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The best milk she could have received! – France

There are 36 milk banks, or lactariums as they are known, in France. The oldest date back to just after the end of the Second World War and they are all regulated as is the national Association Des Lactariums De France (ADLF). The mother of this baby is a midwife – so who better to write their story?

‘Our baby girl was born on 26 January 2021 at 32+1 weeks at Nantes University Hospital in France. The delivery was premature due to heartbeat abnormalities, growth restrictions and kidney problems. She weighed 1485g and for the first two days of her life, she received donor human milk from the hospital milk bank because I had taken some medications for my own health problems that would not be safe for a newborn premature baby. Two days does not seem very long but as a midwife myself I knew the many advantages of mother’s milk.

Breast milk composition is the most suitable for tiny babies’ growth. It contains growth factors and antibodies as well as having anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties that help the baby’s immune system. Breast milk – which I also like to call ‘white gold’ – facilitates digestion and prevents gut inflammation by providing the very important ‘good bacteria’. Lastly, breast milk favours optimal neuro-sensory development of the child.

Knowing all these facts and advantages, I naturally wanted to take over from these good fairies who had donated their milk and continue breastfeeding my little girl. My milk supply started to grow and by the 3rd day she was totally fed with my own milk.

I wanted to donate some of my milk back to the milk bank. Donation is a common thread in our family as I myself was a kidney transplant recipient in 2018. There are very few contraindications to donating breastmilk but, unfortunately, being the recipient of an organ donation is one of them. It was hard for me not to be able to give back because when you receive so much from others you want to do the same.

Looking back at it, I realise that donor milk was the best my daughter could ever have received for the first 2 days of her life. Today, even if I can’t donate my maternal milk, I consider myself an ‘ambassador’ for milk donation. I promote it as much as possible by talking about it to my family, my friends and in my job. This is my own way of helping the hospital bank milk who will always need new donors. The more we talk about it around us, the more donors there will be!

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