The best food to give a baby is breast milk. This is more important if the baby is not in the best of health. The baby gets a great start to his life with breast milk as it ensures that the baby gets all the goodness and nutrients that the baby requires.
However, there are situations where the mother cannot breastfeed, and this is where breast milk donation comes in.
If a baby is born prematurely, then it takes a few days for the mother to adjust. Or perhaps, she may feel too ill to feed the baby herself.
In such situations, donating breast milk is an excellent way of assisting her in overcoming these hurdles. Donor milk is considered to be the nearest thing to the mother’s own milk. So it is the best food to be given to the newborn baby. Breast milk is meant for human babies and has special immune properties, growth factors, hormones and many other nutrients.
It is usually the women who were helped themselves in similar circumstances that donate milk to ‘give back’. It is even possible to donate breast milk even if the child does not need help. This is why new recruits are always being sought. The overwhelming experience of childbirth is what makes a mother feel empathy for the unfortunate mothers who have a premature or sick baby.
Usually, the donors give about 30ml to 100ml a day, but this is not important. What is more important is for the donations to be expressed regularly, than the actual amount given. The first donation, however, has to be made within six months of the start of breastfeeding. If the donor uses contraception, then it is required that the donor takes the progesterone-only contraceptive pill. If the donor uses asthma inhalers, it should be used as infrequently as possible. Donors should also be careful enough to not use any other medication, drink more than two alcoholic drinks per day, smoke or even drink more than seven cups of coffee per day. In the case, the donor develops mastitis or rubella, or she recently had a rubella vaccination, then the donations have to be discontinued.
Milk is donated by expressing it into a sterile plastic container the milk bank has provided that, and which is then stored in the freezer. It is actually easier to express milk from the other breast while your baby is feeding on one breast, due to the increased flow of milk. You need not worry, as there will be sufficient milk supply for your own baby as your body adjusts to meet the increasing demand for milk. Once you establish a sufficient milk supply for your baby, you can start donating breast milk. The best time to donate breast milk is about a month or two after your baby’s birth. You will be asked specific questions about your lifestyle and health by the milk bank, just to make sure you are suitable for milk donation. You will also have to undergo a blood test to determine that you have no diseases that may pass onto the baby through your milk.
Human milk is the best for babies as it has growth factors that help immature tissue, the healing of any damaged tissue and promotes maturation in the baby. It also has unique nutrients, hormones, enzymes and immunological and anti-inflammatory properties. Breast milk is usually donated via a doctor’s prescription stating the medical reason why the mother is unable to provide for herself. The ill and premature babies are also prioritized. The milk is processed through steps of scrubbing, pouring, mixing, filling pasteurizing (to kill bacteria and viruses), testing and freezing to avoid disease transmission.