Are we prepared? Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies

March 19, 2020

Over the past week, concerns related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) have increased. The California Breastfeeding Coalition has been and will continue to closely monitor the rapidly changing situation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have provided very helpful COVID-19 information and guidance regarding pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and parenting during this time.

The California Breastfeeding Coalition is grateful to everyone in our communities working diligently to ensure individuals and families have uninterrupted access to breastfeeding resources, lactation support, donor human milk, and infant formula.

During times of crisis and emergencies, breastfeeding, relactation, and the use of donor human milk are always encouraged; however we also know that infant formula use and milk sharing are a reality. We have to make space for and support for people who are combination feeding, completely supplementing with formula or milk sharing.

This current crisis has exposed a number of areas where we, as a State, can improve and strengthen our work in regard to Infant and Young Child Feeding in Emergencies (IYCFE).

Our collective work is even more critical at this time as many women, birthing people and families in our communities are being adversely affected, including lactation support persons. We cannot afford to wait any longer to create a comprehensive IYCFE preparedness plan which centers community needs and addresses persistent inequities, such as access to equitable lactation services, infant feeding resources, and supplies.

In the upcoming days, the California Breastfeeding Coalition will initiate a number of activities to assess and better understand the impact of COVID-19 on the breastfeeding and lactation communities in California. This information will allow us to create more effective IYCFE tools and resources, specific to California’s needs now and in the future.

The California Breastfeeding Coalition remains committed to protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding, chestfeeding, and the use of donor human milk in California. We look forward to working with our partners, collaborators, local breastfeeding coalition leaders, advocates, and community members to create equitable IYCFE preparedness plans. Going forward, it is critical that we are unified and measured in our responses and actions.

Thank you for your questions, comments, and feedback. Please continue to reach out and contact us. We greatly appreciate your continued support and commitment to ensuring all families and communities have the resources and support needed to meet their infant feeding goals

Warm Regards,

Robbie Gonzalez-Dow,
Executive Director, California Breastfeeding Coalition