Why should we donate breast milk?

  • Because a mother’s breast milk donation is the only way a critically ill, premature infant can receive a purely human milk-based diet.
  • Also, studies have shown that premature or critically ill infants (unable to avail their mother’s milk) who were fed donor’s breast milk had significantly decreased the odds of developing Necrotizing Entercolitis (NEC).
  • Human breast milk is vital to the health and well being of all babies, but for babies born premature or critically ill, donated breast milk has the potential to make the difference between a long hospital stay or a quicker recovery.
  • By donating breast milk, you provide critically ill infants with an important chance for survival.
  • Human milk fortifier is concentrated milk protein that is added to the milk a premature baby’s own mother is providing for her child. Some premature babies can weigh less than 3 pounds at birth. These babies need to receive extra protein and nutrition, more than their own mother’s breast milk can provide. By adding human milk fortifier, you can up to triple the amount of protein a premature infant can receive (Milk fortifiers made out of a mother’s milk is the best for a preemie or a critically ill infant).

The need for breast milk feeding

In an age that thrives on globalisation and more, turning into an amalgamation of everything, a mother’s milk for a child needs to be unadulterated. The only source of food which works best when fed directly to the infant. You ask why? Why can’t we use powdered or cow’s milk? Let’s take a look as in why should one feed their infant breast-milk.

Breast milk is a perfect blend of macronutrients (fats, carbohydrates and proteins) micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and development factors. Fat present in the breast milk provides 50-60% caloric intake for the baby; while DHA and AA are of prime importance because they provide visual, neural, cognitive development also aiding and enhancing it. Carbohydrates like Lactose and Glucose accounts for another source of energy to the baby, while proteins play a structural role. It also has high bioavailability of vitamins like calcium, phosphates, iron and copper which play a major role in bone development and enzyme synthesis.

Also it has many substances that formulas don’t have that protect your baby from many diseases and infections. In fact, breastfed babies are less likely to have:

  • Ear infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia, wheezing, and bronchiolitis
  • Other bacterial and viral infections, such as meningitis

Research also suggests that breastfeeding may help to protect against obesity, diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), asthma, eczema, colitis, and some cancers.

And no cow’s milk or powdered milk in the whole wide world can provide your baby with such a comprehensive, balanced and nutrient filled diet.

Challenges faced while breast feeding

Breast-feeding is necessary for the baby and the most natural way to feed an infant, but that doesn’t mean things will go smoothly for everyone. It requires a bit of patience and time to master the skill. So, be ready for a few challenges on your way to motherhood:

  • Low milk supply

This usually happens when your breasts are unable to produce enough milk to meet your infant’s nutritional needs. But there is definitely nothing to worry about if this is happening when your baby is 3-6 weeks older as your body is just trying to adjust to the needs of your baby. If this is the case before this time period you just need to signal your body to produce more and synchronise with when your baby needs to feed.  However, you need to beware of contraceptive pills during your breastfeeding period as such pills can cause you to produce less milk.

  • Sore nipples

Some mothers experience sore nipples in the first few weeks of breastfeeding. This is mainly because your infant is not nursing through both your nipple and areola in the mouth. All you need to do is trying and help your baby to open his/her mouth wider taking in more of the nipple and areola, and not the nipple alone, causing the pain.
If your nipples are cracked or bleeding, use a hydro-gel pad to keep your bra from sticking to your nipple. This will reduce pain and help your nipple heal faster. You can also express a few drops and rub it over your nipple with clean fingers then let your nipples air dry, if possible. Breast milk has natural healing emollients and is readily available.

  • Engorgement

This usually happens during the first week of breastfeeding as your body is still adjusting to your baby’s needs. This is when your breasts become too full of milk causing them to harden and therefore the pain. Engorgement can also happen anytime you do not breastfeed or pump for an extended period of time.
To prevent engorgement, allow your baby to breastfeed as often and as long as he/she desires. Also, when you are away from your baby, just carry your breast pump if not just hand express on the same schedule that your baby breastfeeds.