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If you are a pregnant woman or lactating mother, think of donating breast milk if you have excess – it could save some baby’s life.
Published as a World Breastfeeding Week Special. World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world.
Why is breast milk called liquid gold? Why is so much importance given to it? That’s because it actually is as precious as gold, or may be much more than that.
Every offspring of every mammal nurtures itself with its mother’s milk post birth. It is a source not just for survival but also for immunity for life. Human milk is no different.
We all know the immense benefits that breast milk brings to the baby with its high nutritional value that cannot be replicated in any factory made product. Even with so much technological advancement nothing similar to breast milk has been made for babies.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of babies who are in dire need of breast milk, where their survival is at stake. Even though it’s an option, formula milk is not the best option when there are little premature babies fighting for their lives.
Studies show that babies born prematurely or with low birth weight have more chances of survival and better development if fed on breast milk. But their biological mother’s milk may not always be available for various reasons. For all such cases breast milk banks are a saviour. Just like blood banks, milk banks store and preserve human milk. Most of the recipients of this milk are babies in the neonatal intensive care units.
The milk bank not only collects and stores milk but it also runs tests on them to make sure that it is really suitable for consumption of babies. There are a set of guidelines these banks follow to make sure that milk is pasteurised and preserved safely. Even the donor has to follow health checks before donating, just like a blood donor.
With my baby not latching I have been expressing for last 9 months. After an episode of mastitis, I was given a suggestion by the doctor not to stop expressing. My baby started having some solid food at 6 months and I had a good supply. She did not need as much as the milk I produced, but I had to express as a routine. I had excess quantities stacked up in the freezer. I had to discard 100ml breast milk once, and it was painful to see that milk go down drain; It was too precious to be wasted just like that, and I decided to see if there was an option to donate the excess my baby did not need.
I contacted a milk bank at Sion hospital in Mumbai. One of the doctors told me how crucial the demand for breast milk is. Little premies fighting for their life find it difficult to digest formula milk. Breast milk helps faster growth outside the mother’s womb for these babies in NICU. Because of the few drops of breast milk going into these babies every day there are chances that these babies could go to their homes and parents alive and healthy.
I had to submit various health reports and confirm that I was not smoking or drinking while lactating, and was free of infections. I was given a green signal to become a donor.
I donated a total of 2900 ml milk at 2 instances. I stored expressed milk in BM storage bags ( I got these online) at -15 degrees c and then sent them to the hospital in insulated boxes.
Donating milk is a fairly easy process. The requirements are as follows:
There are a lot of women who have a good or maybe even excess supply of milk. Usually to relieve engorgement most women drain out excess milk in the shower just to relieve the pressure. But to think that even a drop can benefit some baby in need can bring a big change. Instead of wasting this precious potion why not donate it?
We all talk so much about blood donation and there is so much awareness as well, but pregnant or lactating women hardly know about milk banks and milk donation. It was a feeling of fulfilment knowing that I was able to nourish not just my baby but maybe another baby who was in need of this liquid gold. When you become a mother you become more sensitive towards any child and that is what I experienced. I hope that through my post I can create at least a little awareness about donating breast milk. I hope more women can experience this beautiful feeling and more babies in turn will get the gift of life.
Breast milk – It’s not just food for the hungry but a hope for the needy.
Image source: YouTube
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