Breast Milk Donors
Most babies do not develop the suck-swallow-breathe reflex - critical for eating - until about 32-weeks in the womb. It can be challenging to feed a premature baby and equally challenging for some new mothers to produce milk right away. Find out how Saint Mary's Medical Center is offering a safe option for parents who only want to give their babies breast milk in Health Watch.
"He's such a miracle. He's such a miracle,” Hanna Hull whispers, as she holds her new baby boy tightly. “So special, so sweet; Just a perfect little baby." Hannah goes to Saint Mary’s every single day to hold, feed and love on Simon, who has called the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit home since June 14th. Simon and his twin brother, Gideon, were born 14 weeks early! "It's been scary and day by day."
Early on in Hannah’s pregnancy, she found out she had Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome which means the babies shared the placenta - unequally. While baby Simon was overloaded, baby Gideon was unable to get all the nutrients needed to survive. Although heartbroken to say goodbye to him after just three weeks, Hannah's grateful that Simon is thriving in the NICU. She believes one reason why is breast milk. "He can start to get used to my smell and everything because they do swabs of breast milk right away."
While Hannah was able to produce milk right away, not all women can. "It can be challenging, especially if it's a premature baby,” explains Bre Taylor who is the Director of Maternal Child Services at Saint Mary’s. She cites studies that prove why breast milk is best for babies. "Even later in life, there are less complications a baby can experience if they have an exclusive human milk diet." However, if new mothers are not producing yet, there is still a way to feed their baby an exclusive breast milk diet. Look no further than the NICU’s fridge.
Saint Mary’s partners with Prolacta - a manufacturer out of Southern California - that rigorously screens and distributes donated breast milk. "The only manufacturer in the country to screen donor breast milk just like it was a blood product." Along with testing for viruses, it tests a donor’s DNA to make sure the milk matches. Each donation is labeled down to the calories to help babies grow.
While Hannah has not needed donor milk to feed Simon, she says she is glad to know it is available and praises all the selfless donors. "It’s an amazing and super awesome gift because it's taxing on your body to produce milk." But as Hannah and so many other new mothers know, every drop of donated breast milk is worth its weight in gold.
If you happen to have breast milk to spare or a freezer full of it, you can donate it Prolacta. Prolacta will send you packing supplies to have your donations tested. You can also join a virtual breast milk bank by logging on to www.saintmarysreno.com.