WTF is wrong with lactation “professionals”: Ukraine edition

Pardon my language, but what the fuck is wrong with these people?

How can they be so so patronizing, so sanctimonious, so cruel?

In the face of the growing humanitarian disaster caused by the Russian invasions of Ukraine, the Lithuanian Lactation and Breastfeeding Consultant Association issued this appalling statement (Facebook translation):


! Do not accept charity offered milk blends, bottles, pacifiers !

EXPLANATION: In critical conditions, mothers who are urged to feed the baby with a mixture will find it difficult to ensure hygiene (this requires clean boiling water, electricity, bottles, breasts, sterilizer, detergents, etc.) so more concerns arise risks of diseases: intestinal infections in babies, middle ear inflammation, upper respiratory tract infections.

PSO Breast Milk Replacement Marketing Code and its supplementary resolutions, recommendations on how states should ensure that babies and young children are fed during extreme situations, PROBABLY ADMISSION OF MILK BILLS AND OTHER Artificial Nutrition EMOTIONAL MANUFACTURERS SUPPORT BUT ANY FORM. The state must allocate resources to enable breast feeding.

Don’t offer women who are enduring bombing or attempting to flee the war infant formula, bottles or pacifiers?

What are these lactation “professionals” trying to accomplish?

They’re protecting breastfeeding at the expense of babies lives and mother’s anguish.

As Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations pointed out in 2017:

Promoting breastfeeding is a laudable goal, but in some cases, international policy ends up determining women’s on-the-ground reality, even in wartime settings, rather than the other way around. In the process, policies run the risk of treating nursing mothers as children themselves …

This is hardly the first time that lactation “professionals” have blundered into fragile humanitarian settings to “support” breastfeeding.

The recent paper Granting Agency to Mothers in Decision Making Over Breastfeeding in Fragile Humanitarian Settings: A Call for an Emancipatory Feminist Approach makes clear that breastfeeding during humanitarian disasters is more than a matter of support:

Mothers’ inadequate nutrition in these settings can pose a restraint to sufficient breastmilk production… Reduced lactation in such settings is also attributed to be a result of stress and trauma from recent or ongoing traumatic events. In a study conducted on internally displaced persons in Eastern Ukraine, 45.7% of mothers who discontinued breast-feeding when their infants were aged less than six months listed stress related to the conflict as the primary reason. Physical … injuries due to trauma resulting from recent conflict or natural disasters have also been reported as a barrier to breastfeeding …

What should lactation professionals (and everyone else) be doing?

Recognizing the dignity, self-worth, and inherent right of mothers to exercise autonomy in decision making … this article calls for a more emancipatory feminist approach to breastfeeding practice in fragile humanitarian settings.


The provision of breast milk substitutes to women who, despite full knowledge of the benefits of breastfeeding, make the autonomous decision to forgo the practice due to preference, physical, or emotional inability, can have a net positive impact on child nutrition in fragile humanitarian settings by ensuring the availability of an alternative option where breastfeeding otherwise would not occur.


This need not represent a reversal of progress made since the adoption of the International Code of Marketing; rather, it can represent a fundamental step in the quest to balance both empowering women and optimizing children’s health in fragile humanitarian settings.

Supporting babies and mothers should ALWAYS take priority over supporting breastfeeding!