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Why breastfeeding mothers request and use donated infant formula in refugee camps?

This question was posted the Infant and young child feeding interventions forum area and has 8 replies. You can also reply via email – be sure to leave the subject unchanged.

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Charlotte Verstraete

midwife

Normal user

5 Apr 2017, 19:33

I'm a midwife and i work often in a refugee camp in Belgium. I want to know why these breastfeeding mothers always request formula feed when they have a good breastfeeding? I want to write a paper about it and i don't find anough literature about this topic. Who can help me?

Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

6 Apr 2017, 20:22

I can't give you any academic or general information but when I was in Dunkirk, the mums told me they wanted to fill their babies with formula because they knew they would sleep for longer, allowing them to attempt to sneak onto a lorry going to the UK.

Charlotte Verstraete

midwife

Normal user

6 Apr 2017, 20:25

Thank you, Maddie!

Geraldine Fitzgerald

ILCA UN Liaison

Normal user

6 Apr 2017, 20:30

We were successful in Greece for the first year of life, but when we got to the toddlers, who are picky eaters, moms wanted to continue or start giving formula. There was a real concern that they did not get enough to eat, and a lack of knowledge about normal developmental behavior.
On another note....
Some moms refused formula that did not have a label because they trusted known brands, such as Enfamil. We removed the labels as per the Code, but had to show some of them the containers before label removal, just to reassure them. And after what they have been through it is understandable that they were suspicious and protective.

Jodine Chase

SafelyFed Canada

Normal user

6 Apr 2017, 20:36

This article by Karleen Gribble on Aunchalee Palmquist's blog site may be helpful to you.

https://anthrolactology.com/2016/01/16/why-breastfeeding-mothers-request-and-use-donated-infant-formula/

In the article, Karleen focuses on five circumstances:

- Women believe they are unable to breastfeed
- Cultural beliefs
- Aspiration to bottle feed
- Infant formula is a high value product
- Formula feeding is normal in the population

Geraldine Fitzgerald

ILCA UN Liaison

Normal user

6 Apr 2017, 20:48

I just want to clarify that we were not offering formula to moms of toddlers. They were asking for it. (for the reasons stated above.)

Pamela Morrison IBCLC

IBCLC in private practice

Normal user

7 Apr 2017, 07:38

Do the mothers wanting formula to make their babies sleep longer so they can catch the lorries not realize that one of the most important protective aspects of breastfeeding is that you can keep your child quiet at the breast, anywhere, any time - thus avoiding the give-away unmistakeable sound of a baby crying?

Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

7 Apr 2017, 08:30

Pamela - the women come from mixed feeding cultures - they are mostly Iraqi Kurds. They also do not currently have high quality infant feeding counselling and support - the volunteer midwives in camp are not trained in infant feeding in emergency situations.
Getting on a lorry is completely unpredictable. They want slings so they can have two hands free to climb on a lorry with sleeping baby for as long as possible - the spaces they may need to hide in may not be conducive to nursing!

Mothers also often completely believe that formula is supportive of their baby's nutrition. And in France, they do not need to look far to see local mothers all bottlefeeding.

Brooke Bauer

Nurture Project International

Normal user

7 Apr 2017, 12:31

Pamela, very often we see parents who are in difficult situations giving valium or other sedatives to the baby to keep them quiet in difficult circumstances. Mothering at the breast isn't always possible and even if it is there is virtually no counseling to support them.

I haven't been to Dunkirk but have responded in both Greece in Iraq. I am assuming it is similar circumstances.

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