Cynthia Knox knew that she wanted to breastfeed her baby, Isla, when she gave birth in April. But while in the hospital, it was clear that Isla was not getting the nutrition she needed.
“She was getting fussy. I had been nursing her but had a really painful latch,” said Knox. “I had started using the breast pump but wasn’t getting any milk out while pumping.”
Isla had been exclusively breastfed since birth and had excessive weight loss, making her eligible for Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM) in Maine Medical Center’s Mother Baby Care unit. The donor milk comes from the Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast. The milk has been available since March 30 in the Mother Baby Care unit for exclusively breastfed babies who have a medical indication for supplementation. PDHM had already been available to certain babies in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Knox and her husband, Justin, were grateful to have the option to supplement her breastmilk until she was able to produce more.
“It was very important to us to only give breastmilk,” Knox said. “Having the donor human milk gave me peace of mind that Isla was getting what she needed.”
Knox continued to work for several weeks on pumping and breastfeeding, with some supplementation, and now Isla is breastfed at home.
MMC Mother Baby Care provides eligible families PDHM in the hospital for up to 96 hours when there is a medical reason to supplement a mother’s own milk. If a newborn doesn’t meet policy criteria for receiving donor milk or if parents choose to supplement donor milk outside the hospital, parents can purchase PDHM directly from Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast or through MMC Lactation.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend babies be given breastmilk exclusively for their first six months, and up to a year or beyond as desired by mother and baby. Having access to donor human milk enables families to continue breastmilk feeding even when there is a medical reason to supplement their mother’s breastmilk. MMC is the first hospital in Maine to provide PDHM to babies who are not in the neonatal intensive care unit.
August 1-7 is World Breastfeeding Week. You can find more information on PDHM at mmc.org/breastfeeding.