Advocates appeal for breastmilk donations

By Maria Aleta Nieva-Nishimori,

Posted at Aug 08 2012 05:51 PM | Updated as of Aug 09 2012 01:53 AM

Donated breastmilk. Photo from the Facebook page of Medela Moms

MANILA, Philippines – Lactating women are urged to donate breastmilk to mothers nursing babies at various evacuation centers across Metro Manila.

Beauty, Brains, and Breastfeeding (BBB) director Iza Abeja made the call to help babies currently in need of breastmilk after their families have been evacuated from their flood-ravaged homes.

She said they can donate breastmilk at the PGH Milk Bank in Manila or at the Medela House at No. 29, 1st Street, New Manila, Quezon City.

Maricel Cua of Medela Moms, which operates the Medela House, said donors can drop off their breastmilk donations from Monday to Friday at 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“We will bring it to PGH to be pasteurized. Breastmilk is much healthier than if you give formula,” said Cua.

So far, the Medela Moms have collected close to 200 ounces of breastmilk.

“We're still trying to call on mommies to continue donating,” she added.

Those who wish to donate may contact the Medela House at 0917-5614366. They accept ready-packed breastmilk, but lactating mothers can also express their milk there upon appointment.

Not the first time

This is not the first time that breastfeeding advocates called for breastmilk donations. Cua said they also mobilized mothers to donate breastmilk at the aftermath of tropical storm “Sendong.”

“During Sendong, we were able to donate 3,000 ounces of breastmilk to Cagayan de Oro and Iligan," she said.

Cua said that donation lasted for over three months.

Another advocate, Jenny Ong from LATCH (Lactation Attachment Training Counseling Help), said they are now coordinating with local health officers for the breastfeeding missions in Metro Manila.

“Kailangang muna kasing i-assess ang needs,” Ong said.

She said they are also tapping other trained counselors from Arugaan to help in the mission by assisting breastfeeding mothers at evacuation centers.

No to formula milk

Meanwhile, Abeja requested well-meaning people not to give formula milk donations, saying that it is “illegal.”

“Because it's illegal and not so many people know that,” she said.

Last month, Senator Pia Cayetano explained that many well-meaning people have contacted her office during times of calamities to donate formula milk to disaster-hit areas.

“If you're not familiar with the breastfeeding issue, syempre sasabihin mo pagkain din ‘yan ng bata. But, if you are familiar with breastfeeding, know this: A breastfeeding child receives--especially 0-6 months--all their nutrients from their mother.

Cayetano stressed that a mother’s milk supply decreases once her baby is given formula milk.

“What happens kapag tapos na ang evacuation center one week, in one month? Wala nang gatas si nanay. Paano niya ngayon pakakainin yung baby niya?” the senator said.

She, however, clarified that they are not against the assistance.

“Pero, if you give them formula, you deprive the child of the chance to be fed by his mother. Kung gusto nyo, pakainin nyo ‘yung nanay para masustansiya ang nanay may ilalabas na breastmilk during the time of stress,” she said.