First Responders

Please review and share the information below, so that Durham can become recognized as having Breastfeeding Friendly First Responders! Email Breastfeed Durham to receive a digital certificate of completion.  

Review Breastfeeding Laws and Regulations

Breastfeeding in Public

North Carolina law states that “…a woman may breastfeed in any public or private location where she is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.” Click here to read the N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993). This means that a breastfeeding parent is NOT in violation of indecent exposure laws. 

Officials should promote breastfeeding

Officials should promote breastfeeding to improve infant health. We all benefit when our community is healthier. Breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from bacteria and viruses. Breastfed children have fewer ear, respiratory and urinary tract infections and have diarrhea less often. Infants who are exclusively breastfed tend to need fewer health care visits, prescriptions and hospitalizations resulting in a lower total medical care cost compared to never-breastfed infants. As a part of the Healthy People 2020 initiative, two national goals are to increase the proportion of infants who are breastfed at six months and infants who are breastfed exclusively through six months by the year 2020.   

Support Breastfeeding

Any time a parent needs a first responder, it feels like an emergency for that family. Emergencies often occur when least expected, and sometimes when we are least prepared. They can include a wide range of unsettling events, including personal or family crises, public health emergencies (such as a flu pandemic), acts of terror and violence, and natural disasters or weather-related events (such as floods and blizzards). Emergencies can make it hard for parents and caregivers to feed their infants and young children safely. Know the law and follow these tips to keep our children safe when disaster strikes…

We know that breastfeeding, and the lower breastfeeding rates, is a public health issue that has affected certain marginalized communities and certain racial groups more than others. And breastfeeding isn’t easy for everyone, particularly in emergencies.

Video uploaded from Save the Children USA

Infants and children are the most vulnerable during emergencies

  • Nearly 95% of infant and child deaths in emergencies result from diarrhea due to contaminated water and an unsanitary environment.
  • Infant formula has been linked to an increase in infant disease and death: it can also be contaminated and requires clean water and fuel to sterilize formula, bottles, and nipples. Lack of electricity also can make it difficult to preserve formula.
  • Breastfeeding saves lives! Human milk is always clean, requires no fuel, water, or electricity, and is available, even in the direst circumstances.
  • Human milk contains antibodies that fight infection, including diarrhea and respiratory infections common among infants in emergency situations.
  • Human milk provides infants with perfect nutrition, including the proper amount of vitamins and minerals required for normal growth.
  • Breastfeeding releases hormones that lower stress and anxiety in both babies and parents.
  • Parents who breastfeed are able to keep their babies warm to prevent hypothermia.

Parents can breastfeed in an emergency!

  • The safest food in an emergency is the parents’s own milk. Donor human milk is the next best option. Parents who cannot directly feed their babies also can be supported to express their milk.
  • Parents who are stressed can continue to make milk. A quiet area to help parents relax can help their milk flow to the baby; however, parents can breastfeed even without the support of a quiet space.
  • Malnourished parents can make milk.
  • Even parents who have already discontinued breastfeeding may be able to restart breastfeeding (known as
  • If a baby (or parent) becomes ill, the best thing the parent can do is to continue breastfeeding to provide her baby with human antibodies that fight the illness.
  • Support makes the difference!

Breastfeeding Support Checklist

If you are a first responder or an emergency relief worker, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping this Breastfeeding Support Checklist for Relief Workers on hand.

Create a Safe Space for Breastfeeding Families

  • Keep families together.
  • Create safe, private areas for breastfeeding women to nurse their infants.
  • Reassure parents that they can and should continue to breastfeed and should offer the breast as much as their infants want.

It’s All About Access

  • Ensure that pregnant and lactating women are a priority group for access to food and water.
  • Be ready to connect families and caregivers to lactation support providers if they need help.

Cleanliness Is Key

  • Make disposable cups available, since bottles and nipples can be hard to clean effectively when there is limited access to clean water.
  • If there is clean water, ensure access to items like a washbasin, dish soap, cleaning brushes, and a mesh bag to hang dry infant feeding items.
  • Educate families about how to clean infant feeding items.

Things To Avoid

  • Avoid providing breast pumps. Without power, parents cannot use an electric breast pump or safely refrigerate their expressed milk. Furthermore, keeping pump parts clean is an additional challenge when the water is unsafe.
  • Avoid giving powdered infant formula or other breast milk substitutes. Relief organizations should only provide ready-to-use infant formula to infants who are already formula feeding or have had breastfeeding interrupted in certain situations. Formula should not be provided to breastfeeding infants.

Training and Resources

In addition to your basic emergency preparedness training, explore resources from The Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute (CGBI).

  • Lactation and Infant Feeding in Emergencies
  • CGBI L.I.F.E. Support Basic Kit zip file
  • Through a program called Improving Community Outcomes for Maternal and Child Health (ICO4MCH), Breastfeed Durham is partnering with the Durham County Department of Public Health to offer community breastfeeding education and support, help businesses and organizations become breastfeeding friendly, and make Durham more equitable place for families. If you are interested in learning more about our breastfeeding work or scheduling an additional training, please contact Aubrey Delaney, the ICO4MCH program manager, or 919-560-7180.

Recovery Resources

Congratulations, Breastfeeding Friendly First Responders!

Thanks for reviewing this page. Complete the information below to receive a digital certificate of completion. 

    Thank you for supporting breastfeeding families!