Saturday, August 7, 2010

Prescription Milk

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Guest post from Kathy.

There is no substitute for breastmilk when it comes to health, and premature babies are particularly at risk. While many mothers pump for their own babies, some women have trouble making enough milk. If you have "enough and to spare," I'd urge you to look into donating your milk to a milk bank or local hospital if possible. Even though all babies benefit from breastmilk, premature babies are more vulnerable to the side effects of formula, with formula-fed preemies having something like double the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (compared to their breastmilk-fed peers), which can be fatal. By donating breastmilk to a baby who needs it, you can literally give the gift of life.

Soon after my younger son was born, a friend adopted a newborn, and I pumped extra milk for him. Even though the baby was a normal, healthy newborn, and didn't "need" breastmilk like some of these babies in this video, I felt wonderful about giving him the gift of breastmilk that neither his birth mother nor his adoptive mother were able to give*. Yes, it took time, but it was worth it. If I ever have another baby, I will definitely donate extra milk if at all possible.

*[I feel the need to qualify what I mean when I say that his adoptive mother "wasn't able" to give the baby breastmilk. It is important to note that adoptive mothers can breastfeed at least partially, even if some are not able to fully feed their infants. However, this particular adoption was actually a surprise (long story, but they found out about the baby one day before he was born and took him home one day after he was born), so she didn't have time to prepare prior to the adoption.]

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