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Struggling To Breastfeed After Hurricane Irma

Arnetta Gordon and her nine-month old daughter.
Courtesy of Arnetta Gordon
Arnetta Gordon and her nine-month old daughter.

Arnetta Gordon is a Miami-Dade public school teacher.  After leaving Miami to escape Hurricane Irma with her husband and four children, she returned to her Liberty City home which like thousands of others had no electricity.  Gordon has a 9-month old infant who she breastfeeds.

She wrote WLRN about the challenges of breastfeeding with no power:

I knew it would be challenging to live without electricity. However, I honestly did not believe it would take long to restore power.  On Wednesday, the houses across the street from us all had their power restored. Unfortunately, our side of the street remained in the dark.

As a breastfeeding mother, it was becoming increasingly difficult to breastfeed my daughter in the heat. In addition to the sweating, and crankiness associated with my daughter's discomfort, I started having issues producing enough milk for her.

My milk production started to drop because of dehydration. Although I thought I was drinking a lot of water, I was also sweating profusely. When I realized what was happening, I started drinking even more water so that my baby could eat, but I noticed my milk supply did not return to the same  level it was before.

I ended up going to Walgreens to get formula for her as a back up just in case. The nights were unbearable. I barely slept because my baby was so uncomfortable that she cried and screamed all night. I had to console her with my breasts , but the low supply of milk made it extremely difficult to soothe her.

After four nights with no electricity, I decided I had to get a hotel room. A friend of mine who works at a hotel on Miami Beach was able to get me a discounted rate for residents displaced by Hurricane Irma. I was finally able to take a hot bath, give my children hot baths, and rehydrate myself.


Arnetta Gordon and her 9-month old daughter.
Credit Arnetta Gordon
Arnetta Gordon
Arnetta Gordon and her 9-month old daughter.

Thankfully, my milk supply has returned to normal, or close enough to normal so that I don’t have to give my daughter formula anymore.

After two nights at the hotel, we checked out Monday morning. School reopened today, and I am a teacher, but I did not return to work or allow my children to go to school today. Our power is still off at home.

We are running a generator from home--- for fans. Most of our refrigerated food has spoiled and has been discarded.

We have spent so much money as a result of this storm;  $30 each day for the generator, $250 on the hotel, $20 for baby formula, countless dollars on hot food, water, and other necessities. FPL updated our status to say we should expect power by 11:45pm tonight.

I'm watching the clock and waiting.

Copyright 2020 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit .

Nadege Greencovers social justice issues for WLRN.