4th June 2010
Holly was born prematurely and, at 26 weeks gestation and just 540g, she was tiny and extremely vulnerable. Breast milk had been recommended by midwives during antenatal checkups but I hadn’t really given feeding much thought before Holly arrived. Once she arrived, however, the benefits of breast milk for tiny sick babies over and above formula milk became clear. The medical staff explained how breast milk is much more easily digested by the baby’s immature digestive system, and the antibodies provided much needed support to help her fight infections, at a time when she was more susceptible than ever.
Introducing milk to Holly’s immature digestive system was a really tense time. It brought some relief knowing that breast milk was the gentlest for her and greatly reduced the risk of problems which could have resulted in surgery – almost unthinkable for such a small baby. When Holly was still on a drip and before she had any milk she caught an infection caused by bacteria which is harmless to stronger babies who have some immunity. The infection made her very poorly indeed. Seeing how she has grown and become much stronger since having breast milk, and knowing that the antibodies and nutrients of breast milk have helped her, provides great comfort.
Many mums of other premature babies on the Unit weren’t able to express sufficient milk, certainly in the first few days. By being a milk donor, it is great to think I could perhaps help ease some of the worries for other parents in the same position as us, by having donor milk rather than formula.