Breast milk is the best milk for your newborn baby.
Breast milk is especially beneficial for premature or critically ill babies. Therefore, one of the best things you (and only you) can do for your baby at this time is to provide your breastmilk. Your breastmilk will provide nutrition to help your baby grow but also antibodies to protect them from infection while they are in hospital and for years to come.
Your breastmilk is unique for your baby. The earlier you start to express and the more often you express, the more milk you will produce for your baby's growing needs When your baby is admitted to NICU we will give you an information pack and a cool bag. The pack will contain advice about how you can express your milk. We would like to give your baby some of your expressed milk within 6 hours. Please do not worry if you express a very tiny amount. Each and every drop you produce is valuable; the tiniest amount can still be used.
At St Peter's we have a Project Joey where we aim to help you express as soon as possible. All members of staff are qualified to help you to express. We also have a dedicated breastfeeding team who are based on the Joan Booker postnatal ward. This team is led by a lactation consultant. Our maternity services at St Peter's were accredited in September 2015 "AS Baby Friendly", by UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initative for Excellence in Support of Breastfeeding and Parent-Infant Relationships. We have just been reassessed by "Baby Friendly" for our excellent work.
The earlier you start to express and the more often you express, the more milk you will produce for your baby's growing needs. Ask our neonatal nurses to help you start.
We advise and recommended by UNICEF:
- Start expressing within a couple of hours after giving birth, even if your baby will only take tiny amounts
- Aim to express 8-10 times in 24 hours, particularly in the first couple of weeks
- With each day, the amount of milk you express should increase. Even if your baby is taking tiny amounts now they will need more as they get bigger
- Ask your neonatal nurse to check your expressing technique.
- Please label your expressed milk with your baby's name date and time. Milk can be stored in the fridge for 48 hours and frozen for 3 months.
If your baby was born very early you may need to carry on expressing for many weeks and at times this can feed relentless. Double pumping will save time and increase your milk supply. We have a small room with 2 expressing pumps that you can use to express. We also encourage to express by the cot side. We have screens that we can use for privacy.
Whilst some mums have no problems expressing breast milk, others struggle. Having a baby on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is stressful, and that stress can inhibit milk production. Some mothers might have their own health problems that prevent breastfeeding. Mothers own milk is always best, but where this is unavailable or insufficient and the baby is very premature or sick, donor breastmilk is used in preference to formula milk for a limited period.
Donor Breast Milk Bank
At St Peter's we are fortunate to have a Donor Breast Milk Bank. Local mothers donate their breastmilk for free to help save the lives of our premature and sick babies. Donor breast milk is a precious resource, so we save it for our most fragile babies. Most of our donated milk is given to babies that are born before 32 weeks. We have a few exceptions, including near or full term babies who are critically ill or have a specific problem with their intestines.
Why Use Donated Breastmilk?
Many studies have shown that premature babies especially born earlier than 30 weeks, who are fed breastmilk have better outcomes. We see less risk of infection while they are in the hospital and fewer incidents of Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC). This can be a devastating intestinal disease.
Is Donated Breastmilk Safe?
All donated breastmilk undergoes a strict screening process and pasteurisation process in line with current guidelines and local policies. All our donors have undergone a lifestyle checks and screening at recruitment. The donor milk is also then tested for bacteria and pasteurised at 62.5 degrees for added protection. This is in line with United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking (UKAMB)
What Screening Takes Place?
Although donors are screened during pregnancy for HIV, Hepatitis B, HTLV and Syphilis, to comply with other milk banks around the UK we now require, a postnatal blood test showing negative before we accept any donated breast milk
Ashford and St Peter's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Milk Bank staff
- Alice D’Souza, Team leader
- Sue Webber, Ann Thorne and Amanda are involved in the pasteurization of milk
Would you like to become a breastmilk donor?