Donating your breastmilk is one of the most precious gifts that you can offer. Donated breastmilk helps to save the lives of premature and sick babies whose mothers are unable, for many reasons, to provide them with sufficient breastmilk of their own.
Milk Donating......
Women who have decided to breastfeed will how important breastmilk is for babies. It is especially important for babies who are sick or premature. Giving these babies breastmilk increases their chances of survival and helps their long-term development. Sometimes mothers of these tiny babies cannot feed them because they are ill themselves, or under too much stress to produce enough milk. Milk banks recruit breastfeeding mothers to donate some of their surplus breastmilk or to regularly express milk for the bank.
How A Milk Bank is Run
The organisation of milk banks varies around the country. Mostly they are attached to Neonatal Units in large teaching hospitals but in Northern Ireland it is based at a clinic in the community. Some hospitals without milk banks provide collecting centres for milk and there are also some centres which act as milk depots for the collection of milk. Milk collected at a satellite or milk depot is sent to a milk bank for it to be processed and distributed for use. Milk banks ensure that all members of staff handling donor breast milk are trained.
Benefits of Breastmilk
It is recognised that the health of preterm babies benefits greatly from the ingestion of their mothers own breastmilk due to a number of factors including the presence of active enzymes that enhance the maturation of the underdeveloped gut, anti-infective properties which protect the newborn from infection and earlier tolerance of full enteral feeding. As donor milk is usually provided by women who deliver at term, and is pasteurised, that it cannot be presumed that it will have the same effect as mothers’ own breastmilk.
Milk Processing......
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