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Tiny babies bring big worries! – Netherlands

Premature babies face many challenges during their first few days and weeks having been born with immature brains, lungs, digestive and immune systems. The earlier they are born, the greater their chances of experiencing serious health problems related to any of these and so for their parents these potential challenges can bring huge anxieties. Human milk with its easily digested and absorbed nutrition and its abundance of immune boosting components offers a medicine as well as a food for all babies but especially for these very tiny infants.  When a mother’s own milk isn’t available or there isn’t enough, donor human milk from a human milk bank is the universally acknowledged second best food as many of the unique human milk components remain even after freezing and heat treatments.

This little boy, born in January 2021 at 26 weeks gestation, was facing over 2 months in the NICU when he first received a feed of donor milk on his first day of life. The National Human Milk Bank, founded in 2011, provides a service for premature babies born in hospitals throughout the country. His mother describes a number of benefits including ease of digestion – something that is very important for tiny guts. Her words describe her feelings during those first 2 months:

‘I cannot express the level of stress and worry you feel over your child in that delicate and fragile time. At that age even small things like head position and diaper changes can be difficult for a child to manage. Donor breast milk helped my son remain more stable and ease his challenges as he grew. By the time he left hospital he was 2 and a half times his birthweight. When I was unable to produce enough breast milk to feed my son, having access to donor milk was a huge relief. I’m so grateful to the hospital, milk bank and especially the donors for what they have done.’

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