Monday, September 19, 2011

Breast Pumps Save Babies

At AFE we strive to meet the healthcare needs of the students and their families while extending our reach to other patients in nearby communities. A large part of what I (Hollie Macenczak) do as the nurse at AFE’s clinic relies on donations of medical supplies. Recently, the Health Resource Center (HRC) from Washington Cathedral (WC) donated two high-quality, manual breast pumps to two women in need with two very different situations. A mission team from WC generously transported the pumps when they came to serve at AFE for a week.

One of the leading causes of infant mortality in Honduras is diarrhea. Moms who use formula often mix the powder with contaminated water, which causes diarrhea and dehydration. Often times they over-dilute the powder in order to save money and babies suffer from malnutrition. These breast pumps were such a blessing to combat these easily-solved problems and to improve the health of babies in situations of desperate poverty.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how these women would respond to using a breast pump because this type of thing is practically unheard of within this cultural group. Neither woman had seen a breast pump before nor known another woman who had used one. The good news is that most women who live here breastfeed for financial and health reasons, so both women were willing to try this new method of pumping.

The first woman (I’ll call her Stefany) is a 16-year-old new mom who had mastitis. Mastitis is a painful, and sometimes dangerous, infection of the breast tissue and nipple often caused by a bad latch and not emptying the breasts completely with every feeding. It is always a challenge to breastfeed for the first time, especially as a young mom, so when Stefany initially came to me with this infection, I knew I had a small window of time to encourage her to continue providing healthy breast milk to her baby. At her first appointment, Stefany successfully pumped two ounces of milk all by herself! After seeing how easy it was to manage the pump independently, she continued to breastfeed regularly and to use the pump in between feedings. After only two days of regular feeds and pumping, Stefany was recovering physically and still able to provide breast milk for her baby.

The second woman (I’ll use the name Maria) is a mother of six children. She works in the trash dump, collecting and recycling materials for a living. After having her baby, she had to return to work, but still wanted to breastfeed. In the past Maria could never have done this without a breast pump!

You might be asking yourself, “How can I help?” Donations of medical supplies and medications are always needed. Also, monetary donations are great for buying antibiotics and other prescription medications that are more economical to purchase Baby Johanna (pictured here with her cousin) is
one of the babies to benefit from the breast pumps
here in Honduras than transport from the U.S.

If you are interested in making a donation to the clinic at AFE, please feel free to contact me at and I will send you our current needs list and let you know how you can help.

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