Just picture it: a lawn full of mothers and children, all breastfeeding at the same time, supporting and encouraging each other. It may sound like a scene out of your imagination, but it’s a real event that happens every year right here in Fort Worth. This public celebration of breastfeeding and families is called The Big Latch On.
Fort Worth is one of hundreds of cities to join the global initiative when mothers around the world will gather to breastfeed together. The goal is to latch all participating children at the same time for one minute. It happens annually during World Breastfeeding Week in August. The Fort Worth event takes place in conjunction with a free Family Expo from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, August 5 at Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
Participating moms and children will head out to the Botanic Garden lawn at 10:30 a.m. to breastfeed together for one minute. During the 2016 event, 277 children latched at the same time. This year, more than 40 vendors and activities, including a silent auction, photo booth and photo buttons will be located indoors in Redbud and Oak Hall.
“I am excited to see the Family Expo & Big Latch On continue to grow in its sixth year. The event highlights the reality that our community really does support breastfeeding for all families,” Amanda Alvarez, chair of Tarrant County Breastfeeding Coalition, said. “We have had great success in improving breastfeeding education, advocacy and resource development in Tarrant County, but our work is not done. Families still struggle to reach their breastfeeding goals so we continue our efforts to build a supportive and knowledgeable network within the community. When families, businesses and community organizations come together to celebrate breastfeeding, everyone wins!”
The 6th Annual Family Expo & Big Latch On is hosted by Tarrant County Breastfeeding Coalition, Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas and JPS Health Network. Be sure to RSVP to the event by clicking here to receive event updates and reminders. Participants in the Big Latch On should register on the global website here.
Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) opened its newest breastmilk donation site at Nacogdoches Women’s Services, located at 623 Russell Blvd., to make milk donation convenient for East Texas moms.
Mothers who want to donate their excess breastmilk can drop off their donations at Nacogdoches Women’s Services, where staff will securely store the milk before sending it to MMBNT in Fort Worth for pasteurization and shipment to critically ill infants. Donations are accepted Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to work with our community to help facilitate donated breastmilk to save the lives of medically fragile babies,” Marcia Nelson, Director of Nacogdoches Women’s Services, said.
MMBNT collects donor human milk from more than 40 donation sites, or depots, throughout North Texas and surrounding states. Nacogdoches Women's Services is the first depot in the Nacogdoches area and the third in East Texas.
Milk bank staff screen all potential milk donors through medical histories and blood tests. Once approved, donors freeze the extra milk their own babies don’t need and take it to a depot close to home.
When milk arrives at MMBNT, staff log it into a computer barcode and tracking system. It then undergoes processing, which includes thawing, nutritional analysis, pasteurization and bacterial testing.
Donor human milk is the standard of care for premature infants who have severe feeding problems, intestinal malformations and life-threatening complications such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Eighty percent of MMBNT’s donor milk serves babies in hospital NICUs, while 20 percent serves medically needy babies at home.
Those who are interested in becoming donors can start the process by calling MMBNT’s toll-free number, 1-866-810-0071. For more information about Nacogdoches Women’s Services, call 936-305-5277.
Many of our milk donors learn about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas through friends and family, hospitals or online searches, but for some, all it takes is a simple car ride. That’s what happened when Nicole drove down Magnolia Avenue and our office caught her eye.
As a mom producing milk in excess of her daughter Ma’Kaila’s needs, Nicole knew MMBNT was a perfect place for her. She went through donor screening, a process she called “easy.” In the months that have followed, she has donated more than 500 ounces of breastmilk to feed fragile infants.
“It means a lot,” Nicole says of knowing she’s helping so many in need. “I’m able to help a mother who can’t breastfeed, and feed babies who need mother’s milk.”
While Nicole has an abundance of milk, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t faced her own challenges. Her busy, 7 days a week work schedule can make breastfeeding and pumping difficult. Living near a depot, as well as working near MMBNT, provides some convenience to her schedule. “I endure and persevere,” she said. Ma’Kaila is currently 10 months old, and Nicole hopes to continue nursing up to age 2.
Nicole has enjoyed her experience as a donor, and encourages others who are doing the same. “You are doing a good deed,” she said. “The families who are getting the milk will appreciate it.”
For more information about becoming a donor, click here.
So many of the fragile infants we serve are right here in our own North Texas community. When we have orders from local hospitals or for outpatients, we send the milk out with our courier to ensure it arrives safely. However, the need for donor milk extends beyond our geographical borders, so we often send milk out of the area and even out of state.
In fact, we served 131 hospitals in 2016. In addition to our local hospitals, this number included hospitals in West Texas, East Texas and in surrounding states. When orders have to travel these long distances, they are shipped overnight via FedEx.
Keeping donor milk frozen during this long journey requires extra precaution. Each shipment contains a thermometer and a cold chain verification form, which ensures the recipient that the milk stayed in the safe temperature range during its trip.
The milk remains frozen in transit thanks to the dry ice included in each box. The dry ice is carefully packaged and the outside of the shipping box is clearly labeled to make sure each special delivery is handled properly. Our FedEx courier picks up these shipments every afternoon to start the chain of delivery to our hospitals.
For more information about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
When you think of holidays and recognitions in May, Mother’s Day is at the top of the list. However, it’s not the only time dedicated to women – the month of May is also Preeclampsia Awareness Month.
Present only during pregnancy and the postpartum period, preeclampsia is a serious disorder that affects approximately 5 to 8 percent of all pregnancies. It’s characterized by high blood pressure in the mother, but also affects the unborn baby. The only cure for preeclampsia is delivery, so depending on when the condition develops, it can be a contributing factor to prematurity.
It usually occurs after 20 weeks gestation and can happen up to six weeks postpartum. Symptoms include swelling, sudden weight gain, headaches and changes in vision. The cause of preeclampsia is still being researched, though several theories focus on the production of proteins in the placenta.
There is no definite way to prevent preeclampsia, but making good choices such as limiting fried or junky food, exercising regularly and getting enough rest can help you manage your health. Simply being aware of the condition is also beneficial. Recently, the ABC sitcom Black-ish addressed preeclampsia on its season finale and shed some important light on this disorder.
Some of the fragile babies we serve are born prematurely because of complications like preeclampsia. As it's a condition experienced by many people in our community, it's important to raise awareness in order to support those who are affected.
For more information about the babies we serve, click here.