Premature and low birth weight babies born at
North Oaks Medical Center can now receive the health benefits of donor breast milk during their
Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) stay in cases where their own mothers’ milk is not available.
Babies born before 33 weeks or with a birth weight less than or equal to
3.3 pounds are eligible to receive a donor human milk prescription with
parental consent during their time in the NICU.
“A mother’s milk is always preferred for her baby,” explains
Tasha Daniel, who is lead lactation consultant at North Oaks Medical Center.
“But sometimes mom’s supply may not have come in yet, she
may not be able to produce enough, or she may have a health issue which
prevents her from being able to breastfeed. That’s when donor human
milk can be used to bridge the gap in baby’s nutrition.”
“Breast milk provides babies with ideal nutrition for growth, fighting
infection and promoting brain development,” asserts North Oaks Neonatologist
Jeffrey Surcouf, M.D. “It’s especially important for premature
and low birth weight babies to receive breast milk because they are more
likely to develop potentially life-threatening intestinal infections if
they are fed formula. Breast milk can even possibly shorten hospital stays.
The bottom line is that premature babies have significantly better outcomes
when they are fed breast milk.”
Babies enrolled in North Oaks’ program may continue to receive donor
human milk during their NICU stay until certain milestones have been met
as determined by their neonatologist. Some milestones include the ability
to handle full feedings, as well as reaching a certain age or weight.
The hospital’s donor human milk supply is provided by
Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin, Texas. Mother’s Milk Bank puts donors through a rigorous screening process
before they can donate. The donated milk is tested and pasteurized to
kill any bacteria and viruses.
NICUs are hospital units that care for babies who are born too early or
have serious illnesses. North Oaks Medical Center has operated a NICU
for 28 years. The North Oaks NICU is ranked among the top 25% in the U.S.,
according to the Vermont-Oxford study in its review of patient outcomes
in selected areas.
For more information about the Donor Human Milk Program at North Oaks Medical
Center, call the hospital’s Lactation Department at (985) 230-6415.
If you are interested in donating breast milk to Mother’s Milk Bank
here to learn more about the process and eligibility criteria.
To learn more about North Oaks Women & Children’s Services, click
From left, North Oaks Children’s Services Clinical Nurse Manager
Tamara Mitchell and Lead Lactation Consultant Tasha Daniel receive the
hospital’s first shipment of pasteurized donor human milk Aug. 14.
World Breastfeeding Month is observed every August.