Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma have devastated much of Texas and Florida. People died, and other people lost homes and property. People in the U.S. are stranded without food or clean water. And through all that, babies are still being born, and babies need to be fed. One Missouri mom heard a call from Texas mothers in search of donated breast milk, so she sent over more than 1,000 ounces of her own.
Power outages and flooding destroyed a lot of women’s frozen breast milk stores, and stress from the disaster even reportedly caused some women’s milk to dry up. For a mother who was committed to exclusively feeding human breast milk, that could feel like another disaster on top of already unimaginable stress. That’s why Missouri mom Danielle Palmer sent more than 1,000 ounces of milk to Hurricane Harvey victims.
Truett and I just sent 1040 ounces of liquid gold to help momma's with babies in Texas! So thankful we are able to help…
That sure is a lot of milk! Palmer must have an enormous freezer. All those Medela bottles she’s been storing the milk in aren’t cheap, either.
Palmer’s son was born with a heart defect that meant he couldn’t drink for the first part of his life, so Palmer started pumping. She pumped a lot, judging from the photos. Her son took expressed milk through a feeding tube, but Palmer still has a dragon’s hoard of “liquid gold” in her freezer.
Parents in Texas were reportedly looking for breast milk donations
Local nonprofit Guiding Stars Missouri wrote that a contact in Texas told them there were mothers there looking for donor breast milk. So that organization gathered thousands of ounces of milk from Missouri mothers, packed it in a freezer with dry ice, and drove it to Texas. Guiding Stars also gathered useful donated items like diapers, feminine hygiene products, baby carriers and slings. (There’s an especially huge need for diapers among displaced families and evacuees.)
Whether or not to donate breast milk to disaster victims is a contentious issue. Some people, especially people who are passionate believers in breastfeeding over formula-feeding, think it’s a wonderful gift to people with hungry babies. Others point out that shipping and freezing breast milk is extremely difficult, and formula is safer and easier than trying to keep gallons of human milk frozen.
“It sounds wonderful, but in the midst of a crisis it’s actually one of the most challenging things,” humanitarian aid expert Rebecca Gustafson told CBS News about the breast milk that arrived in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. “Breast milk doesn’t stay fresh for very long. And the challenge is, what happens if you do give it to an infant who then gets sick?”
But there are parents in Texas who would prefer donor breast milk to other options, and in this case there were people like Palmer there to deliver a supply for them. Donor milk is generally safe for babies to consume, as long as the donor is healthy and not suffering from any serious infectious diseases. The CDC says if the donor mother is healthy, there’s little risk to a child consuming breast milk from someone besides its biological mother.
People in Texas still need diapers, formula, feminine hygiene products, food, and water. For those of us who want to help but don’t have giant freezers of breast milk or a contact in Texas waiting to receive it, he Houston Food Bank and the Corpus Christi Food Bank are both accepting donations.
Know a good place to donate? Let us know in the comments.
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