It’s no secret that breast milk is best for newborns. Sure, there are plenty of formula alternatives that serve their purpose just fine for mothers who for whatever reason can’t or don’t breastfeed their babies. And no woman should be made to feel badly about the choice she has made or had to make when it comes to breastfeeding her children. But that is not what this post is about.
This post is about the crisis many milk banks are facing with decreased breast milk donations, what that means for the NICU babies and babies with chronic illnesses who depend on this milk, and how you can help.
Prematurely born infants and those with congenital or chronic illnesses are especially in need of the benefits that come from breast milk. The nutrients found in breast milk can help premature infants both survive and develop a strong immunity against potential infections. Additionally, according to Medical News Today, babies with such ailments as congenital heart disease and Down’s syndrome “develop immunity for such disorders through breast milk.”
While donor milk can be distributed to and is beneficial for any infant, those who need it most are often premature babies. The nutritional benefits and immunological benefits abound. Premature babies have underdeveloped digestive systems and can digest breast milk and its crucial proteins and fats more easily than formula. Additionally, breast milk is believed to reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition where the intestines become infected and can begin to die (Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine).
When these little premature miracles who are in such need of the benefits of breast milk go without it, it’s a double whammy for them.
Breast milk is also beneficial for a baby’s immune system. Premature babies, like all breastfed babies, face a reduced risk of infections, general illness, NEC, sepsis, meningitis, and respiratory infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis when they receive breast milk. Breast milk also passes on antibodies that strengthen a premature baby’s immune system (Source: Breastfeeding Benefits for Preemies). So when these little premature miracles who are in such need of the benefits of breast milk go without it, it’s a double whammy for them.
If you are able and willing, won’t you consider donating your breast milk? It’s entirely safe for you, can be done right in your own home, and shipped to an in-need milk bank that will pay for the cost of shipping and screening.
To find out more information about donating breast milk, visit Mothers’ Milk Bank, a non-profit organization that’s been helping save the lives of babies since 1974, or visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, a non-profit association of donor human milk banks established in 1985 to set standards for milk banks.
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