DONATE BREAST MILK AND SAVE LIVESDr. Kedar Sawleshwarkar
Monica is a first-time mother, who gave birth to a beautiful baby girl ten months ago. She dotes on her baby and is very cautious of feeding her right. However, of late, she has been facing a problem that many mothers have to face – she has not been lactating enough. She cannot bear to see her little darling cry incessantly from hunger but does not know what to do. Her strong urge to feed her baby took her to a Human Milk facility in the city, where lactating mothers donate breast milk for other infants such as Monica’s daughter.
Why Is Breast Milk Important?
Breast milk is the most nutritional food (and the only one at that!) for newborn babies. Not only does it helps in the baby’s growth, but also protects against viruses and infections. Research has consistently shown that breastfed children are more immune to various diseases like diabetes, leukemia, etc.
However, there are instances where some newborn babies are unable to benefit from breast milk for a variety of reasons – communicable diseases in the mother or lack of lactation
In such cases, it is the baby that suffers. Why should a baby be deprived of the nutritional benefits of breast milk? Surely, these babies cannot be condemned to suffer from lifelong health issues, just because they missed out on consuming breast milk.
Consequently, these babies end up feeding formula from a bottle which further increases their risks of long-term ailments like obesity, diabetes and gastrointestinal issues.
As awareness about breast milk donation has increased, more mothers are coming forward to donate their breast milk to save the lives of premature babies.
As per WHO Guidelines, when mother’s milk is not available, the first alternative is to feed the baby screened pasteurized human donor milk Human milk has unique benefits like immunity factors, growth hormones and complex sugars which provide a perfect balance helping the baby to grow and thrive..
Can Anyone Donate Breast Milk?
A mother who is lactating currently or till recently and has surplus milk is qualified to become a prospective breast milk donor. According to Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), you can donate milk if you are:
- Ready for free blood test to rule out any infection
- Has enough milk to feed your baby and then donate the excess milk
And you are disqualified from donating if you:
- Have tested positive for HIV, Hepatitis B or C, HTLV, or Syphilis
- Use illegal drugs, marijuana or tobacco
- Consume alcohol daily
- Use prohibited herbal supplements or medications
- Have undergone tissue or organ transplant, any blood transfusion/blood product within the prior 12 month
- Have mastitis or fungal infection of the nipple or areola, varicella zoster infections or active herpes simplex in the thoracic or mammary region.
How To Become A Breast Milk Donor?
After it is made sure that the mother is healthy, the next step is to find a human milk facility, which acts as a network between donor mothers who can donate breast milk and recipient babies who require breast milk. The latter can then get the required amount of milk from the facility where care is taken to ensure that the milk has been screened, pasteurized and stored as per recommended guidelines.
Any lactating mother can get in touch with these facilities, where they are required to sign a consent form along with submitting their medical history. The donors are also required to submit their latest blood reports on HIV and other serious medical conditions.
After verification, donors store their breast milk in sterilized bottles, which are picked up by the human milk facility and pasteurized as per guidelines. Eventually, this bottle of health will find its way to a newborn baby, who will no longer be deprived of nutritious breast milk.
The Way Forward In Breast Milk Donation
The act of breastfeeding is not only to provide milk but also helps in bonding with the baby. However, many children do not have the opportunity to be breastfed by their mother and they, in turn, miss out on the most vital nutrients that are essential in their tender stages of life.
Although there are many human breast milk facilities in the country, (one starting as early as 1989!) donating breast milk in India is still a notion that many have not heard of. With time, a number of such facilities have opened up, where new mothers can donate breast milk instead of throwing it away.
Monica’s little girl is now a healthy baby, all thanks to the timely intervention of the doctor who recommended donor human milk and the selfless mothers who came forward to donate their breast milk.
If you are a lactating mother and wish to donate, take the first step today! Get in touch with NeoLacta Lifesciences to donate breast milk and save the life of babies in need of mother’s milk.