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To genuinely wonder why newvorn babies affected by Kenyan drought are malnourished?

(50 Posts)
Lainey1981 Fri 15-Jul-11 22:16:35

Genuine quesrion.
Just watching the news and saw a 3 month old baby who weighs about 4lb. Horribly malnourished.
AIBU to wonder why these babies are not being breastfed? Has the famine/drought made it so the mother's can't feed? Or is this part of the wider Nestle/formula manufacturers issue? Which admittedly I don't fully understand.

Lainey1981 Fri 15-Jul-11 22:17:23


thisisyesterday Fri 15-Jul-11 22:18:20

i think that in a lot of African communities it's the done thing to supplement formula with teas and other things.
if you have contaminated water you end up with a baby with diarrhoea.

it's true though that if a mother is extremely malnourished her milk will, eventually, suffer too. or maybe that she is simply too tired to feed the baby as much as it wants?

Lilithmoon Fri 15-Jul-11 22:18:54

starving mum=starving baby. the question is what can we do?

Merle Fri 15-Jul-11 22:19:02

The mothers are starving, therefore they won't be making enough milk.

ApocalypseCheeseToastie Fri 15-Jul-11 22:19:10

Well if mum hasn't got anything going in (and it's important to keep fluids up) then there won't be anything coming out.

It's as simple as that really.

cornishpasty Fri 15-Jul-11 22:19:26

I would have thought that the mothers would be malnourished so are unable to produce milk to feed them.

HaggisMcSporran Fri 15-Jul-11 22:20:15

how can the mother produce enough milk to feed a baby when she is starving herself, the milk doesnt just magically appear, the mother needs enough nutrition to produce the milk in the first place.

hiddenhome Fri 15-Jul-11 22:22:33

A mother requires a good fluid intake in order to produce milk. In the event that she's not able to, the body will conserve her fluids and fail to produce enough milk.

Lainey1981 Fri 15-Jul-11 22:23:23

Thanks for replies. It is just so devestating to watch.
I have also wondered why such large communities remain these areas which are so clearly not condusive with crop growing etc? I feel the news reports what the affects of drought/ famine are but doesn't really (ime) look in much detail at the causes and potential solutions
<possibly naive news watcher>

Meglet Fri 15-Jul-11 22:24:35

In this country if a mother needs to increase her supply I thought the general advice was to eat well, feed the baby often and rest. My supply always shot up when I had plenty to drink. That wouldn't be possible if the mother wasn't able to eat or drink and was shattered from walking to a camp or looking for water.

reallytired Fri 15-Jul-11 22:25:19

It aint rocket science, that when a mother is close to death from starvation that her milk supply will drop. The mother body has to stay alive inorder to feed the baby. If the mother is not comsuiming 500 calories a day and has no fat then she cannot produce 500 calories a day for a baby.

I doult these poor women have anything to supplement their babies with. Treating a starving mother and baby may well require formula. The important thing is to use a nursing supplementer to keep breastfeeding going as far as possible. However keeping the mother alive is a consideration as well. If the mother is too weak to breastfeeding and there is no doner milk then formula maybe the best solution.

What is there not to understand?

Alibabaandthe80nappies Fri 15-Jul-11 22:27:32

YANBU to ask the question. 'Politics of Breastfeeding' has a lot to say on the subject.

Systematic undermining of breastfeeding in these communities is a big contributing factor to overpopulation, which makes populations more vulnerable when there is drought etc.

reallytired Fri 15-Jul-11 22:27:48

The problem is not crop failure, but war. In the UK farmers do experience crop failure some years. We have the money and logistics to buy food in.

In many of these Africian countries the roads have been blown up and crops destroyed. Also the EU and the USA artifically inflate the price of food.

Ivortheengine8 Fri 15-Jul-11 22:28:15

Yes, the mothers don't eat and therefore don't produce milk. Buying forumla in these countries is dodgy and expensive, most wouldn't be able to afford it if they can't even afford basic food.
No rain, no crops, no food - its a cycle of disaster mixed with ongoing issues of corruption in governing bodies.

thisisyesterday Fri 15-Jul-11 22:28:52

what you eat and drink doesn't really affect your milk supply

your body will produce milk first, denying you of nutrients, and use anything that's left over.

it isn't the case that not eating/drinking will stop you producing milk at all. however, obviously if someone is fvery seriously malnourished it will eventually affect their milk, esp if it's prolonged i would imagine

glassescase Fri 15-Jul-11 22:29:30

When I was breastfeeding (twins admittedly), I ate huge meals and when feeding during the night I would consume several bananas and often sandwiches, along with pots of tea and glasses of squash. I still lost weight very rapidly. (twas good!) These poor mums are starving and dehydrated, they don't stand a chance.

Indaba Fri 15-Jul-11 22:30:43

Mother nature ensures that in the short term that, even if bugger all is going in, then the baby can take some nourishment out.

Its heartbreaking.

I live on the African continent and am currently working at a station to get food into Kenya etc but yet again drought conditions are hit by the double whammy of political and social unrest. Their own and more developed governments and countries are bleeding these countries dry for their own gains.

This is not just lack of rain.

The world throws away enough food food to feed these needy children. Its economic and political factors that lets them starve (both locally and overseas).

I know I'm "no better" than anyone else....and as I write this email I am just as guilty as any one else (if those are the right words).....all I am mean is lets just blame the lack of rain.........lets look at the wider political and economic circumstances that hurt these families.

thisisyesterday Fri 15-Jul-11 22:31:07

there is nowhere else for them to go though.... there are something like 370,000 people in one refugee camp nr Kenya.

those people can't al just move to another area and start up farms or whatever.

sadly i don't think much will change until they get decent governments in, but that's unlikely to happen any time soon

reallytired Fri 15-Jul-11 22:31:21

"Systematic undermining of breastfeeding in these communities is a big contributing factor to overpopulation, which makes populations more vulnerable when there is drought etc."

So what you are saying is that babies lives have been saved by formula. This has resulted in the human population getting to big and there not being enough food.

That doesn't make sense as formula fed babies are more likely to die than breastfeed babies. Surely the use of formula would decrease the population rather than save lives.

Indaba Fri 15-Jul-11 22:31:47

ooops, meant lets not blame the lack of rain....duh!

Lainey1981 Fri 15-Jul-11 22:32:36

Jeez reallytired i was just interested as I thought the human body was designed to produce milk in a famine etc, and am realising that although this hasonly been headline news recently, the crisis must have been going on a lot longer for the mums to be so malnourished themselves to be unable to produce milk.
I guess I didn't think it through properly. I only managed to feed my ds for 3 weeks so not au fait with how breastfeeding works in detail
Probably shouldn't have posted, just popped into my head, and usual thought don't thimk ask mumsnet!

RitaMorgan Fri 15-Jul-11 22:33:11

What you eat and drink has little effect on milk supply in mothers in Western societies as we are generally well fed and have plenty of reserves to call on. If you are undernourished you can still breastfeed successfully but a sudden drop into malnutrition/starvation is going to have an impact on milk production.

Sandalwood Fri 15-Jul-11 22:35:38

The news images of women trying to feed their babies but having no milk during the Ethiopian famine in the 80s, have really stuck in my mind as being amongst the most upsetting images I have ever seen.

Alibabaandthe80nappies Fri 15-Jul-11 22:37:16

reallytired no,not at all.

BFing is a natural contraceptive. When term breastfeeding is practiced then the gap between pregnancies will naturally be around 3-4 years.
When formula is used instead then the contraception is lost and women will typically give birth every 1-2 years.

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