While welcoming a new baby is an exciting time, navigating motherhood can be tricky. Having a strong support system can be key, and for many moms, that team includes a lactation consultant. Lactation consultants are trained in clinical management of breastfeeding and work with moms to help them meet their breastfeeding goals and work through problems they may have.
A certified lactation consultant is known as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, or IBCLC. This certification comes from the International Lactation Consultant Association, and gives moms the peace of mind that the professional they’re working with is well-qualified to help her with breastfeeding.
At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we have two IBCLCs on our staff. Donor coordinator Carol says that in her experience as an IBCLC, many parents are surprised by the breastfeeding process. “Moms who have not breastfed before do not realize how intense the first couple of weeks of breastfeeding are,” she said. She’s spent a lot of time assuring moms that it is normal to struggle, and that things will get better.
She also emphasizes the importance of support for new moms and how it positively impacts their experiences, especially early on when struggles can be more pronounced. “Once the early days, or first 6 weeks, are over, things tend to settle down and become more of what mom and dad had expected,” Carol said.
Every mom’s experience is unique, and there are a number of ways to find a support system. Working with an IBCLC is just one of the many great options moms have when they are looking for resources. For more information about IBCLCs, visit the ILCA website here.
Necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, is a severe disease affecting premature infants which causes parts of the intestine to die. A NEC diagnosis is devastating, and can often turn fatal. Jennifer Canvasser is all too familiar with the disease. Her son Micah lost his battle with NEC when he was just 11 months old. After her loss, Jennifer saw a need for a group dedicated to fighting this disease and protecting the babies at risk. In order to promote research, advocacy and support for those affected by NEC, she founded the NEC Society.
The NEC Society is always looking for new ways to support its community, and this year brought a new opportunity. It hosted its first ever NEC Symposium last week at the University of California at Davis. During this conference, medical professionals discussed the current pathogenesis, prevention and treatment of NEC; created a forum for collaboration; discussed empowerment of NEC-affected families and much more. Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas Medical Director, Erin Hamilton Spence, represented MMBNT at the symposium.
“The NEC Society’s first symposium was unlike any conference I’ve been to,” Dr. Hamilton Spence said. “It focused on families and their experience, while teaching doctors, lactation consultants and families the areas of hope for wiping out this disease. I learned a great deal, and will definitely be going back.”
It’s important to be at the forefront of issues that affect the population served by milk banking. The NEC Symposium was a great opportunity to network with the top minds in this field, and we were grateful for the chance to connect with these colleagues for such an important issue.
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
For our donors, recipients, volunteers and other members of our milk bank family, the mission and services of Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas are common knowledge. However, there are many people who don’t know about milk banking, or that there is a milk bank right in the heart of Fort Worth. There are those in the community who could benefit from donor milk or help spread the word to others if they simply were aware.
Thanks to an award from the ToolBox Grants Fund at the North Texas Community Foundation, the dream of reaching more people in Fort Worth is becoming a reality. The grant MMBNT received is for a community awareness campaign designed to reach people in and around the city.
The first piece of our campaign, a half-page ad in 360 West Magazine, hit mailboxes last week. Later this month, our new billboard will debut at the corner of Camp Bowie Boulevard and Bryant Irvin Road in west Fort Worth, and remain there through mid-summer.
More advertisements and elements will be released throughout the spring and summer, all with a goal of educating the community about MMBNT and donor human milk. We are so thankful for this support from the North Texas Community Foundation, and if you spot one of our ads while you’re out and about, be sure to snap a photo and let us know!
Melissa’s oversupply of breastmilk created a huge surplus saved up in her freezer. Knowing that this milk could benefit fragile babies in need, she searched for a local milk bank and found The Gathering Place, the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas depot in Miami, Florida. She connected with MMBNT through the depot and has already donated 2,000 ounces of breastmilk that her daughter, Viviana Grace, doesn’t need.
Viviana is healthy and thriving today, but she entered the world with complications. She stopped growing due to velamentous cord insertion, an issue with the placenta, and due to that and her breech presentation, she was born via emergency C-section at 37 weeks and 5 days. Melissa started breastfeeding her right away at the hospital. While Viviana had a good latch, she became cyanotic, or lacked oxygen, when she was nursed.
A swallow study determined that Viviana had a tracheoesophageal fistula, an abnormal connection between the windpipe and esophagus. She was emergency flown to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and at just 5 days old, she underwent surgery to remove the fistula.
“I knew I wanted to breastfeed her, so I pumped around the clock while she was in the NICU to make sure that I maintained my supply,” Melissa said.
After a successful surgery and two weeks in the NICU, Viviana finally went home. Melissa immediately resumed breastfeeding and says it’s done wonders for her daughter, who is now 6 months old. “I attribute her rapid recovery to the power of breastmilk and lots of love,” she said.
Donating breastmilk is Melissa’s way of helping others who start out with complications like Viviana did. To her, donating is “giving another baby the opportunity for improved health status, mental function and recovery in situations with early adversity.
“I’m a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and I would have never appreciated how difficult it can be to be a parent without this experience,” Melissa said. “Life is full of risk and having a child makes you so acutely aware of everything that can go wrong. It has not been an easy road, but having faith in the power of love and the evidence base for breastfeeding and breastmilk has been a beacon of light providing direction and hope that we are doing the right thing.”
For more information about becoming a milk donor, click here.
It is well known that Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). HMBANA is the professional association for nonprofit milk banks in the U.S. and Canada that provides guidelines, operates inspections, fosters communication between member milk banks and does much more to create a community of milk banking professionals.
But what does milk banking look like in the rest of the world? Across the globe, there are milk banks and organizations dedicated to providing the best nutrition for babies in need. Last year, we shared the story of Brazilian milk banks. The Brazilian Human Milk Banks Network consists of more than 200 milk banks and is so widespread that donor moms have their milk picked up from home, sometimes even by police officers or firefighters trained in milk transport.
In Europe, there are more than 200 active milk banks and 17 currently in development. Many countries have their own national associations to regulate the milk banks within their own borders. In turn, those organizations are members of the European Milk Bank Association (EMBA), which unites professionals across Europe. EMBA also promotes research regarding breastmilk and human milk banking. There are 28 countries with membership in EMBA, crossing the continent from as far west as Portugal to as far east as Russia and Turkey.
Milk banking is less developed in other parts of the world, but is becoming more widespread. For example, the first milk bank in Vietnam just opened earlier this year in February. Medical professionals are also working to refine the milk banking system in India.
As milk banking continues expand globally, more and more sick babies will be able to receive the best nutrition possible.
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.