“If it weren’t for Lilli, Max would not be here. Her little life made a huge impact on his. Someday, he’ll know about Lilli and how selfless her mother was,” said Jennifer Robinson, Max's mother.
Nicole Hendrix, Lilli's mother, was grieving the loss of her preemie baby when it dawned on her that she might be able to donate her pumped milk to the hospital where Lilli was born. This was a new proposition for Overland Park Regional Medical Center, but one that turned out to likely mean the survival and health of premature baby Max. It is a story of love for a fragile, helpless human being.
I am crying as I write this, for Nicole and her loss of Lilli and for the delight of Max's life. The power of breastmilk can never be underestimated. It is important for all humans, but premature babies' lives often time depend on it. The immature gut of these babies need human milk. You may have heard Dr. Kathleen Marinelli talk about this in a recent blog.
I always encourage mothers to give as much breastmilk as they can for as long as they can– and if you have extra milk, give to another mother or to a milk bank. According to Dr. Stephen Buescher, Pediatrics Infectious Disease physician, human milk is the most complex substance known to mankind and no matter how hard laboratories try they will never be able to reproduce it. Human milk is antimicrobial, antifungal, antiviral. It is a living fluid.
Give as much as you can for as long as you can.
Have you ever shared your extra milk?
Do you wish someone had shared milk with you for your baby?
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Tags: breastfeeding, breastfeeding babies, benefits of breastfeeding, breastmilk, necrotizing enterocolitis, NEC, premature infant, preemies, breast milk, Paula Meier, Rush Children's Medical Center, UC San Diego Medical Center
Premature infants need breastmilk more than anything else. Some doctors and researchers have been saying this for years. Paula Meier, RN, DNSc, FAAN of Rush Children's Hospital is a prime example. She has been running The Mothers' Milk Club since 1996. This group, created to encourage and support mothers to commit to providing their own milk for their premature babies, is "based on the latest research evidence that a mothers' milk is uniquely suited to the multi-faceted needs of her special care newborn infant."
Recently UC San Diego Medical Center began a program to increase the number of the premature infants, or preemies, in their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that receive their mothers' milk. According to the CBS Evening News April 10th article, "Mother's Milk A Lifesaver For Preemies?", "only 45 percent of preemies go home on breast milk as compared to 74 percent of full-term babies. Doctors here believe that for babies born weighing only a few ounces, human milk means the difference between life and death."
Breastmilk is an extremely complex and living liquid. Though artificial infant formula provides nutrition for babies, it can provide nothing else. I know I have said it before but it is worth repeating: breastmilk - antimicrobial and full of antibodies to provide protection against illnesses and diseases -is only 10% nutrition. 90% of breastmilk is for creating a strong immune system and supporting the healthy and proper development of every system in the body. A mother's milk also matches 50% of her baby's genetic material. WOW!
Breastmilk is uniquely designed to coat the gastrointestinal tract and protect it from harmful pathogens until it has matured and is able to protect itself. This is of utmost importance in preemies who are more likely to develop a life threatening condition known as necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC. Breastmilk significantly reduces the incidence of NEC. At UC San Diego Medical Center they have seen a decrease from 5.8 before the program started to less than 1%.
As more studies about breastmilk are published, more benefits are discovered and the more we understand why formula, which is made from cow's milk or soy, can not possibly compete with the remarkable and complex substance of mother's own milk.