Milk banks should be a household word, just like the blood banks.
All infants in need deserve to have human milk. Our smallest and sickest of babies need to have donor milk to help them get the best start in life. Donor milk will help dramatically reduce the risk of succumbing to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which is a really bad infection that causes their gut to slough off and die. Premies are more susceptible to this then full term babies. The reason donor milk is often needed for these babies is because their moms have not gone through the full 40 weeks gestation. This time period allows their mammary glands to prepare for milk production. Between the early birth and the stress associated with it, some moms just don’t have milk available for their baby – just yet.
The dangers of feeding babies formula from cows milk is that we are introducing a foreign antigen ( something that causes a bad reaction to the baby). Since their immune system is immature, they don’t handle foreign antigens well. Rather then give babies cows milk formula, they can have life saving donor milk. The cells in the intestinal tract are widely spaced at that point so the human milk can have direct access to other parts of the body, the lungs, the heart, the liver and start off by putting protective factors in those places. It is life saving, it has long term benefits. It has been documented that their hospital stay is at least 4 days shorter, they go home sooner, they are healthier, less likely to have complications that go along with NEC and it is medicine for them. It is necessary for their survival and their long term health.
I interviewed Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, FNP, IBCLC, and she shared with me her story of adopting her baby girl, using donor milk to give her the best nutrition possible and how she went on to breastfeed her daughter. Julie felt the call of opening up a milk bank in her state of NY and she shares with us how she went about this grand feat. Julie gathered her volunteers who felt this was a labor or love. They met at a diner for 3 years for all the planning stages. From gaining financial support for the milk bank, to finding one of the most heartfelt locations ( yes, I said heartfelt locations) for the milk bank, to opening up the milk bank, and saving thousands of babies lives, Julie gives an amazing interview that you will want to listen to and share with others. Particularly if you feel the calling to open up a milk bank in your area!
To read more about how Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, FNP, IBCLC, gathered a team of volunteers who helped her open up the First Milk Bank in NY, click here. You can also listen to the audio interview in Full by clicking here.