life and have been very lucky to only suffer minimal damage during a hurricane. I've lived through three horrible ones: David, Andrew and Wilma. Wilma hit the closest to home and was actually one of the Top 5 most costliest hurricanes, with damages in excess of $29 billion. At our home we lost power for about a week and were forbidden to even drive for many days. All the trees in my neighborhood were annihilated. We couldn't cook, we lost all of the food in our refrigerator, the stores were all shut down, lines at the gas stations went on for miles, we took cold showers in the dark, etc etc. It was pretty awful, but we were all alive and safe and there was minimal damage to our home, so we couldn't really complain (this was two mere months after Katrina).
Back then I was young, single and carefree and didn't have any kids, so it never crossed my mind how people who rely on formula were feeding their children. Now that I have a son I do worry about hurricanes, but at least I know that regardless of what happens, I'll be able to feed my child!
What did these parents do? I'm sure some were smart enough to stock up on bottled water and formula, but they couldn't sterilize any of the bottles or nipples. What if you're already poor and can't afford to stock up? What if water is in short supply? Once ready-to-serve formula is opened, it has to be refrigerated or discarded after an hour.
When you live in a place where nature can wreck havoc at a moment's notice, disaster preparedness is a must. The risks associated with feeding babies a human milk substitute are only compounded during a disaster. Ah, breast milk: sterile, free, nutritionally perfect for all infants and readily available, even without electricity or water!

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