Breast milk is the safest and healthiest source of important nutrients for a baby. It is an integral part of her diet.
A breastmilk bank works to supply donated breastmilk to unwell or premature babies just like a blood bank functions to supply blood to those in need.
Breastmilk donation has been an age-old practice. In earlier times, a woman, who was referred to as a wet nurse, used to breastfeed an unrelated infant directly. Today, this practice has been revolutionised by making it safer for the child and the volunteer.
Instead of feeding directly, the breast milk is collected by milk banks and kept sterilized.The milk undergoes pasteurization and is stored at low temperatures. The entire procedure is carried out in a systematic manner and involves proper assessment and screening of the mother before the milk is collected. By doing so, it is ensured that the volunteer’s health is not put at stake.Mothers who lose their babies after birth can be active volunteers in breast milk donation.
Breast milk banks play an important role in preserving a newborn life.The human milk collected in these banks is extensively used in Neonatal Intensive Care Units(NICU) for babies who are premature or are born with diseases like short-gut syndrome, malabsorption or immune deficiencies.
It is also used to feed babies who lose their mothers as soon as they are born.Breastmilk is the only source of nutrition for babies till they reach the age of 6 months and hence it is important that every child gets to feed on it.
Health experts call donated breast milk as ‘liquid gold’ and consider it as a boon for babies with poor health and a weak immune system.
‘Amaara’, the first pasteurized Breast Milk Foundation in NCR is an initiative by the Fortis La Femme, New Delhi towards expanding the breast milk banking network in India. Presently, the bank has 21 active donors who donate breastmilk every 10-15 days.
The human milk collected is given to babies weighing less than 1500 grams or born 32 weeks before the scheduled time. Due to limitation in the availability of active donors, the bank is not able to provide milk for babies who are born normal but are otherwise malnourished.
Dr Raghuram Mallaiah, Director, Neonatology, Fortis La Femme said, “Many mothers of vulnerable, hospitalized babies are unable to breastfeed feed them. In addition, many mothers due to their own weak health or other reasons are not able to generate sufficient milk for their babies.
For all of them, pasteurized donor milk is recommended as an essential alternative. The Milk Bank is a proven solution to save the lives of the most medically fragile newborns against life-threatening illnesses, serious infections and other complications related to pre-term birth.”
Therefore, all nursing mothers should try and contribute their bit in this endevour to save lives worldwide. Your donated breastmilk can help a little one lead a healthy and longer life. The small effort that you take now can fetch benefits to a child later in her life.
In India,breastmilk donation is an emerging concept and has been initiated in some cities across the country. Motherhood is the most beautiful phase in a woman’s life. Celebrate it by doing something for a newborn who needs your help and for whom, a small effort from your side can do wonders.
If you would like to donate or know someone who would like to, then you can contact at 999-903-5600/999-913-4148 or visit S-549, Greater Kailash Part 2, New Delhi, 110048