In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, people all over the country have been looking for ways to help those impacted. There are a myriad of needs and just as many ways to help. One mom donated her breast milk to Hurricane Harvey victims because every little bit counts.
Danielle Palmer, a St. Louis, Missouri mom, found herself with a serious excess of breast milk. Her youngest son, born with a congenital heart defect, had to get his nutrition through an IV and therefore wasn't using her milk for the first month of his life. Palmer explained, according to NBC affiliate, 9 NEWS:
For the first month or so, all of the milk that I pumped went straight to the freezer.
Shortly after the hurricane made landfall, her son Truett's speech therapist spoke with Palmer about the possibility of donating her extra milk to Houston families in need. Not only did Palmer decide to donate the milk, she said on her Facebook post that she felt honored to do so:
We're very blessed and grateful that we have an opportunity to share. I know there are mothers who want to feed their babies breast milk who can’t. And it’s better than ruining or tossing [the milk] out. So, at least, Truett and I can share some love in that aspect.
Since then, Palmer has donated more than 1,000 ounces of breast milk to flood victims in the Houston area. That same speech therapist, along with Palmer's midwife, took the breast milk to Houston and managed to keep it all frozen and intact. According to 9NEWS, Palmer said that she is proud of the aid that she has supplied to Harvey victims,
If I can help alleviate some stress from those moms, then my job has been done.
Donating breast milk is a powerful way to help victims of natural disasters. Formula feeding may not always be an option for mothers in disaster areas. Formula requires access to clean water, a necessity that hundreds of thousands of people were without following Hurricane Harvey.
Additionally, breast milk protects babies against a number of infections that can be present in disaster areas. As compared to consuming potentially unsafe drinking water through formula, the risks associated with milksharing are rather small. The CDC website mentions that breast milk can transmit HIV and similar infectious diseases, but the risk of infection from a single bottle of milk is low.
While donating this much milk is not an option for every nursing mama, it is a vital resource that immediately helps some of the most vulnerable victims of catastrophic events. For those interested in donating milk of their own, I would recommend contacting milk banks in the area to see how you can help.
As the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey is examined by officials and repair efforts are underway, there are a number of ways for you to get involved and help the victims. The period following such a disaster is a time for communities to band together and move forward, regardless of how you give.