Premature infants enter the world in a fragile state. Without the immune systems of full-term babies, they have an increased risk for complications and require special care that often includes a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit. One complication that can affect premature infants is sepsis, a life-threatening illness, which is recognized during the month of September with Sepsis Awareness Month.
Sepsis is a severe infection that is found in the blood and spreads throughout the body. There are a variety of symptoms, including apnea (difficulty breathing), decreased heart rate, temperature instability and pale or mottled coloring or jaundice.
While this infection can be a cause for concern, studies have shown that breastmilk lowers the risk of late-onset sepsis, or sepsis that occurs after the first week of life. In fact, every 0.15 ounces of human milk per pound that a very low birth weight infant receives during the first 28 days of life decreases the odds of sepsis by almost 20 percent.
When a mother’s own milk is not available, Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas provides fragile babies with miraculous, life-saving donor human milk, and helps protect them from complications such as this. For more information about donor milk, click here.
Time for another Throwback Thursday! We may have gathered these comments for another article a while back, but they still ring true for many moms. Take a look at what moms had to say when we asked them to finish the statement, "You know you're a breastfeeding/pumping mom when..."
You cry over spilled milk.
"You have cried over spilled milk or yelled at your husband for throwing some out!"
"You break into tears when your milk bag breaks."
You appreciate a designated, clean place to breastfeed or pump.
"The first thing you think of when doing ANYTHING (work, running errands, date with hubby, meetings, etc.) is where/when will I nurse/pump?"
"You catch yourself smiling whenever you find a special little room in public places reserved for breastfeeding/pumping moms!"
Your clothing options change quite a bit.
"You plan what top you'll be wearing ahead of time... at least I do!"
"All your bras resemble trap doors."
"You don't wear regular bras anymore because it's just easier to wear nursing bras all the time."
"When you dream of putting on your breast pads..."
You receive support from unexpected places.
"People at work know your pump schedule and remind you it's time to go pump (and I've only been back to work for a little over a week)!"
"When your 4 year old daughter feeds her pretend baby like mommy and only bottle feeds when she 'goes to work.'"
You are prepared for just about anything.
"You've pumped while ordering a bean burrito from the Taco Bell drive-thru (using your pump's battery pack and your nursing cover, of course)."
"Your drawer at work is filled with extra sets of shields and storage bags. And you have a cheap, single manual pump for when you forget your pump altogether."
"You have a 32-ounce (or larger) cup of water with you at all times."
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
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.
A big part of a pumping mom’s routine is keeping up with her milk stash. And for many of these moms, having an organized system saves them time and makes milk easier to manage. While there are countless ways to store your stash, the following guidelines are great for ensuring milk storage doesn’t take over your life – or your freezer.
1. Label each bag with your name and pump date. When you include your name on each bag as it's stored, then those bags are ready for daycare, donating, or any other purpose that would require identification on your milk.
2. Fill to suggested volume, no more than 2/3 full. Bags can be filled to other volumes, but by leaving a little room, the breastmilk has space to expand while it freezes.
3. Freeze flat. This allows milk bags to fit more efficiently into smaller or designated spaces in your freezer, providing more space for your other frozen goods.
While these guidelines are great suggestions, we do accept milk stored in other ways. Donors often bring us milk that’s been frozen in bottles, bags that aren’t flat, or a number of other methods. At the end of the day, every ounce makes a difference at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. As long as we have a donor’s name and/or ID number with her donation, it can be deposited into our system and processed to feed the fragile babies we serve.
For more information about donating breastmilk, click here.
Pumping is a selfless act, requiring precious time and dedication. One of the many important parts of the process is cleaning the breast pump. Proper cleaning helps prevent bacteria contamination, and it helps create a more efficient process.
When a mom pumps, she takes on a repetitive routine of pumping, labeling and freezing. While adding cleaning to the mix may seem monotonous, it is an important step to prevent contamination and make things easier in the long run. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a great resource for breast pump information, and features a page dedicated to breast pump cleaning.
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) also has recommended cleaning guidelines, which are reposted here from a previous blog post:
1. Wash hands well.
2. Disassemble the pump kit.
3. Rinse pump parts with cool water before washing with hot water to remove milk protein residue. Residue can adhere to surfaces and provide a place for bacteria to grow.
4. Wash with warm soapy water. Some rinsed pieces can be cleaned in the upper rack of a dishwasher. To minimize the risk of contaminating pump parts with bacteria, they should not be placed in a sink, but washed in a separate bowl of clean water.
5. Rinse thoroughly.
6. Drip dry on a clean paper towel.
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
For many families, the holiday season means travel season. And if you’re a breastfeeding mom, those holiday trips can get a little more complicated. Whether you’re hitting the road or catching a flight, here are some great reminders and tips for traveling with breastmilk.
Pumped breastmilk stored in a small, insulated cooler with frozen ice packs will stay fresh for 24 hours. Keep these storage guidelines in mind: freshly expressed milk is safe at room temperature (60-85 degrees Fahrenheit) for 4 to 6 hours. Refrigerated milk should be used or frozen within 24 hours. Breastmilk can be frozen for up to 3 months in a regular freezer and up to 6 months in a deep freezer.
Airports and Breastmilk
As an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has the following regulations regarding traveling with breastmilk:
Breastmilk, along with formula and juice, can be carried in quantities larger than 3.4 ounces (100 mL) and does not need to fit within a quart-sized bag. It should be separated from other liquids, gels and aerosols that are limited to 3.4 ounces.
When you go through security, inform the TSA officer that you are carrying breastmilk in excess of 3.4 ounces.
Breastmilk is typically screened by X-ray. The FDA states that there are no known adverse effects from consuming food or drink screened by X-ray. However, if you do not want it to be screened this way, inform the TSA officer and alternative steps can be taken to clear the liquid.
Ice packs and other accessories used to cool breastmilk are allowed in your carry-on. They are subject to the same screening as described above if they are partially frozen or slushy.
For more information, visit the TSA website.
If traveling internationally, research the regulations at each international airport you visit. Different countries have varying policies regarding breastmilk.
For information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
Katie is a mom to two daughters, Alli and Sadie. Her first breastfeeding experience with Alli was difficult – she struggled to produce enough milk, and because of a painful lip/tongue tie, she and Alli could not nurse. When Katie and Sadie began their breastfeeding journey, though, the situation was quite different and she produced more than Sadie needed.
Because Katie could relate to moms who couldn’t produce their own milk, she was inspired to become a milk donor. She discovered Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas through a Facebook group and soon began the donor screening process. “The process was simple, yet thorough,” Katie said.
Since becoming a donor, Katie has donated 1,117 ounces of breastmilk to MMBNT. Her local depot, Texas Health Harris Methodist HEB, makes it easy to donate close to home. And while breastfeeding moms do develop routines, Katie says she feels like she learns something new every week.
Storage is often something to consider when freezing extra milk, and Katie recommends using an extra deep freezer – either your own or one that belongs to a nearby friend or family member. “Having an extra freezer helped with milk storage immensely,” she said. She also advises delivering milk donations in grocery sacks so they can be quickly unloaded and dropped off at a depot.
Milk donation is vital for premature and critically ill infants, but it’s also beneficial for the mothers who struggle to provide milk for their own children. Having experienced that struggle herself, Katie is grateful to be able to help babies and other moms like her.
“It brings me so much joy to know that the milk God has gifted me with is providing life to babies all around the Metroplex,” Katie said.
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
Throughout the month of August, we have featured stories about breastfeeding from our community and around the world in celebration of Breastfeeding Awareness Month. The Huffington Post shone a light on breastfeeding as well with a great article from Impact Editor Eleanor Goldberg. Take a look at her article about breastfeeding and its role in global issues.
It will cost between $3.3 trillion and $4.5 trillion a year to end hunger, eliminate poverty and achieve 15 other ambitious goals the U.N. hopes to reach by 2030.
But getting help meeting the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals could come from an overlooked resource ― breastfeeding.
World Breastfeeding Week, which ended on Sunday, committed this year’s efforts to demonstrating how the practice may help contribute to achieving the SDGs by improving the health and wellbeing of women and children, and in turn, society at large.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
Recently, we reached out to our moms on the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas Facebook page to share tips for pregnant and new moms. Thanks to our great online community, we have plenty to share with you. Have something to add? Leave us a note in the comment section!
Submissions may be edited for length and/or clarity.
“If you want to breastfeed, do some research before the baby gets here. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it doesn’t always come naturally. Having some extra knowledge on latching positions, the difference between foremilk and hind milk, and knowing somewhat what to expect was huge for me.” – Ariel
“For pregnant moms…take pictures of that belly! And find yourself an IBCLC that you like and are comfortable with. Just in case you encounter problems with breastfeeding, if that’s what you choose to do, you’ll have someone to support you. It’s too stressful to find someone while you’re having difficulties. No sense in adding more stress to your situation.” – Chelle
“Buy the basics first and then only upgrade as needed. You do not need the fanciest baby gear for every aspect of your baby’s life. It is perfectly fine to splurge on the things that truly do make life easier, but save your money and figure out what those splurges are once baby is born.” – Shannon
After Your Baby is Born
“You can’t spoil a newborn. Naps on the chest are amazing and help increase milk production (also great for Mommy to sneak a nap in too).” – Faith
“Don’t give up on nursing. It took ten days for my milk to come in. I had a C-section. I was broken hearted because I couldn’t feed my baby and I was in the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. I pumped for an hour at a time to only get two ounces! Then one day I looked down as something was on my leg…my bottles were overflowing! It is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done! Don’t give up!” – Anna
“Be patient with your new baby. They aren’t crying to make you mad. They always need something if they are crying. Try to actually enjoy midnight changes and nursings, it goes by so fast! Also, everything is just a quick phase! Push through it.” – Kristin
“Trust your gut and don’t panic. Take a deep breath, know that everything seems overwhelming at night and when you are sleep deprived. Rock them to sleep, spoil them rotten. The baby phase goes by so quickly.” – Emily
“Cherish all the morning sickness and stuff. And when they’re born, cherish all the little moments (even when you get pooped on, spit up on, etc.). Before you know it they’re running around on their own.” – Alicia
“Nobody knows your baby like you do. Nobody.” – Molly
“It’s ok to ask for help.” – Jennifer
For more information about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.