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Breastfeeding a Relief for Storm Victim

Breastfeeding a Relief for Storm Victim


Leonie Mosen from Miranda in the Firth of Thames is very pleased to be breastfeeding her daughter Bella. Leonie, who lives in a remote country area with four children including three month old Bella was without phone, power and running water following this week’s severe weather.

“I couldn’t imagine how I would have coped if Bella wasn’t breastfeeding,” said Leonie.
“The phone line was down and the power was cut off which meant the pump for water wasn’t going.  I had my cell phone but couldn’t charge it.  There are two old bridges between where I live and the nearest shops and I didn’t know if the road would even be open.  I was out of cash and low on petrol, so was reluctant to try driving into town in case the power was out there too and eftpos and petrol pumps weren’t working,” Leonie said. “We felt very isolated and anxious.”

Leonie attended her local Big Latch On event in Thames on Friday, held annually to celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Leonie shared her story with Thames La Leche League Leader Carolyn Driver-Burgess. Ms Driver-Burgess said, “Leonie’s situation shows how important it is that babies are breastfeed. You never know when you might be cut off from services that we usually take for granted. This week’s weather has placed many families in crisis but any breastfeeding babies would be well provided for just by being with their mothers.”

This message is reinforced by La Leche League nationally. “A breastfeeding mother and baby can manage being isolated for several days. A mother’s milk may be the only safe food available for her baby under these circumstances,” said La Leche League Director, Barbara Sturmfels.

“Even babies who have been weaned may be able to resume breastfeeding if formula feeding is not safe in a crisis,” said Ms Sturmfels, “Any mothers in this situation are encouraged to hold their babies skin to skin and to suckle frequently – every two hours. A mother’s milk supply will increase gradually and the younger the baby the more rapid the establishment of a sufficient milk supply. The baby’s health needs to be monitored carefully over this time and the mother encouraged to keep going.”

“We tend to think of emergency situations that put infant feeding at risk as happening overseas, with all the news stories about tsunami, earthquakes, war and famine.  But New Zealanders are also at risk of natural disasters such as floods, storms, earthquakes and volcanoes.  Breastfeeding provides food security for babies, the most vulnerable members of our population, and is potentially life-saving when access to neighbours, shops, electricity, phone services and reliable water is disrupted.”

“Any mothers facing infant feeding crises caused by the severe weather that has hit New Zealand this week are urged to contact La Leche League for help and information on breastfeeding,” said Ms Sturmfels, “Contact numbers are on our website or under La Leche League in the phone book.”




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