saving lives with breast milk
Did you know that breast milk can help save the lives of pre-term infants? Since 2006, The Children’s Medical Center of Dayton has partnered with The Mothers Milk Bank of Ohio (MMBO) to provide donor breast milk to its tiniest infants. Currently, MMBO is facing a shortage of breast milk and is looking for mothers to consider being donors. Hear from one local mother who took part in donating breast milk and learn how this can make a difference for babies in your community.
Sitting in the waiting room at my OBGYN’s office, an article jumped out at me in a parenting magazine. Donating blood was a familiar concept, but some women are now actually donating breast milk to help pre-term infants. I barely had time to finish reading before I was called in for my appointment, but I remember telling myself that this was something I wanted to learn more about. Maybe this was something I could even do. I was successful at nursing my first son, and I was determined to be with the twins, which were due in a few weeks.
Fast forward six months and a couple thousand diapers. I thought of the article again as I was putting two more bags of breast milk into my deep freezer, which was over halfway full with frozen milk. I had so much, maybe too much. Andrew and Lydia were nursing well and there was no way I would need everything I had saved.
A quick Internet search pointed me in the direction of the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio, which relies on donations from healthy, lactating women who provide milk to help other babies. The donated milk is pasteurized, frozen and distributed by physician prescription. Their website shared details on all of the benefits of donated breast milk and it became clear that I had to do this and here is my main reason why: donating my milk is a way for me to help babies born under the same circumstance as my brother and sister.
In 1985 my mother gave birth to twins three months early. Both babies weighed less than three pounds and had extended stays in the Intensive Care Unit. My brother was the stronger of the two babies and today is strong, smart and successful. His twin sister lived until she was 10 months old, which is when she passed away after complications from pneumonia. Donor milk programs were not available when my mother had her twins, and it’s unfortunate because they could have benefited.
Research shows that donated breast milk can:
- Help pre-term babies reach full feeds sooner and need fewer IVs
- Mature their intestines faster and
- Decrease the number of days they spend in the hospital
- As well as many other benefits
Becoming a donor was easy; there are just a few simple pre-screening tests. Donating the milk was convenient; Dayton Children’s is a collection site and I could even drop it off curbside.
I am lucky to have three healthy children and I believe breastfeeding them has played a major role in their well being. I am thankful for the services the Mother’s Milk Bank of Ohio provides and hope that more women will choose to donate.