Breastfeeding a Preemie

When we’re pregnant, we all hope for a healthy baby and a safe labor and delivery experience. And sometimes the best outcome for mom and baby is giving birth much sooner than expected. How does breastfeeding change as the parent of a preemie? What kind of support can you expect from the hospital? How can you maintain your milk supply even when your baby is too small to feed from the breast? And what are your options when it comes to donor milk?

View Episode Transcript





The Boob Group
Breastfeeding A Preemie
Episode 181, Oct 2nd, 2016

[00:00:00]
Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.
SUNNY GAULT: This Episode of Boob group is brought to you by Rumina Nursing-wear. Hands free pumping and nursing tanks and bras to support your breast feeding goals. Visit www.pumpandnurse.com and save 20% with promo code BOOBGROUP20.
[Theme Music]

PRIYA NEMBHARD: When we get pregnant there are so many expectations and thoughts about the pregnancy that goes through our minds. This includes the health of our baby and the “what if’s”. Sometimes the unexpected happens and we deliver our baby prematurely. Today we are discussing breastfeeding a preemie. We are The Boob Group!
[Intro/Theme Music]
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome to The Boob Group! We're here to support all moms wanting to provide breast milk to their babies. I am your host – Priya Nembhard. I am also the founder of the “Moms Pump Here” nursing locator app which helps moms all over the world to find places to pump and breastfeed their babies. If you haven’t yet we encourage to download the New Mommy Media Network app which gives you easy access to all our episodes. You can also subscribe to our podcast through iTunes so our latest episodes download to your mobile device automatically. And if you are on iTunes, please leave us a review, so other moms can learn about us. Let’s meet the mamas joining us today for our conversation! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family!
AMBER STAR MERKENS: Hi, my name is Amber Star Merkens and I am a mom of two children, ages seven and three. I live here in Brooklyn, New York, and my second child was born at 28weeks, and she was in the NICU for six months. And she’s now a happy, healthy three-year-old and she breastfed until she was two years old, starting off, obviously, with very bumpy start, but it happened. And I am also a postpartum doula and certified breastfeeding councilor, and I work as the New York outreach coordinator for Mothers Milk Banks North-East, which is a regional milk bank, serving ten states, including New York. We provide pasteurized, screened, human donor milk to hospitals and out-patient families, including eight hospitals currently in New York City, and twenty on the State. And that’s me!
PRIYA NEMBHARD: It’s a lot!
AMBER STAR MERKENS: That’s a lot, yeah!
HILARY CLARK: Hi, my name is Hilary Clark. And I am mom to Ayona. And Ayona was born a micro-preemie at 27weeks, and stayed in the hospital for 80days. She first got on the boob on August, 2nd, about a month and a half into our stay at the NICU, and it was a long road, trying to breastfeed this sweet little preemie, but we got there, and she is still a breastfeeding baby today at 16months.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: That’s awesome!
SUNNY GAULT: And hey, everyone, I am Sunny! I am producing today’s show. And I actually have some experience with today’s topic, because I have… Well, I have four kids total, but my last two kids are twins, and now they’re almost three, though actually will be three next month, but they were born technically as preemies, but they were born as 35 week’ers.
So they were actually right on the border! And it was interesting, when I was pregnant, and I remember my…what is it…my perinatologist was saying…because I was so concerned about having really small twins, and going through the NICU, I know a lot of twin parents, that that’s exactly what happened to them, and so I said: okay, well, what is, you know, the week mark…what weak mark am I aiming for here to not have to go to the NICU?
And she said: “Well. it’s right around 35weeks.” but she’s like: “You can take that to the bank, because there are older children, you know, that are born later that still need the NICU”, but she said: “usually around 35weeks” So I must have got that in my head somehow when I was pregnant because I was like: “just make it to 35weeks, make it to 35weeks” And they came out at 35weeks and a couple days.
So didn’t need the NICU, which was helpful, you know, but they still weren’t able to latch. So I can certainly talk about my transition and being able to provide my own breast milk, and then, you know, getting them to the point where they tandem fed, which they did for almost three years.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So I am you host, Priya Nembhard. And I have three children. My oldest is fourteen, I have a twelve-year-old, and an eight-year-old, so my children are a little bit older, but I breastfed all of them and they were all full terms, so I am sort of like the outsider in this conversation. But you know, I have tons of friends and you know, people that I know through the mommy world that have had this experience.
So I am looking forward to today’s conversation and you know, hopefully we’ll be able to provide moms listening with great tips and resources they can look for if they have a preemie. Thank you all for being here!

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so before we kick off our conversation today we’re going to talk about a news headline. And I am a big fan of moms that are able to pump, and pump consistently for long period of time, or go back to work and pump. I am just in all of you, guys. Because it takes a lot of effort to do that. And we want to highlight a mom that was just so dedicated to her baby and pumping for her baby, even though her baby was sick.
So this happens…it may have been over a year ago, but still the story is still a very powerful story. And this happened in Nebraska. And a mom, her name is Demi, she had a baby two months early and baby Leo was his name, he spent ten moths in the NICU and he was diagnosed with a birth defect that basically there wasn’t any skin that developed over his organs, and so it was very rare. But he was in the NICU for ten months and during this time his mom was pumping profusely for him.
And he was really not taking to the breast milk very well and eventually he passed away. And it’s a sad story, you know, when we just take it to that. But the mom, Demi, decided to donate all of her breast milk. And that’s really the happy part of the story! She actually donated; get this, 17,503 ounces, which equals about 131gallons of milk. So when you think about like a dairy section of…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Or a whole aile!
SUNNY GAULT: Yes! Of your grocery store, that’s pretty much what you’re talking about, which is amazing? And just think about all the babies she was able to help and you know, in doing so. So wanted to talk about that. Obviously wanted to get some probs still to Demi for this and helping so many babies. But what do you think when you hear that number? I mean, it is tough to pump! I mean, I’ve pumped, I pumped for my preemies. I didn’t pump that much. This is just… it’s the shared dedication of what Demi did. Priya, what do you think?
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Well, I remember pumping and it is so tough, you know! You are dealing with all, you know, the craps in your nipples and you know, just trying to keep up the supply for your baby. I can’t imagine, you know, physically what she went through trying to get all that milk out, but just emotionally and mentally…How heroine and both exhausting that might have been for her to know that, you know, my son…well, she was pumping while her son was in the NICU, but even afterwards having to continue to pump like that, or wanting to continue to pump like that, was very heroine of her!
SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, that’s true, because she didn’t pump all of that probably in those ten months, she probably kept pumping afterwards. That was… That would take a lot! That would take a lot to continue to do that!
AMBER STAR MERKENS: Yeah, I mean, it is such hard work to pump milk! And then, when your baby passes, it is… the milk is often such a strong and important connection to your baby. I mean, throwing it away would be extremely…can be extremely painful. And for some mothers just unthinkable. And yeah, donating it can be such an amazing way for some moms to find comfort in knowing that their baby is not…well, literally saved lives.
And when you think about how much a preemie takes in a feed, a lot of times it is very small, sometimes it is a fraction of an ounce. So that amount of milk is going so far, you know! It’s amazing! And milk banks, you know, gratefully accept donations of milk from bereaved families and there are actually many bereave moms who do it.
HILARY CLARK: Yeah, I mean, she is a hero in my eyes, you know, because even pumping for a baby primarily who is in the hospital, who’s not home, is even so much more…It’s a different even than pumping for a child that you are with. I mean, it can be extremely emotional. And I would imagine…I mean, I don’t know, but I would foresee that has been quite healing knowing that she was helping other babies.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, and it was definitely, if you think about it, it was just her way of staying…continuing that connection. So it was like him being there without him being there by her doing this, you know.
AMBER STAR MERKENS: I mean, I think that for a lot of moms…I know for myself, pumping, even though it was difficult, it gave me a purpose and it gave me a routine in a really chaotic time. And it gave me a way to help also when I felt so helpless sometimes. And so like, you know, the days when I couldn’t even…my baby was too fragile to hold. And I think also when you lose a baby, having that almost structure to your life with pumping for a while and letting that give you some strength and you know, kind of framing the experience in a way, it is really amazing.
SUNNY GAULT: I think that’s so interesting! I never really thought of it that way. But so often we view the rigorous pumping schedule as a negative, but you’re absolutely right! If everything just seems kind of our of wag and you need, you know, something to structure your day, that could be extremely helpful.
HILARY CLARK: For myself, my day was structured around pumping and being with Ayona when she was in the hospital. And that I knew, similar to Amber, when I couldn’t hold her, that I was doing something for her. When I felt totally out of control of everything that was happening, I knew at least I can do that. And so it was a grounding practice for me in a lot of ways.
SUNNY GAULT: Alright, well, thanks, ladies, for your thoughts on this. And obviously, you know, a big hi-five to Demi for doing this and for helping so many babies in the process!
[Theme Music]

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Today we are talking about breastfeeding a preemie and we are pleased to have Amber Star Merkens, New Your outreach coordinator for the mother’s milk bank North-East as an expert! Welcome, Amber!
AMBER STAR MERKENS: Thank you! It is great to be here!
PRIYA NEMBHARD:I am so glad you were able to join us today! So this is important discussion. And I wanted to dive right in. So let’s discuss expectations before we get into breastfeeding a preemie. Now, we sort of touched upon this in our featured segment what our expectations were. So I would love to hear about what your expectations were for your pregnancies, before you gave birth, and before finding out that you might give birth to a preemie?
AMBER STAR MERKENS: I mean, I know I definitely expected to breastfeed and I had breastfed my first child. And I almost…It was hard; I thought it was hard with my first. And one of the things that were hard for me was just slowing down and being able to sit still, and taking that time and enjoying it, especially at the beginning when it can be so intense and your newborn needs to feed very frequently. And then I was looking forward to, you know, just releasing into that and surrendering to that with my second.
But then she… It turned out everything was very different. She came very early and I couldn’t even begin to teach how to breastfeed until she was nearly two months old. So you never know. But when she was born, I definitely immediately asked for a pump, and sort of didn’t even let it enter my mind that I wouldn’t try, even though she was, you know, just two pounds and connected to million machines, and everything. It was sort of just a thing that I knew I would do.
And the doctors and nurses were definitely validating that in a whole different way, because it was like…They told me that my milk was like medicine for her. For very tiny babies it’s not just about the nutrients and you know, kind of having this close bond with your baby, but it’s literally medicine that can save their lives and prevent infection, and inflammation, and…
PRIYA NEMBHARD: It is like gold.
AMBER STAR MERKENS: It is not just a term; it is a literal description of it, yeah.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, so what went on your mind? So, you know, you had your first baby, everything was normal, and then your second baby; you’re expecting everything to be normal. So when did it happen for you where it switched when you found out?
AMBER STAR MERKENS: Well, it was pretty sudden. I’d had an abnormal blood test of alpha-fetoprotein around 12weeks. But we had high-level ultrasounds and amniocentesis, and they couldn’t find anything that would normally be associated with that wrong with my daughter, and so they just said: well, we don’t know what’s happening.
But then about a month and a half later, right when I was hit the sixth month mark of my pregnancy; I just went through a weekend of… I was actually planning my son’s birthday party, and I couldn’t feel her moving, and it just felt very strange, and I told a couple of people, and they said: well, you know, sometimes when you are so busy, it’s hard to…you don’t feel the baby or you probably…probably everything is fine. But I just knew, you know, there was something going on.
And so that was over the weekend, and I went into my midwife on Monday just to check and make sure everything was ok. And it turned out that I had very high levels of amniotic fluid and the baby’s heartbeat was hard to detect, and I was just taken right to the closest hospital. And it turned out that the blood flow in her umbilical cord somehow had reversed flow, which is very rare, but she wasn’t doing well and she wasn’t getting anything. So they just…you know, they just took her out. I was willed in into the operating room and she was there, you know, a couple hours later.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Wow! And this was 20weeks?
AMBER STAR MERKENS: It was at 28weeks. And so it was completely shocking, no warning. I mean, there was that a little bit of warning that something might be off, but yeah, it was just weird just throwing into this whole other world and you just kind of go with it, you know.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So Sunny, your expectations must have been a bit different too? I mean, when you found out you’re having twins, did you expect to deliver… Is that… I mean, I am probably saying this really naively, but it is good for our listeners. Did you expect to deliver prematurely? Or do twins usually come full-term? Like how is it… Walk us through it.
SUNNY GAULT: So I was kind of in denial that my twins were going to come early. Twins, yes, typically you do hear about them come early. And my type of twin pregnancy is called, was called, monochorionic diamniotic, which is fancy for saying that there are two babies in separate sex, but sharing the same placenta. So it is a little bit higher risk, cause, you know a lot of fraternal twins, I have identical twins, but a lot of fraternal twins have their own placenta and that is typically viewed as a much less like high risk. But if you are sharing the same placenta there are other complications that could happen.
And so they told me that no matter what I was have to deliver at 38weeks. Like even if the babies, you know, hadn’t come yet, they were not going to let me go to forty weeks. Do in my mind I guess 38weeks kind of became my 40week, like I didn’t even consider 40week. But I was trying…I knew they were going to c-section babies and I was just aiming for that, you know, 38week mark. And so in my mind I delivered big babies prior, like nine plus babies, so I really thought my body could handle it.
I guess I was a little overconfident in my bodies abilities, cause I really didn’t have any issues with you know, carrying the twins. You know, I have heard horror stories, and it really seemed to me like it was going just as well if not better that a singleton pregnancy. And so in my mind, they were not going to come early, they were coming at 38weeks, and that was…I just kind of had it in my head that that’s what was going to happen. And I had no signs that they were going to come early. I was taking a shower in the morning and when I got out of the shower, I was still…water was still leaking, and I am like: “what's going on here?”, and I realized that one of the twins broke her water.
So they kind of pick their birthday, which ironically happened to be my father’s birthday. So it actually turned out to be kind of a cool thing, you know. Certainly wasn’t planned. But I kind of, you know, predicted…not predicted, but I kind of assumed that I was going to have some breastfeeding challenges, you know, in the beginning anyway, just they were two babies. So I guess in my mind I was, you know…I didn’t think everything was going to run super-smoothly because I was going to have two babies. So the fact that there were a little bit early, yeah, that was something else it was kind of thrown on my plate, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a smooth sailing, so I think that actually helped prepared me anyway, you know, because of that.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Wow! And what about you, Hilary? What were your expectations like?
HILARY CLARK: I would say that my expectations were like… I was in the process of trying to figure out where I wanted to give birth. At the time I was set to be with this one midwife group called Percso Midwives and deliver at Methodist Hospital. And at the time I was still trying to decide if I thought that’s what I wanted to do. I had actually thought I wanted to do a home birth, I was thinking: oh, if only I could go to (inaudible) farm. And it was about 26weeks and I started to get a lot of swelling.
And I gained weight kind of quickly and I was like: is this normal? And everybody I was talking to was like: well, you are almost in 7months, you know, it’s about that time. And I was just starting to kind of wonder about it. You know, my ankle really swelled up. And I had an old dance injury, so I was like: oh, it must be just that old dance injury really swelling and… I had a standard midwife appointment on June, 15th, and it was the first time that they were actually checking my urine and they checked my urine and they said: oh, you must have done this test wrong; you need to go back and check it again because the protein was outrageously high. And so they had me check it again and they took me right back, and she took my blood pressure, and she said: you need to go to the ER right now.
My blood pressure was through the roof, the proteins were through the roof. And I didn’t even really know. I mean, to be perfectly honest, I knew nothing about what would be the eventual diagnosis at the emergency room, which was preeclampsia, I would just kind of…to be perfectly honest, I would just, you know, blouse over that area than reading the books that I was reading.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yeah, but this is not going to happen to me.
HILARY CLARK: Yeah! Exactly! And then I got to the hospital and they were like: so, you definitely have preeclampsia, the only cure is delivery, you are not going to deliver right now, but you might deliver in the next 4days. And I was like: no, I am not. And so then they admitted me and while I was admitted I had a caesura.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Oh! Is that normal?
HILARY CLARK: So, pre-eclampsia is technically pre-caesura as far as my understanding, and so not many people get to the point where they have a caesura. I had a very severe form that happened extremely quickly. And all I remember is them asking…they were about to give…I think it’s called (inaudible) for the baby. And that’s all I remember and I just ended up going into a caesura in the room and they emergency c-sectioned me, and I had no idea.
And so when I woke up I was just feeling a bit of discomfort in my belly and I was like: why does my belly hurt? And ended up in the ICU for a few days without being able to meet Ayona. And she was born at 1.9 pounds. She was extremely, extremely underweight. And it was a total shock. It was a total shock. And I don’t think I could really comprehend what was going on for the first couple weeks. So there wasn’t really any learning I was going to give birth prematurely, I just did.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Wow! And it sounds like such a scary situation. I mean we all have these expectations what our pregnancy is going to be like, but then to just go through this… I can’t imagine the fear of that is running through your mind. It is like: what’s going to happen? Am I going to lose my baby?
HILARY CLARK: Oh, absolutely! Yeah! I mean, it was absolutely frightening, yeah.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So, now that your child was born prematurely, what happens in the NICU and at home when it comes to breastfeeding? We’ll be right back.
Looking for all-in-one tanks and bras to help you easily transition from bump to baby, Rumina nursing-wear’s pump and nurse collection is designed for your unique body to support you breast feeding goals and your busy new lifestyle. Simple hands-free pumping with no additional straps, hooks or Velcro. Comfortable all day support for busy multitasking moms and convenient full skin to skin nursing. Plus Boob Group listeners save 20% with promo code BoobGroup20.
Rumina Nursingwear, simple, comfortable and convenient.

Visit their website at www.pumpandnurse.com and save today.

[Theme Music]
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome back! Today we are talking about breastfeeding a preemie. So what was your experience like breastfeeding your preemie? And also breast pumping? I want to touch upon both of these. I am sure everything happened so quickly upon the birth of your babies, but how did the hospital provide you with support? What did they walk you through? Was there a lactation consultant there? I mean, what kind of people where there to help you through the situation?
AMBER STAR MERKENS: For me there was an amazing lactation consultant. I was at Memanutise Hospital. She was a NICU nurse, but also lactation consultant. And she kind of reassured me from the start and I feel like I own my ability to breastfeed Raya, my daughter’s name is Raya, to her. Because she really was so encouraging that it could happen in a slow way.
You know, you always hear than even if, you know, you are separated for a couple of hours that it could ruin everything and the baby might not have the same instincts, and your milk might not come in, all these stuff. But she just gave so many kind words and encouraging words, and that's just…I can’t even stress how much that means to a new mom, even if it’s, you know, second, third, fourth baby in that state. It was scary. I mean, we were just on labour&delivery, they would…I had to wait for somebody to available to, you know, weal me down to the NICU to visit my baby, couldn't just go whenever I wanted.
So I was in the labour&delivery recovering for a few days, and pumping, when I was up there, pumping by her. I would go down as often as I could. But it was clear that she was not going to be coming home with me and that was very difficult. But in general everybody on staff were supportive, but they are also doing so many things and taking care of so many babies, that there’s a certain feeling that, you know, you just kind of have to fit into their schedule.
But there were some support groups offered through the hospital where I was. Eventually Maya got transferred to Columbia Presbyterian and there were many services for families there. There was child care that I could bring my son, which was amazing, and he could play in a playroom at the hospital, they have amazing facilities. And they had separate lactation rooms where you can pump. And chair by the isolate then you can pull out and you can lay down and take a nap there. I mean, those little things…It’s incredible. It felt like a, you know, like 5star luxury hotel. And I felt so, you know, just supported. It’s amazing what little things can do. And then you know, family and friends. I had meal-train set up for me by friends, people bringing over food for moms.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So they would rotate?
AMBER STAR MERKENS: So they would rotate, yeah. And would wither bring over food, or order food. And I can tell you, if you know someone with a baby in the NICU that is like an incredible, incredible help and support. And you feel loved through food too, I think, yeah. It’s a good way to support.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So Hilary, what was your experience in the hospital? How long were you in the hospital with your baby?
HILARY CLARK: So we were in the hospital for eighty days. Ayona was in the hospital for eighty days, I also went there every day, but I also was in the hospital for about a week. Two days in the ICU followed by the mother-baby. So because I was in the hospital… I remember the lactation consultant. She came in and said: oh, it’s so important to pump, it’s so important to pump. And I was in a bit of a haze. And I think I pump a bit of colostrum for her. But by when I got home we were also in the process of also moving, so it was about… Ayona was born on June, 16th, and we were moving two weeks later.
So with everything happening pumping was getting lost a bit. And I think because there was just so much stress and you know, still some health fragility on my end, I was not understanding how much I needed to pump in order to kind of generate and keep my supply. Do I don’t think… I got a bit of a late start and so as a result I was getting very, very tiny amounts each time I pumped, about 20ml. And Amber had spoke previously, you know, that preemies don’t take very much.
So I was pretty much my entire time of the NICU, I was kind of just about at what Ayona was taking and there was a period of time where Ayona wasn’t eating for about three weeks. She was just getting this… I think it’s called TPN, yeah, I am forgetting the full name of it. We were just call it like this yellow Gatorade that she was digesting.
But I had to start to do something called power pumping in which I would pump for an hour, five minutes pumping, five minutes off in the morning to generate my milk supply. And then moving forward I would structure my day at the hospital with procedures that were happening in the room, so that I was trying to essentially pump every three to four hours, and then I would do a power pump at night.
So I mean, that consistently happened pretty much the whole 80days Ayona remained in the NICU. But then it continued. I’d still had to pump because she was having a hard time with breastfeeding the entire time. She started to do something called non nutritive suckling on August, 2nd. Yeah, so essentially what that means is they allow the baby to start to practice sucking at about…I think it was like 32weeks, Amber, does that sound right to you?
AMBER STAR MERKENS: Yeah…
HILARY CLARK: I think Ayona had to start a little bit later because she had complications with breathing and…
AMBER STAR MERKENS: It takes them a while, the breathing capability of being able to breathe and suck at the same time, and swallow.
HILARY CLARK: Yeah, so the coordination of breath, suck, swallow is quite challenging for a preemie, and so it makes the potential of breastfeeding challenging. I didn’t… We had a few lactation consultants come down, but I actually found them not as helpful as this one amazing lactation consultant who I had come in recommended to me by some friends. She and a few nurses would really were like kind of the main support system for breastfeeding.
I mean, I remember this one sweet nurse Melissa just taking my breast and like pretty much taking my nipple and rubbing it up and down Ayona cheek and nose, and face. And I thought it was the funniest thing cause that was like, you know…we were in the hospital, there were all these people around, and like, you know, I’m just having like my boob, you know, is bigger that this little baby’s face. And I remember when Ayona started to actually get some milk.
It was like a few weeks after she started just practice sucking, my milk supply just started to really jump up. And I think that was a big relief and a big link to really my motivation of pumping up. But it helped my supply when she was even just practicing nursing.
AMBER STAR MERKENS: I think breastfeeding in the NICU is just because of the way the NICU has to run in the setup, even though they are often saying, you know, your milk is the best thing for your baby and it’s really important that you try to give your baby your milk, the way it set up is very difficult to support a breastfeeding mother in that situations. There’s a lot of interruptions, there’s a lot of scheduling, there’s a lot of time when, you know, a baby next to your baby is having a d-stat, or some kind of procedure and you got kicked out, and then you can’t feed, or, you know…because you can’t be there when it’s happening.
Or they have to do rounds and you miss that feed because you can’t be in the NICU during rounds, it’s…you know, or…you can’t be feeding during rounds, you can’t be in there. But it’s just…you know, there are so many elements and there’s so much going on and that really takes some doing to breastfeed, but I think also Hilary said, everyone is so busy, that it requires some extra underlined structure of support. That isn’t in every NICU, but some do have more than others.
So it’s something that, you know, I hope continues to get better. But one of the things, you know, that is happening now that is supporting breastfeeding mothers is that more hospitals are offering donor milk as standard of care, and that actually does… Well, it sends a message to moms that human milk is important and to keep up, and to keep trying, even if they aren’t getting it, but also allows them stress levels to be lowered when perhaps you…your milk just hasn’t come in yet, it’s delayed, because you've been…you’ve had medical procedures yourself, or you are just extremely stressed, or for a number of reasons.
And then when your baby can get safe donor milk, instead of artificial milk and it’s very reassuring and it’s one peace to the not only keeping the baby healthy, but supporting the moms and the families.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: So Amber, what type of support do milk banks provide moms that are going to the same struggles Hilary is going through, or that you and Sunny went through? What type of support would your milk bank provide?
AMBER STAR MERKENS: Basically what we are doing is we are… The hospitals are setting their donor milk programs and they order milk as needed from the milk bank. So the purchase it and they have it there when moms need it. So the moms, if their hospital is providing donor milk as standard of care, they don’t have to directly contact the milk bank and we don’t know who’s getting what. But what we doing is screening donors, and pasteurizing their milk, testing their milk and making sure that it is safe to give to the hospitals.
But we do provide milk to out-patients as well, and to moms who are in a hospital which doesn’t provide it as standard of care, the hospitals that don’t have donor milk programs yet. And in those cases the mother would contact the bank directly and we’ll work with her to get her the milk she needs. And you know, often times it is like Hilary’s case where the milk supply, the mother’s milk supply may be delayed, or insufficient, and in this case bridge milk, what’s called bridge milk is all that’s needed, and you know, so they’ll use donor milk for a relatively short amount of time, and it will just ensure that their baby is not exposed to, you know, the many risks that can be involved with formula feeding a preemie, cause their risk for, in particular, a disease called necrotizing enterocolitis jumps up by 80% with a formula feed.
So that has called neck for sure and it’s basically when the intestines get damaged or destroyed by infection and a lot of times it requires surgery and it can be fatal. So it’s really a big deal when we…even if we are not providing the milk for on a one term, we are just providing it to make sure that so we are lowering that risk. We are working on doing more outreach within the hospitals to provide more support services, but really that’s usually done by the hospital and our main job is to get the milk to the babies.
I personally, you know, I came to work for the milk bank because of my experience obviously in the NICU. So I saw other families going through, you know, terrible times of not being able to provide enough, and also moms who have to go back to work right away, and, you know, can’t keep up the pumping schedule, and all this. So I realized how important the milk bank can become and how important is to get the hospitals to get on board.
PRIYA NEMBHARD: Absolutely, absolutely! So, thank you so much to everyone for being part of today’s show and for sharing their experience! If you are a member of The Boob Group, then be sure to check out the bonus content for this episode where we’ll discuss what the process is like to donate your breast milk.
[Theme Music]

SUNNY GALUT: Okay, so before we wrap up or show today we are going to read you a comment that one of our listeners sent to us. As you know, we read all of the e-mail you sent us and we try to catch up on Facebook as well. And it’s just really important that we know how you feel about the show. And if something helped you, we certainly want to know that as well. So, this was an e-mail that came in from Christine, and this is what she wrote, she says:

I want to rely my deep and heartfelt thanks for the breastfeeding episode!

So, for those of you who are not familiar, I don’t know, it was probably about a month ago or so, we released an episode about the guilt a lot of moms have if they are unable to breastfeed their babies, or they aren’t able to breastfeed for as long as they wanted. So that’s what she’s referring to. So, she continues:

My son is now six months old and out breastfeeding relationship hasn’t really even been easy, but I’ve been able to keep him mostly breastfed. Over these months, breastfeeding and pumping, half the times almost has been an obsession causing me sacrifice my sleep, self-care and time with friends, family, as well as my husband. Only recently have I come to terms with loosening the “choke-hold” breastfeeding and pumping have had on me. Of course, I am still feeling guilt, but this episode made me feel less lonely and more accepting of other feeding methods, of his feeding methods. Thank you very, very much!

From Christine

And you know, if there’s an episode that really, I don’t know, resonated with you, that really helped you, we would love to hear that as well. We'd love to share these comments. And I am glad that this helped you, Christine. And I hope it continues to help more mamas out there.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: That wraps up our show for today. Thanks for listening to The Boob Group!
Don’t forget to check out our sister show:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Newbies for newly postpartum moms
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers and
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.

This is The Boob Group where moms know breast!
[Disclaimer]
This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.
SUNNY GAULT:How would you like to have your own show on the New Mommy Media network? We are expanding our line-up and looking for great content. If you are a business or organisation interested in learning more about our co-branded podcasts, visit our website at www.newmommymedia.com.
[00:41:14]
[End of Audio]