Donor human milk has been proven to be useful in many situations and also is WHO’s recommended choice of nutrition for new born babies if mother’s own milk is not available. Donor human milk can be of use in the below mentioned scenarios:
- If mother is on certain medications and breastfeeding is not recommended
- If the mother is too ill
- In case mother passed away while giving birth
- If baby is born premature and mother is not getting sufficient supply
- Medically vulnerable babies
- If mother’s milk is not sufficient and baby is unable to tolerate formula
- In case a baby is adopted
However, if donor human milk is to be used, it should always be done in consultation with the doctor as they are able to guide on the appropriate dosage and time period required for optimal growth and development of the baby.
Source of donor human milk:
Donor human milk can be obtained from reliable sources such as milk banks or milk processing facilities. One should also ensure that milk received from these organisations is safe to be given to babies. Most organisations screen donor mothers for any infectious diseases and proper medical history is taken. Moreover, milk received from mothers undergoes quality checks for any contamination or adulteration. Milk is then pooled together and is pasteurised. Pasteurization is a process where milk is heated to a temperature of 62.5 degrees for 30 minutes (Holder’s technique). These techniques ensure that no unwanted microbes (virus/bacteria) is passed on to babies. Neolacta LifeSciences is one such organisation which follows all the recommended guidelines and also does a final microbial growth check to be completely sure that milk provided to these needy babies is completely safe.
Another method to obtain human milk is through the peer sharing. Peer sharing, also known as informal sharing refers when human milk is given by other nursing mothers within family or friends. However, this kind of sharing may expose the baby to infections due to lack of screening, pasteurization. Due to these risks, informal sharing should be avoided and ONLY screened and pasteurised donor human milk should be used to help establish a strong foundation for the next generation.
In addition to usage of donor human milk, mothers who face the issue of low milk supply should also be encouraged to breastfeed or pump if possible. Mothers can also reach out to lactation consultants to understand the issues and learn ways to help increase milk supply. Slowly and steadily when mother’s supply builds up, babies can be transitioned to mother’s milk completely.
To conclude, it can be said that in situations where mother’s own milk is unavailable, screened and pasteurised donor human milk provides all the nutritional and immunological benefits to medically vulnerable and premature babies similar to breast milk and helps in achieving the strength required to survive in this beautiful world, thus proving to be the ideal source of nutrition.