Why Money Matters

Here are great links that speak clearly to the ways we best support Haitians.

The New York Times editorial:  Teaching Americans What Haiti Needs: Money

Good Intentions Are Not Enough, the straightforward blog from Saundra Schimmelpfennig, an international aid expert formerly with the Red Cross.  Saundra clearly spells out what to do in: Choosing organizations to donate to after the Haiti earthquake.

Local organizations know exactly what is needed and have everything in place to move fast.  They need cash to keep help flowing.

Dominican mothers  are donating milk with the aid.of UNICEF; scroll down to ‘A gesture of generosity. UNICEF, WHO, and WFP issued a press release explaining the need to safeguard breastfeeding.

I am happy to see so much attention to the importance of breastfeeding as a practice that not only saves lives but helps displaced families return to a sense of normalcy.

—  Susan


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Aftershocks and Recovery Efforts in Haiti

In the aftermath of the quake in Haiti, and now a major aftershock, many are confused about the routine response of flooding a country with artificial milk in an effort to save infant lives.  Karleen Gribble PhD (Adjunct Research Fellow, School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney) has lectured internationally on the importance of supporting breastfeeding in the recovery from disaster.  Karleen explains in an online conversation and gives permission for us to share here:

What people who want to help need to know is to whom they should donate money. Believe it or not it is actually quite difficult for aid orgs to get funding for infant feeding projects. Organisations that I am aware of that are doing IFE work in Haiti are UNICEF, Care, Save the Children and Action Against Hunger. They have a huge job!!!!! The amount of donations of formula flooding from the US is truly staggering. I’ve never seen anything like it. If the Milk Bank can pass this info onto people contacting them this would be helpful. If people can tell orgs that they are donating because of their IFE program that’s even better.

The reality that many people find difficult to understand is that in emergencies it’s a matter of making decisions that will result in the fewest possible deaths. People think “there are babies without mothers, we must send formula”- but when conditions are very bad babies that have not had access to breastmilk have died well before any of that formula arrives. So,  when the formula arrives the breastfed babies are breastfeeding, babies are being born. The formula gets distributed and then the babies that could be breastfeeding start dying. The most important way of ensuring that most babies survive is to make sure that every baby born after the emergency is exclusively breastfed. The amount of formula needed to help babies that have somehow managed to survive without breastmilk is tiny in comparison to what arrives.

Karleen Gribble, Australia

When choosing a nonprofit for donation, it’s important to let the organization know its IFE (Infant Feeding in Emergency) commitment is important to you. If you have influence with other relief efforts, you may want to emphasize the increase in infant lives saved when breastfeeding is protected.  To keep up-to-date with issues involving human milk banking, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).

For more on the controversy, you may be interested in Donations of baby formula to Haiti strike controversy, a recent blog entry to the San Francisco Gate’s “The Mommy Files.”

We welcome your own thoughts here.

—  Susan

To learn more about work on the ground in Haiti supporting responsible infant feeding, please visit the organizations listed below, in earlier posts, and with the IFE Core Group.

Earthquake in Haiti

This week’s devastating earthquake in Haiti raises international concern for the thousands of disrupted and displaced families.  Nursing infants and children need special protection that may not be fully understood in the rush to aid.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release emphasizing the importance of “ensuring breastfeeding is continued.”

ILCA issued a press release underscoring the need to protect breastfeeding in order to best protect infants and young children.

The IFE Core Group is an inter-agency collaboration of UN agencies and non-governmental organizations concerned with policy development and implementation.  Member organizations (such as CARE,, an ongoing presence on the ground in Haiti) which support breastfeeding during relief operations, are listed on the IFE Core Group website.

Diarrheal diseases, already commonplace  in Haiti,  increase as sanitation conditions worsen.  Breastfeeding offers critical protection.

Currently there is a free podcast available from GOLD09 addressing the serious health challenges affecting the youngest survivors of natural disasters.  For a greater understanding of infant feeding challenges, you may wish to view (and perhaps share)  “Infant Feeding in Emergencies: Are you ready?” “presented by Karleen Gribble PhD.   This presentation will be of interest to anyone with an interest in public health policy.  Health care providers may wish to attend this year’s online conference, GOLD10.

—  Susan


Nursing Is Normal Project

Isn’t it time we all see nursing is normal?

Nursing is normal in Madison, Wisconsin!

Inside and out, around and about.

Nursing is normal in Charlotte, North Carolina!

Nursing is normal.

The current issue of New Beginnings, discusses the normalization of breastfeeding.  Read more!

—  Susan

How Do We Wean?

While we often think of weaning as the closing of the nursing relationship, there is nothing simple about the experience.  Far from the closing of a door, weaning is a complex passage in the relationship of mother and child.  Weaning begins early in the breastfeeding relationship — when babies find comfort and food away from the breast, when mothers and babies are separated — and continues for months and sometimes years as mothers and babies grow and change together.

Recently at our Extended Nursing Meeting, the subject came up of a product to encourage weaning.  We usually think of products that protect and sustain, not only our milk, but our breastfeeding and mothering relationships.  The introduction of a product to interrupt breastfeeding is at odds with what many mothers recognize as the core of LLL philosophy.  After all, nursing is a relationship.  Weaning may be child-led or mother-led, but hopefully it is not product-led.  As mothers we celebrate our earliest moments of communication and trust with our children at the breast.  We hope that trust will continue.  We hope the last moments we welcome a child to nurse will be worthy of memory.

La Leche League philosophy is based on 10 concepts.  The sixth concept addresses weaning:  Ideally the breastfeeding relationship will continue until the baby outgrows the need. But when will your child outgrow his need?  What if you are being pulled in a different direction?  Is it normal to have ambivalent feelings about nursing?

The LLLI website offers articles that answer some questions and raise others as you explore your own mothering path.  For topics addressing a range of issues from nursing strikes to tandem nursing, visit the wide variety of  LLL articles on weaning. Common questions are addressed in “Weaning as a Natural Process” and “Weaning and Mothers’ Feelings”

You may notice a continuing thread of philosophy.   Mothers know their children.  Children thrive on trust and respect. La Leche League is here to reflect mothers’ experience, report research of interest, and moderate forums for conversation.  But no one knows what is best for your child, or for you, but you.

We hope you will join us at our next meeting, and throughout your nursing season.  Mother in good company!  Our conversation will be richer for your voice.

— Susan

The Normal Course of Breastfeeding

Not so long ago, breastfeeding a child beyond 6 months was referred to as “extended nursing” — and in some circles that thinking continues.  What words do you use to describe your own nursing relationship?  For those of us who continue to nurse, are we “extended” nursing?  Or something else?!

Mothers and children are all exploring the normal course of breastfeeding, even as we take our different paths.  A question that comes up again and again is the language we use when we talk about nursing our children beyond the first year.  On November 12th, our “Extended Nursing” meeting will focus on the influence of language on the practice of breastfeeding —  from birth through the ripening of the relationship and its thoughtful close.

We expect to change our own thinking and begin the new year with a fresh start — a fresh title for our Enrichment Meeting the second Thursday of the month.  What are your thoughts?  If you are nursing a child “of a certain age,” how do you think of this time?  Some of the popular terms include sustained nursing,  full-term nursing, and simply nursing.  What do you suggest we call our meeting?  How do you describe your breastfeeding experience to your closest friends — and to one another?  Bring your thoughts to our November meeting … and feel free to start the conversation here!

— Susan

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Visit the Australian Breastfeeding Association to find the poster featured here and to discover more ways to support nursing families.