breastfeeding, children, nursing, Parenting, parents, snow, survival, USA weather, weather

Breastfeeding in extreme weather… What difference does it make?

Living in the USA, you see every day some sort of extreme weather in some parts or another, from east coast to the west coast.  The most recent one of all is of last few days, the snow near the great lakes in northern New York.  It is devastating for the people involved in these natural disasters.  People trapped in their homes and more dangerously, in cold vehicles up and down the highways for up to 40 hours in some places.

On the other end of the scale, during the summer months there were masses of tornadoes that demolished towns and cities. Leaving destruction of emotional and physical life beyond comprehension. Destroying homes, families and businesses. Yet people still survive in these places. It’s their home. It’s what they know.

Unfortunately, due to climate change, these freak of weather events are becoming the norm, and not in a good way. Extreme weather is reaching the most quiet and calmer corners of the world. Even to the people who are NOT used to these harsh conditions. So why am I writing this blog? What has breastfeeding got to do with this?

I am a proud mother of six beautiful children. All of which I have breastfed for different lengths of time for various reasons. I am currently nursing my youngest, who is now eight months old. As I was watching the weather channel and thinking about all those people trapped in their cars in the snow, literally buried alive under all that snow, it got me thinking about the breastfeeding benefits if you was caught in any extreme conditions.

I am a big breastfeeding advocate, but in no way ever do I think of a formula feeding mother to be any less of a person for her choices to feed her baby. People make choices based on what they know and circumstances in their life and that is okay. I just personally choose to breastfeed. That was the right choice for me. I do believe however that in a serious state of emergency, a mother might have a better chance to save her infant in extreme situations if she was to breastfeed.

Imagine this. You are traveling to be with family for the holiday season and on the highway you are caught in a white-out situation. Before you know it, your car is covered in snow half way up to the windows and you have no way out. You call 911 and you wait for help to arrive. You have this helpless bundle in the car seat who is depending on you for his or her survival. What do you do?

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A breastfeeding mom can offer comfort and support through nursing and body warmth will keep baby warm and comfortable. As well as that. The baby will have on tap all the food and nourishment it needs to survive. Mom is a walking incubator for baby with warm, fresh milk available until they get rescued. How is this different to a formula fed child? Yes, a mother might have two or three bottles in the bag, and might even carry a car bottle warmer to heat up the bottles. But what if as these people in the news, trapped for 24, 36 or even 40+ hours? How any bottles is needed then?

Breastfeeding mothers will also provide antibodies for the child to prevent them getting sick in the cold and possibly damp conditions.  Her body will naturally asses the situation and will produce whatever that infant needs to survive.  That will include any milk fats or extra vitamins that may be required in the milk.

I know that so many women choose to feed formula for various of reasons, but if I could encourage even one mother who lives in these areas to “consider” or just even “try” to breastfeed if it is possible for them to do so, in the event of these type of natural disasters to occur, that they are the best possible position to ensure survival. Yes, this is a strong word, survival.  Life or death.  It is like something you see out of a movie or something.  But these type of weather we are currently experiencing is becoming more dramatic and real, and sadly more often.

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Can you even possibly imagine what these people are going through right now?  We see so many images of these snow, but does anyone even stop to think of the children here?  And the babies that require emergency supplies?  Do any of us carry an emergency kit in our cars for such an event?  To either help themselves or to help others in distress? I know we should, but sadly, most of us don’t. We all think it will never happen to us and that we will all be ok.

I feel a chill right to my bones to even imagine being trapped in my car with my children in a white-out blizzard, trying to keep everyone alive and warm. Especially if there is an infant involved who does not eat solid food.  What are you to do when you are alone out there in a small confined space of a car? Help is on the way, but it wont be immediate.  You can call or text as much as you want, if it is a white-out situation, no helicopters can come and no one can see where they are going to come by snow-mobiles.  Its a matter of sitting, waiting and praying that you all survive.  I feel strongly about this particular situation, maybe because I am a nursing mother?  The maternal instincts are strong to make sure your babies survive?  I do not know for sure, but it pains me to watch the weather of all these helpless people needing help and people know they are there, but no help can get to them.

We need to normalize breastfeeding and save more lives every day. If you are pregnant or know of someone who is about to have a baby.  Or a mother who just needs support to keep going with her breastfeeding.  Reach out and help them. Encouraging words mean everything. Families mean everything and too many families do not help one and another.  Reach out and help normalize breastfeeding today.

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