A new study is looking into whether more supports are needed for parents during an evacuation.
After the Horse River Wildfire, mothers from Fort McMurray were asked a series of questions related to their experience feeding their babies during the ordeal.
Lead Investigator Sarah DeYoung tells Mix News parents with young children need to be a priority at evacuation centres so babies continue to have food security.
She says an assessment and tracking process needs to be done immediately when these families arrive.
“We’re you breastfeeding, do you need support, what support do you need, were you bottle feeding before the evacuation, what kind of supplies do you need and making sure those supplies are sterile and clean.”
DeYoung notes the stigma around breastfeeding needs to go away, especially during a disaster when it’s very important to make sure young children are being fed properly.
“It’s important to give mothers support and encouragement to continue breastfeeding.”
“If the mother has perceptions that she’s not welcome to breastfeed in the evacuation centre, she may switch to bottles which introduces the risk for uncleaned bottles or bacteria from the formula,” she added.
The problem continues with parents who use formula or pumped breast milk.
Deyoung notes in many circumstances evacuation centres don’t have designated spots for parents to boil water for their formula and clean their supplies.
“Mother and caregivers who are bottle feeding pumped breast milk still need space and supplies to properly sanitize the bottles and teats that go on those bottles.”
This could lead to stress for the mother as well as the baby.
DeYoung says more research needs to be done to highlight this issue.