By: Margaret Larson, RD
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months can decrease (1):
- Respiratory tract infections during the first year of life
- Gastrointestinal tract infections
- Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Childhood leukemia and lymphoma
Along with these health benefits, breastfeeding provides balanced nutrition for the growing baby. A woman’s body is truly amazing; it can customize the breastmilk composition to meet the unique needs of her baby. For example, if a baby is born premature, mother’s milk adjusts to provide additional protein and nutrients. As the baby grows, the composition of the breastmilk changes and adapts to better fit the needs of the growing baby. And, if the baby or mother is sick, once again, the cellular composition of breastmilk changes to provide added protection and healing for the baby. The unique changes that occur in breast milk suggest an immunological link between mother and child. Breastmilk truly is important! (2)
When infants are born early, some with a birth weight of less than 2 pounds, they may be transferred into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Simultaneously, when labor and delivery happen well before the due day, a mother’s body may not be ready to start producing milk or the mother may be sick and milk production is slowed. When a mom is not able to produce milk or, for some other reason, mom’s milk is not available, we have a beautiful alternative to ensure babies get the nutrition they need to grow and stay healthy.
Portneuf Medical Center’s NICU, as well as numerous NICU’s across the country, purchase milk through accredited milk banks. At present, we work with the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Denver, Colorado. All potential milk donors go through a thorough screening process before being approved as a donor. Once approved, mother’s milk is frozen, collected and sent to the Mothers’ Milk Bank to be pasteurized and tested.
In situations where a mother is unable to produce milk, struggling due to preterm birth or unable to provide milk for her child, moms can rest assured that their babies can receive the nutrition they need to grow and be healthy while they are in our NICU.
Portneuf Medical Center also serves as a donation collection site for the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Denver, Colorado. Mothers who have additional milk production, beyond what their little one may need, may apply to be a donor and help infants in need. To learn more how you can become a donor, please visit www.portneuf.org/service/women-children/mothers-milk-bank-donation-and-collection-site/ or at www.rmchildren.org.