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Saying thank you doesn’t seem enough – UK

Today my baby is 10 weeks old and as I write this, she is happily feeding with a milk drunk look on her face.

Amanda Wood, the milk bank manager of the Oxford Human Milk Bank remembers signing donor human milk out for this new family to take home. She explains that when the milk bank’s supplies allow, mothers can be provided with some DBM to take home for supplementary feeds if these are needed for medical reasons. ‘It can help to support the mother and baby until her milk supply comes in and they fully establish breastfeeding’.

Diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at 41 weeks, this mother finally gave birth by emergency c-section following three nights in hospital and 16 hours in the delivery suite. Once in the theatre, their daughter was quickly delivered and placed on her chest.  All seemed well but events suddenly changed, she began feeling very unwell and ended up needing treatment under a general anaesthetic for a very extensive blood loss. Meanwhile her husband and newborn daughter were taken back to the delivery suite where he was able to feed her with colostrum that she had expressed antenatally. Once mother and daughter were reunited, Covid-19 restrictions meant her husband had to leave however postnatal staff helped her to breastfeed. Still feeling very unwell and with a baby who wouldn’t settle, the decision was taken to give a little donor milk from the hospital’s milk bank to enable the mother to rest after her surgery and long labour.  The new family were eventually able to go home after another 3 nights in the hospital.

The midwife’s 24 hour check didn’t note any feeding problems however a few days later everything changed. The 5 day check revealed a return of the mother’s pre-eclampsia and the baby had lost 17.5% of her birth weight. Together, they were returned to hospital where baby’s bloods were taken and she was given a feed of donor milk as part of a feeding plan designed to maintain breastfeeding and provide exclusive human milk feeds. Her notes revealed the extent of the mother’s blood loss and to help her milk come in, a regime of pumping to stimulate her supply was started. Supplementary feeds of donor milk were also given with a view to continuing this, once discharged, if necessary.

Unfortunately, dehydration along with a very high sodium level led to the baby being admitted to the high dependency unit where the feeding plan continued with supplementary feeds given through a feeding tube inserted via her nose. After four nights the baby’s weight gain was such that she could once again be discharged, this time with donor milk provided to enable the supplementary feeds to continue. Over the following few days, the litre of milk provided by the milk bank continued to be used as a supplement to the mother’s breastfeeding. Since then, they haven’t looked back and they were both finally discharged by the midwife when their baby was five weeks old and back to her birth weight.

The mother explains ‘We are so incredibly grateful for the donated milk we received while we were in hospital and also the milk we were sent home with. It was such a precious gift that allowed my body time to catch up and my milk to come through; it also took the pressure off me and allowed us to continue breastfeeding. Had it not been for the infant feeding team, the staff at the hospital and my amazing midwife, my daughter would not be an exclusively breastfed baby. If we could, we would thank the incredible mothers that enabled us to receive this precious gift, they are truly amazing and we hope they know just how special they are’.

Sixteen days old

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