Why is breast milk called liquid gold? Why is such a big importance given to it? That’s is because it actually is as precious as gold or may be much more than that. Every offspring of every mammal nurtures itself with mothers milk post birth. It is a source not just for survival but also for immunity for life. Human milk is no different. We all know the immense benefits that breastmilk brings to the baby with its high nutritional value that cannot be replicated in any factory made product. Even with so much technological advancement nothing similar to breastmilk has been made for babies. But unfortunately, there are a lot of babies who are in dire need of breastmilk where their survival is at stake. Even though its an option, the formula is not the best option when there are little premature babies fighting for their lives. Studies show that babies born prematurely or with low birth weight have more chances of survival and better development if fed on BM. But their respective mother’s milk may not always be available for various reasons. For all such cases breast milk banks are a saviour.
With my baby not latching I have been expressing for last 9 months. With an episode, of mastitis I was suggested by a doctor not to stop expressing. My baby started having some solid food at 6 months and I had a good supply. She did not need as much as the milk I produced but I had to express as routine. I had exceed quantities stacked up in the freezer. I had to discard 100ml BM once and that was painful to see the milk go down drains. It was too precious to be wasted just like that. I decided to see if there was an option to donate the excess my baby did not need.
I contacted a milk bank at Sion hospital in Mumbai. I had to submit various health reports and confirm that I was not smoking or drinking while lactating and was free of infections.
I donated a total of 2900 ml of milk at 2 instances. I stored expressed milk in BM storage bags (you can get these online) at -15 degrees c and then sent them to the hospital in insulated boxes.
I had the inhibition initially whether the milk will really be used for a cause or consumed. One of the doctors told me about how crucial the demand for BM is. Little premies fighting for their life find it difficult to digest formula milk. The breast milk helps faster growth outside mothers womb for these babies in NICU. Because of the few drops of BM going into these babies every day there are chances that these babies could go to their homes and parents alive and healthy. The milk bank not only collects and stores milk but it also runs tests on them to make sure that it is really suitable for consumption of babies This gave me confidence. There are a set of guidelines these banks follow to make sure that milk is pasteurised and preserved safely.
Donating milk is a fairly easy process. The requirements are as follows
There are a lot of women who have a good or maybe even excess supply of milk. Usually to relieve engorgement most of the women drain out excess milk in the shower. But to think that even a drop can benefit some baby in need can bring a big change. We all talk so much about blood donation and there is so much awareness as well but pregnant or lactating women hardly know about milk banks.
It was a feeling of fulfilment knowing that I was able to nourish not just my baby but maybe another baby who was in need of this liquid gold. When you become a mother you become more sensitive towards any child and that is what I experienced. I hope that through my blog post I can create at least a little awareness about donating breastmilk. I hope more women can experience this beautiful feeling and more babies in turn will get the gift of life. It’s not just food for hungry but a hope for needy.