Last October 15, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Visayas and greatly damaged Bohol and Cebu. Response for relief efforts immediately poured in.
Powdered milk for babies were donated by well-meaning groups. One of them was a Church-related organization. However, our law, specifically Executive Order 51, regulates donations of milk during emergencies. Violations of EO 51 has been reported in evacuation centers.
Breastmilk is still best for babies, specially during emergencies. When disaster strikes, water usually becomes scarce. In Bohol, potable water is one of the primary problem. Unclean water is dangerous for babies. Formula milk needs water. If it is scarce, you cannot feed the baby. If the water is unclean, you cannot feed the baby. Breastmilk is the best option for babies during crisis situations. Popular beliefs that mothers cannot produce milk during stressful situations are not true. Mothers can still produce milk as long as they keep breastfeeding babies. Breastmilk is still the best response during emergencies.
What churches can do, if they want to feed the babies?
First, the church can help find expressed breastmilk and donate it to evacuation enters. There are milk banks in most government hospitals. There are also mothers who express their milk and give the "excess" milks to these milk banks or to other organizations.They can also help find volunteer "wet nurses" to help feed breastmilk to babies. Wet nurses can be from among their members or from breastfeeding mom groups.
Second, the church can encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding. The church can partner with breastfeeding counselors to help educate mother how to properly latch the babies. The church can set-up lactation stations where mothers can breastfeed their babies confidently. This area can also be a venue where the church can teach the benefits and the advantages of breastfeeding infants to mothers and expectant mothers.
Last, feed the mothers. As long as the church can feed nutritious food to mothers to keep them healthy, the breastfeeding mom can sustain the nutrition needed by babies (especially those 0-6 months).