Miracle Milk. make it, donate it, love it.

PreemieC

2,078 Days ago, I delivered a 3 lb, 6 oz baby boy. I kissed his tiny little head and then he was taken away, accompanied by his daddy, to the NICU one floor above me. This is how I entered the world of motherhood. It was at least 3 hours before I was able to see my child and another 5 more before I was able to hold him and all the various tubes and wires attached to him. PreemieC

 

I had gestational hypertension throughout my first pregnancy. It was discovered early enough at 26 weeks and we knew that regardless of how well controlled we could keep my blood pressure, the chances were VERY high that I was going to have to deliver the baby before we reached full-term. Outside of my weekly visits to the neonatology clinic for NSTs and ultrasounds, I was put on bed-rest for the remainder of my pregnancy. And I read. I read every book about premature babies that I could find. I learned about the challenges that they face, the complications of early birth and the best practices for how to overcome them.

This was how I learned about the benefits of kangaroo care and babywearing. And this was the first time I heard the phrase "liquid gold" in regards to colostrum and breastmilk. This was also when I learned about the #2 killer of NICU babies, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). In medical speak, "necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is one of the most common gastrointestinal emergencies in the newborn infant. It is a disorder characterized by ischemic necrosis of the intestinal mucosa, which is associated with inflammation, invasion of enteric gas forming organisms, and dissection of gas into the muscularis and portal venous system." (1) In laymans' terms, part of a baby's immature gut basically dies and needs to be surgically removed. It is extremely painful and has both short and long-term complications.

I was fortunate to carry my baby to 35 weeks and have a rather uneventful, albeit quick, delivery. My son was very small and very jaundiced, but otherwise healthy. He even ripped off his oxygen tube in those first few hours in the NICU (a fact my husband is still kind of proud of). Because we had done our research before heading into the NICU, both my husband and I were very insistent that our child only ever be fed breastmilk. I started pumping within hours of his birth and then set my alarm for every three hours and religiously pumped either at the hospital or at home to ensure that my milk came in and that he would have enough human breast milk at all times.

Some of the babies in our "pod" in the NICU were not as fortunate and had indeed succumbed to NEC. I remember the young mom of the baby next to us coming in every day to change her baby's ostomy bag (she insisted on doing it herself) and hoping that this would be the day that the doctors told her that his gut was healed, he could have his next surgery and that the hole in his belly would be closed up.

NEC sickens 5,000 U.S. and Canadian premature babies per year, of which roughly 500 die from the disease. Feeding fragile and compromised babies human milk – whether from the mother or by donor — has been shown to reduce the risk of NEC by 79%. For all these reasons, The Canadian Pediatric Society says “human breastmilk provides a bioactive matrix of benefits that cannot be replicated by any other source of nutrition.” The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends human milk, by mother or by donor, for all preterm infants. Both the AAP and CPS clearly recognize the life-saving power of donor milk for preterm babies.(2)

Yesterday, I participated in the first Best for Babes Miracle Milk™ Mother's Day Stroll. This North American campaign was started  to raise awareness, funds and donor milk to save lives and spare the suffering of our most fragile population -- preterm and compromised babies. This is the first year for the Miracle Milk Stroll and Edmonton was one of almost 70 sites – 11 in Canada, 57 in the US and 2 on military bases in England who participated.

I3MiracleMilk

 

There are still NICUs within Canada and the US who do not or can not provide human milk for these preemie babies and this is why we stroll. To raise more awareness of the importance of human milk for human babies and the need for donor milk and for more milk banks across North America. Parents, health care providers and hospital administrators need to know more about the critical importance of an exclusive human milk diet in a preterm baby’s care or about the accessibility, safety and life-saving power of donor milk if mother’s own milk is not available.

I was extremely proud that the kids and I got to be a part of this inaugural campaign and encourage you to find out more about how you can help these tiny babies in your community.

MMStroll2014

Yes, that is my preemie now in the grey sweatshirt. 

Find out where your local milk bank is and donate and please check out the Best for Babes website and all the ways you can help mothers and babies.

In Canada, we now have four human milk banks that you can donate to {monetarily or milkily} in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. Edmonton has it own Milk Bank Depot at the Grey Nuns Hospital where donations can be dropped off as well.

Tell your friends about how important human milk is for these compromised babies and how easy and safe it is to donate milk!

And of course, wear your Miracle Milk™ T-shirt with pride!

MiracleMilkT

 

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!

natasha~

 

 

 

1.  Neu J. Necrotizing enterocolitis: the search for a unifying pathogenic theory leading to prevention. Pediatr Clin North Am 1996; 43:409.

2. Fast Facts: Miracle Milk from Best for Babes foundation.