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The benefits of mother's own milk

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You can’t dispute the evidence – breastfeeding provides profound health benefits to both mother and infant, and as a result, the community at large. However, many wonder how breastfeeding is facilitated once a newborn, too small or sick, requires a lengthy hospital stay. Luckily, Texas Children’s offers a wide array of services and resources to ensure mothers can provide mother’s own milk (MOM) to their infants in our care. As breastmilk-feeding mothers can attest, it definitely takes a lot of effort to express breast milk up to eight times a day. Doing so is vital though, to help your baby get the feedings they need. Some may wonder why they should go through all of this effort when hospitals like Texas Children’s provide pasteurized donor breast milk for these infants when MOM isn’t available.

MOM provides all of the important nutrients needed for infant growth and development, including water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Yet, the non-nutritional properties are what make MOM so unique and vital to your infant. This includes antimicrobial cells, growth factors, hormones and digestive enzymes that provide protection against infections and some diseases. In fact, some of these active cells are specially designed to fight the germs found in the individual mother and baby’s environment. You can say they’re made to order!

When a mother is unable to produce enough MOM for her infant in the hospital, donor breast milk is the second-best substitute and can act as a bridge for breastfeeding until the MOM is available. This donor breast milk is readily available from mothers with more than enough milk for their own babies. Donor mothers go through a very thorough screening process, similar to blood donation. To ensure all potential viruses and bacteria are eliminated, the donor milk is heat-pasteurized. Even though this makes the milk safe, the heat processing does eliminate (or inactivate) some components of the milk. This is why it’s so important for mothers to provide at least some, if not all, of their own breast milk for their infants, if possible.

Texas Children’s Lactation and Milk Bank Services prepares an average of 26, 590 breast milk feedings every month. Of these, 70 percent are MOM. That’s a whole lot of pumping! To learn more, click here.

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Post by:

Nancy M. Hurst, RN, PhD, IBCLC