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Stronger, smarter and cuter! – Lithuania

You wouldn’t know from looking at his photograph, but this young man was born at 25 weeks gestation. That’s a very tiny beginning for any child and one that sets him or her onto a challenging path to being big enough, physically mature enough and well enough to be able to leave the hospital and go home.

From his first day of life he needed donor milk and it then continued for a month and it is estimated he received approximately 1500mls during that time. The reason why he needed the donor milk was because his mother had been in contact with someone infected with Covid-19 and so needed to isolate. Like so very many babies born during the past year, he was separated from his mother for a long time. There can be nothing more difficult for a new mum than not being able to be with and care for her new baby, especially one as tiny and vulnerable as he will have been.

At the hospital where he was being cared for, donor milk is available to all babies who need it including when the mother and baby are separated for whatever reason. His mother described how she needed to be psychologically strong, motivated and always be positive and also that this was a very hard but also a very joyful period of her life. Most mothers of such tiny infants will empathise with her although for some the joy may be short lived as their babies often seemingly take one step forward and several steps backwards before heading out of the NICU and eventually home.

In this case, although the mother was not able to breastfeed him herself, he was able to receive human milk and whilst it may not be solely responsible for him being stronger, smarter and cuter according to the message on his outfit, at 5 months old (or 2 months when adjusted for his gestational age at birth) he definitely looks like he has all of those qualities in good measure!

Human milk banks are relatively new to Lithuania – there are one each in the cities of Vilnius and Kaunas. They were opened within a few months of each other in late 2017 and early 2018. You can read more about their short history on the EMBA website because like all of the countries of Europe with milk banks Lithuania has its own designated webpage where you will find the contact details of the milk banks.

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