New mums across Ireland and Northern Ireland are being called on to donate breast milk as stocks are getting low.
Ireland’s only human milk bank, based in Enniskillen, has provided help for hundreds of babies since it opened in 2000. Supported by breastfeeding mothers, the milk bank provides very special help for some of the most vulnerable babies.
As supplies run low, an appeal has been launched to encourage new donors to get involved.
Jacinta Boyle, coordinator of the Western Trust Milk Bank, said: “We are encouraging new mothers to help with the increase in demand for breast milk and to ensure we have an adequate supply for neonatal units across Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“With our dedicated donors’ support and the help of new donors we will be able to meet the demand. However, we rely on our mums to spread the ‘Milk Bank’ word around and we find that this is the only way of keeping it prominent in new mum’s minds.”
The Western Trust Milk Bank provides breast milk to neonatal units in hospitals across Ireland. The distribution of the milk would not be possible without transport help from Blood Bikers charities who assist with the transportation of milk to neonatal units in the Republic of Ireland.
Jacinta explains the importance of human milk for premature babies saying: “Human milk contains substances that cannot be synthesized, which help the babies fight viruses and bacteria. It has unique fats that help the immature brain, eye and nervous system develop better for improved intellect and sight, but probably most important for the premature baby it helps to protect the immature gut from Necrotizing Entero Colitis (NEC), a life threatening condition where the gut rupture. Breast milk also helps protect babies from pneumonia and septicaemia.”
Jacinta adds: “We are very grateful to all the mums who donate milk to the unit and there is always the need to recruit new donors. Donors are required to be registered by the time baby reaches three months old and once registered the Milk Bank will accept milk donations up until the sixth month. All milk donations received must be in sterile milk bottles when expressed and donated into the service within three months of expression. Donors must be non-smokers, not had a blood transfusion, are not on drugs that pass into breastmilk and not had a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture in the last year and are in good health.”
If you would like to find out more about the Milk Bank and becoming a donor please contact the Milk Bank on Tel: (028) 6862 8333 or email TMB.SWAH@westerntrust.hscni.
More information is available on: http://ichn.ie/irelands-human-milk-bank/
New mums are also encouraged to attend their local Breastfeeding Support Group which is supported by SureStart community midwives and held on a weekly basis throughout the Western Trust area.