Breastfeeding in emergency situations
During emergencies, the life-saving protection of breastfeeding is more important than ever. Conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics often force families from their homes and result in devastating food insecurity, limited access to clean water and disruptions to basic services—with women and children bearing the greatest consequences. In these settings, breastfeeding guarantees a safe, nutritious and accessible food source for infants and young children and a protective shield against disease and death.
Breastfeeding in emergencies is no easy feat; mothers face immense challenges. To help them thrive despite the obstacles, we need to make the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding a standard response in every emergency. This response must put the rights, dignity and well-being of mothers and their children at the centre.
Countries have shown that it is possible to protect, promote and support breastfeeding adequately in emergency settings. The first step is to make breastfeeding the norm before emergencies, with greater investments in programmes and policies that empower breastfeeding.