Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby, and the best breast milk is your own. However, if you cannot provide breast milk, donor milk may be available from your hospital or local milk bank.
If your baby is born prematurely or is sick, he may need to be cared for in the hospital until he is strong enough to go home. Learn more about what’s in breast milk.
Receiving breast milk during your baby’s hospital stay can shorten his time in the hospital and prevent infections. Breast milk also helps your baby’s immune system to fight bacteria and viruses while providing the best nutrition to develop and grow. Best of all, babies fed breast milk while hospitalized are able to go home sooner than babies fed formula.
Your baby may continue drinking donor milk even after going home from the hospital. However, in many areas, donor milk is in limited supply and the most fragile babies are the highest priority. You will need a prescription from your pediatrician to receive donor milk.
Is Donated Milk Safe?
Donated breast milk is very safe; it comes from mothers that have pumped more milk than their own baby can eat. Before mothers can donate milk, they are tested for any illness that could pass through their breast milk. Each container of milk is also tested for harmful bacteria.
The donor milk is then pasteurized to eliminate any infecting organism that could be present in the milk. A small percentage of nutritional and immunological properties are destroyed by pasteurization, but pasteurized milk retains many of its beneficial properties. It contains tremendous special properties that cannot be duplicated by commercial milk formulas.
Compiled from the following References:
Steele, T., Puopolo, K., (2005). Donor Breast Milk Use in the NICU. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from https://www2.aap.org/sections/perinatal/DonorMilk.html
Human Milk Bank Association of North America. (n.d.). Milk Processing. Retrieved from https://www.hmbana.org/milk-processing