Monday 20 May 2013

The Milk Bank!

Prior to having Ruby, I was very adamant that I would not be breastfeeding her; some people did not agree with my choice, but at the end of the day it was my choice to make. At some point I shall go into greater detail about why I made the choices I did. However when it came to having Lottie, I was a bit more open minded. We initially tried breastfeeding, but I found it really tough and needed a break, so decided to express; this was great as it meant that Lottie could still have my milk whilst I got my head around breastfeeding. After a week or two of expressing, I started to feed Lottie myself and have never looked back.

Lottie's Stash of Milk! 

Yesterday was world breast milk donation day; it got me thinking about how following Lottie's birth, I decided to look into donating some of my surplus milk to a local hospital; to my disappointment I found out that they do not accept donor milk; not put off by this, I spoke with UKAMB, (an organisation that works for the provision of safe, screened donor breast milk) , who put me in touch with the nearest hospital that was geared up to accept and process donor breast milk. The hospital was over 50 miles away! I rang the hospital and spoke with them in depth about what I would needed to do in terms of hygiene, sterilising pumps, quantity of milk required etc. After filling out the necessary forms, it was apparent that it was not possible for me to donate as I lived outside of their area; their remit was within a radius of 40 miles of their hospital. I was really disappointed as it was something I really wanted to do. There is a real need for breast milk donors, but not enough money or facilities to process the donor milk.

UKAMB have made the following video, which shows the journey of how milk gets from the donor to the recipient:

Breast milk is especially important to babies in neonatal intensive care or special care. Here are some facts about Donor Breast Milk from UKAMB's website:

  • Donor breast milk is the next best thing to a mother’s own breast milk if she is unable to feed her baby for whatever reason, or if her baby requires additional milk for a time. 
  • Donor breast milk has benefits over formula because it contains a variety of protective factors which help protect a sick premature baby from infection. These small babies are very prone to catch to infections and they need all the help they can get. These protective factors, such as immunoglobulins, are not present in formula prepared from cow’s milk.
  • Not only does donor breast milk protect from infection but it also has a protective role against the syndrome called necrotising enterocolitis.
  • A preterm baby’s gut is very delicate and absorbs breastmilk more easily than formula milk because the balance of proteins is different. A sick baby needs to be fed very gently and very small amounts of breast milk gradually acclimatise the gut to food. This is especially true for babies who have had gut surgery when their gut needs to be introduced to food very gradually.

Donor Breast milk is not just exclusively used for premature babies, it also is used for babies who have had gut surgery, cows milk intolerances and many more.

I still wish I could have had the opportunity to donate breast milk and if I were to have another baby and a milk bank opens up near me, I will almost certainly donate. Its only since Lottie's birth that I have really come to know how precious breast milk is and understand why people call it liquid gold. I am so incredibly proud of what Lottie and I have achieved, but understand that for some people, myself included when I had Ruby, breastfeeding does not come naturally and may not be possible at all for a number of reasons.

If you would like further information about milk banks please see the following website.

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