Breast Milk and Milk Banks

Breast Milk and Milk Banks

I was chatting with a girlfriend recently who is a midwife, and we were discussing the challenges some women have with breastfeeding. She shared with me her experience of working with a woman in hospital who had previously had a breast reduction and now was faced with the challenge of being able to provide enough milk for her newborn…

She continued by stating that even though another mother had offered to supply this mother/baby duo with some of her excess breastmilk – and all four parents consented to this arrangement, hospital policy would not allow for such a thing. Sure, institutions have their concerns regarding HIV and transmittable diseases however;

  • The World Health Organisation and UNICEF strongly recommend the use of donor milk when the mother’s milk is not available.
  • Certain countries have realised that donor human milk saves vital healthcare dollars. Pasteurised mother’s milk has therapeutic benefit for all babies especially premature babies, those with heart, gut or kidney problems, malabsorption and feeding intolerances. Breastmilk is also a preventative for Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) a devasting condition for newborn babies where the lining of the intestinal gut wall dies.
  • Milk banks are readily available in America (which has 11), the UK (which has 17) and Canada which has one.
  • Countless research over the decades discusses how breast milk is one of God’s greatest gifts for newborns, how growth factors found in breast milk protect tissue and further findings discuss how the immunological and anti-inflammatory properties of breast milk cannot be replicated by formulas.

Irrespective of these findings, at this point in time, much needed “Milk Banks” are not available in Australia.
There Are A Variety Of Reasons Breastfeeding Challenges Arise and these may include;

1. Birth-related stress

  • Difficulties with the birth may have resulted in the mother and baby being separated for some time, resulting in a delay or halting of the mother’s milk production.
  • Drugs used during the birth or post-birth may have affected how alert the baby is and their stamina to persist with suckling (please see chapter 12 for further details). Most hospitals will then pressure mothers to offer complimentary feeds.
  • Spinal distress (resulting in nerve dysfunction) often occurs during birth and may impact a baby’s ability to feed. If this is combined with birth-induced jaw dysfunction ie. the infant’s mouth is unable to open properly or fully, or if there is poor positioning of the skull, newborn babies may shy away from the vigorous act of breastfeeding because they are in pain. There is now lots of research supporting the benefits of chiropractic care for newborns post-birth.

2. Clinical reasons such as inverted nipples.

3. Medical reasons, for example the mother may have a had a previous breast reduction and is now challenged with being able to provide enough milk. This is always more of a challenge than women are lead to believe prior to surgery or even during pregnancy. The benefits of having a private midwife who can guide these women during their pregnancy’s, to plan for this scenario, is crucial.

4. Incorrect advice on technique (most breastfeeding difficulties can be over-come through correct technique)

5.Emotional challenges brought on by mothering issues or a lack of emotional support.

6.Social hurdles

There are many Australian mothers who would love to be able to help vulnerable newborn babies and they would love to support other Australian families.

What We Can Do? Well there is Some Good News.

Via the “Therapeutic Goods Act” the Australian Government has approved the establishment of a milk bank, however $350,000 is needed to get this up and running. The Australian Music Industry has shown its support for the intended “Gold Coast – Mothers Milk Bank” through the compilation of a CD of music; The Gift: A Woman’s Song by female artists,including Missy Higgins, Lil’FU, The Waifs, Deborah Conway and Stringmansaassy. With all proceeds going to towards the funding of Australia’s first Milk Bank this CD is available at ABC shops , all record outlets, birth centres or online So lets rally the troops.

Who Could Potentially Donate?

Potential donors are screened with interviews and blood tests. Donors must be in good health, non-smokers and they mustn’t consume alchol within set time-frames. Donor milk is then cleaned, pasteurised and lab tested. Doesn’t quite sound like the real thing – I know, but it’s still vitally important and beneficial for any newborn.

I wish to extend my gratitude to all those individuals who are readily supporting this cause and to those visionary’s guiding and managing it’s establishment.

Is there anyone else wondering, if there where more female Health Ministers would the health care savings a “Milk Bank” offers seem a little more pertinent??

Anyway let us do what we can and support this worthwhile cause.

Blessings and good health to you, 

Jennifer Barham-Floreani
Bach. Chiropractic, Bach. App Clinical Science
Registered internationally, no longer practicing as a chiropractor in Australia.

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