Thursday, June 28, 2012

Breast is best

Yesterday, Iskashitaa attended the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program Quarterly Meeting.  Lori and Danielle represented the group at the morning breakout session on health services for refugees, where they heard from U of A's Dr. Jessie Pettit and from an AZ Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) representative.  Both organizations encourage new refugee mothers to breastfeed, rather than formula-feed, their infants.  Commercial advertising touts baby formula as "more nutrient-rich," "better for your baby" than breastmilk.  Formula can look like the progressive, upscale option for refugee moms trying to start new lives for their children in America.  But in reality, mom's breastmilk is invaluable for her baby's health.  Here's why:
  • Colostrum, or early breast milk, provides essential nutrients and antibodies that a baby needs right after birth.  (This is why colostrum is also called "liquid gold"!)
  • Breastmilk is easier for infants to digest:  Babies who drink formula are over 100% more likely to have stomach problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Mom's breastmilk changes as her infant grows, providing the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein at each stage in a baby's development.
  • The cells, hormones, and antibodies in breastmilk protect the baby from disease.  Infants who are formula-fed are at higher risk for:
    • necrotizing enterocolitis (affects the gastrointestinal tract)
    • lower respiratory infections
    • asthma
    • obesity
    • Type 2 diabetes

The take-home message:  Educate refugee mothers that "breast is best!"  Organizations like WIC are working to educate refugee moms that here in the US, you can breastfeed in public!  You can ask your employer for breaks to pump breastmilk - and employers are legally bound to allow them. 

Like Iskashitaa, WIC is empowering refugee women to seek what is best for them (and for their children!).  For more information, see:

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