Breast milk and its benefits have been either understated or left in oblivion for long, leaving mothers unaware of the role it plays in assisting in the healthy nourishment of one’s newborn. It has been sadly left to be viewed as mere food for babies. Breast milk is not only just ‘a food’ but instead, a complex substance containing antibodies that not only fulfils a newborn’s dietary requirements but also aids in fighting off viruses and bacteria, lowering the risk of allergies, infections and illness in the long run for the child. It is a vital ingredient for the optimal growth and development of full-term babies, but even more so for preemies (preterm babies).
A mother’s milk cannot be substituted, especially for preterm babies who lack proper nutrition and need assistance and aid to resume to their pink of health. Mothers of premature babies produce breast milk which is formulated for preemie development. A mother with a preemie produces milk in accordance to the needs of the newborn which is slightly different in composition, as the body ensures to accommodate the nutrients which the newborn lacks. At least for the first two-three weeks a preemie mother’s milk will contain more protein, fat calories, calcium phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, sodium, and chloride than the normal mother’s milk designed to meet your baby’s particular needs. The premature milk is higher in protein and minerals that can be more easily digested and absorbed by the preemie.
The fat in human milk helps to enhance the development of the baby’s brain and neurologic tissues, which is especially important for premature infants. Human milk is much easier for a preemie to digest than formula and avoids exposing the newborn’s immature intestinal lining to the cow’s milk proteins found in premature infant formula. Premature babies who are breastfed are less likely to develop intestinal infections than are babies who are formula-fed, and to this effect there is ample evidence that breast milk improves survival and quality of survival in preemies .The milk a preemie’s mother produces in the first few days contains high concentrations of antibodies to help your baby fight infection. Even if your baby cannot breastfeed directly, yet expressing breast milk from the beginning will ensure that your milk supply is maintained until your baby is able to nurse.
Unfortunately, there are mothers who are unable to express milk or lactate for their premature babies in need. It is therefore donated human milk alone which can save the day for these preemies. Mother’s of preemies are therefore urged to not only keep expressing their valuable ‘Premature Milk’ but also donate it when excess, and not throw away the gift that can save another preemie in need. Even for mothers whose babies are not able to breastfeed yet, you are recommended to not only continue expressing milk to maintain continued milk supply but also to donate the same. This generous gesture from your side can not only save another child but also keep you healthy – keeping you lactating maintaining a healthy supply. Expressed milk can be donated to a Human Milk bank which will screen this milk, pasteurise it and donate it to another premature baby who is not fortunate enough to get their own mothers milk!