Angela knows firsthand how important donor milk can be. After a “normal and healthy” pregnancy, her water broke six weeks early and her son Oliver was born at 34 weeks. His premature arrival had him whisked away to the NICU shortly after birth.
Oliver received donor milk while in the NICU as his first source of nourishment while Angela worked to establish her own milk production. He was able to go home after 11 days, and she was able establish a supply. In fact, Angela began to produce more breastmilk than Oliver needed. The NICU nurses informed her that she could donate her excess breastmilk to Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas.
“A donor fed my preemie when I couldn’t,” Angela said. “I wanted to be that person for a baby in need.”
Angela started the process to become a donor in November, and has already dropped off one donation. As she sets aside more for her next donation, she’s also perfecting her breastfeeding and pumping technique. She began with a very strict routine, feeding and pumping every three hours, but has become more baby-led as Oliver has gotten older.
“With preemies, you have to follow a 2.5 to 3 hour feeding schedule as you don’t have that flexibility at first, but as your baby grows to full term, they instinctively adapt their own eating habits,” she said.
For preemie parents who are breastfeeding like her, Angela encourages them to stay strong. “It does get easier and it’s totally worthwhile,” she said.
Today, Oliver is a happy, healthy 7 month old who is thriving after his premature start. Angela is thankful for the moms who made it possible for Oliver to receive donor milk, and is happy to do the same for others in need.
For more information about becoming a milk donor, click here.
From the very beginning, Ronnie has been a fighter. His mother, Nikki, was admitted to the hospital in her 27th week of pregnancy due to preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome. Doctors planned to keep Nikki in the hospital until she hit 32 weeks, and then deliver her baby. However, her complications continued and at one point, Ronnie’s heart rate dropped so low that a nurse jumped onto Nikki’s bed and began shaking her stomach. It became clear that it was time to deliver. Ronnie entered the world at exactly 28 weeks – Nikki’s fifth child and fifth premature baby.
Nikki and her husband Ron were no strangers to the NICU, having spent a collective total of 100 days there with their four older children. When Ronnie headed there after his birth, they soon had to decide how to feed him. Nikki did not feel comfortable pumping for him, as she was on blood pressure medication and worried how that could affect her son. Formula also seemed like a risky choice for his fragile state. After much thought, the family put their faith in donor milk.
“We are so blessed to have had this choice,” Nikki said.
Ronnie needed help breathing for the first six weeks of his life – he used a CPAP for a month, followed by a nasal cannula for two weeks. He had a hole in his heart that closed after about four months, and while he had the beginning stages of retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), the condition resolved after about five months. After 66 days in the NICU, Ronnie joined his family at home.
He is now a happy and healthy 7 month old, receiving physical therapy to help with his delays in development. Nikki believes that donor milk provided Ronnie with the right foundation and nutrition he needed to grow. “Ronnie flourished in the NICU and had no issues like NEC or other digestion problems, which allowed his body to fight for his life,” she said.
Donor moms, in Nikki’s opinion, are true angels. “I am so thankful for each and every drop they donate,” she said. “They are the most selfless and generous women in the world!”
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
Premature birth may be less common today than it was in the past, but it is still a major health problem. In the United States, it is the leading killer of newborns, and preemies are at risk for additional health problems throughout their lives. To bring attention to this widespread issue, the March of Dimes recognizes World Prematurity Day each year on November 17.
Donor milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas nourishes the most fragile infants, most of whom are preemies. In honor of World Prematurity Day, below is a previously posted blog article about Liam, a former donor milk recipient, and his mother who he inspired to become a milk donor herself:
A long journey to wellness began for baby Liam after his premature arrival at 26 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces. His parents, Cereena and Austin, describe him as a "true warrior", battling and overcoming a common yet serious intestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
Admitted to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Liam was treated with antibiotics and fortified donor breastmilk. Like a lot of moms of preemies, Cereena's milk supply wasn't adequate after giving birth so early. Liam's neonatologist prescribed donor milk and explained that premature babies need breastmilk to provide proper nutrients and prevent life-threatening complications. Liam gained weight and won the battle.
Over time, Cereena ended up pumping more milk than Liam needed and decided to become a donor. “I wanted to provide milk for the babies who need it most and reduce any worry or stress for those mothers who try very hard to produce breastmilk, but can't,” she said.
Cereena learned about MMBNT from Dr. Susan Sward-Comunelli, Liam’s neonatologist, who helped found the non-profit organization in 2004. She describes the donor approval process as "thorough yet easy".
"The paperwork was minimal but they asked important questions; things that I would want to know as a mother whose child would receive donor milk,” Cereena said. “The best part is knowing that all donors have their blood screened."
For Cereena and Austin, donating milk is a way to give back, knowing others helped Liam recover. Cereena explains, "All you want to do is protect and provide for your child and breastmilk can do both."
For more information about becoming a donor, click here.
At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we know the great impact breastmilk can have on babies’ lives. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that because of its benefits, human milk should be fed to all preterm infants, and when a mother’s own milk is unavailable, human donor milk should be used.
However, there is still a need to spread awareness about its life-saving properties. That’s where the Miracle Milk Stroll comes in.
The Miracle Milk Stroll is a casual walking event designed to raise awareness of and support for the human milk cause. Various organizations host strolls across the country to get as many breastfeeding moms, advocates and their loved ones involved as possible.
Net profits from fundraising efforts surrounding the Stroll will be distributed among the beneficiaries selected for this year – all nonprofits focused on providing human milk to sick babies. These include the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, NEC Society, La Leche League USA and the United States Lactation Consultant Association.
Miracle Milk is a project of the Best for Babes Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to changing the cultural landscape surrounding breastfeeding and human milk. This is the third year Best for Babes has hosted this national event.
Staff at MMBNT are excited to host a Stroll site for the first time this year. The strolling group will meet at 10:00 am Saturday, May 14 in Fairmount Park, located near the MMBNT office in Fort Worth on W. Maddox Avenue between 5th Avenue and Henderson Street. The 1.2 mile route will take strollers to MMBNT and back by way of the popular Magnolia Avenue. Refreshments will be provided at MMBNT.
One in eight babies is born prematurely, meaning there is a great need for human milk to help these fragile infants survive and thrive. Events such as the Miracle Milk Stroll shed light on this need and strengthen the community of human milk supporters. We look forward to seeing Fort Worth-area supporters at our site and raising awareness about “liquid gold” in our own backyard.
Click here to register for the Fort Worth Miracle Milk Stroll, and click here to RSVP to the Facebook event.