You Can Make an Impact During World Breastfeeding Week

Published on
Written by Courtney Uyeshiro

So it’s World Breastfeeding Week.  I have been seeing lots of giveaways for breastfeeding moms here in the US and that is great.  But what about the moms in other parts of the world?  The struggling parts of the world.  The parts living with contaminated water.  The parts where moms are often illiterate but still want the best for their babies.  The parts where formula {or even coffee creamer - see below} advertising reaches these moms and conveys that providing milk substitutes, which are then mixed in unsanitary conditions, is better for their babies than the pure milk they produce even if they are malnourished themselves.  

These are the parts of the world where we really should care if the moms are choosing formula over breast.  These are the parts of the world that need education for moms to help them do what is best for their babies. 

On a recent trip to Costa Rica, I snapped these photos in the dairy aisle.  I had been surprised to see a breastfeeding message on a container of dairy cow’s milk.  “Breast Milk Is the Best Food For Nursing” was written in both English and Spanish on all the milk cartons.  Costa Rica is doing a great job of reaching out to moms to let them know that when possible, breast milk is the best thing they can provide their babies, not formula and not dairy cow milk.  

Seeing this positive breastfeeding message made me think back to an article I had read earlier in the year about poor women in Laos who were feeding their infants cans of Nestle coffee creamer mixed with water (to make it last longer), thinking that this was in the best interest of their children. These women were illiterate but saw on the cans images of a mama bear cuddling and potentially nursing her bear cub in her lap.  These moms were trying to do the best for their babies, but did not have the resources to know what was truly best.  Unfortunately these babies got sick and sicker the more cans of creamer they received.  Here, you can read the article: Nestle markets coffee creamer to illiterate mothers who mistake it for infant formula.

Re-reading the article about the women in Laos I came across a link to the International Baby Food Action Network and learned about their work to help fight these scenarios and promote breastfeeding in developing parts of the world.  

Milk It made a small donation, supporting the Global Breastfeeding Initiative for Child Survival.  We hope that as more moms choose to purchase a Milk It Kit we will be able to further support this initiative during World Breastfeeding Week next year.

If you found the story about the coffee creamer babies as horrifying as we did and if you want to donate something toward IBFAN, here is a link to help.  These mommies really do need your support!

Sidenote: Milk It is a company founded to support moms and the milk they make.  We at Milk It recognize that not all moms can produce milk and breastfeed.  We would never judge a mom by her ability to produce breast milk or her choice to breastfeed or to formula-feed.