In an effort to quell the amount of breast milk coming into Haiti, spokesman for the American Red Cross, Eric Porterfield, says, don't send any breast milk, "I’m 100 percent sure we didn’t ask for that.
" While everyone is sure that breastfeeding advocate groups along with well-meaning mamas are just trying to help the breast milk donations to Haiti are causing more of a problem then providing help. According to reports, "The international Emergency Nutrition Network has asked one group, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, to retract a press release this week that issued an “urgent call” for breast milk for orphaned and premature infants in Haiti, saying the donations contradict best practices for babies in emergencies." Which is what I thought of when I saw all of this breast milk donation talk pop up. In a previous post here I wrote at length about why women can and should breastfeed during a crisis
. In fact during World Breastfeeding Week 2009
the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), and breastfeeding advocates sought to dispel common misconceptions and myths surrounding breastfeeding during emergencies, because crisis or not, breastfeeding is best. The WABA notes that when emergency relief teams come in with formula and bottles babies suffer and it's also not as healthy for mamas.
Breast milk donations also result in problems related to transportation, screening, supply and storage and create an “unfeasible and unsafe intervention,” according to a statement from the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, or OFDA.
In any case, I'm sure you've seen posts around the web calling for milk donations but unless Haiti specifically asks, it's best that we allow the mamas there to breastfeed. If you'd like to help Haiti you can send money donations which will be better used. Breast-Milk for Haiti: Why Donations Are Being Discouraged
Learn more about why breast milk is not a useful donation at this time.