Mothers Asked to Make Human Milk Donations for Haiti Infants

Urgent Call for Human Milk Donations for Haiti Infants

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), United States Breastfeeding Committee (USBC), International Lactation Consultant Association/United States Lactation Consultant Association (ILCA/USLCA), and La Leche League International (LLLI) are jointly issuing an urgent call for human milk donations for premature infants in Haiti, as well as sick and premature infants in the United States.

This week the first shipment of human milk from mothers in the United States will be shipped to the U.S. Navy ship Comfort stationed outside Haiti. Comfort is currently set up with a neonatal intensive care unit and medical personnel to provide urgent care to victims of the earthquake. An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant stationed at the U.S. Navy base in Bethesda, MD is assisting with providing breast pump equipment and supplies to Comfort. Dr. Erika Beard-Irvine, pediatric neonatologist, is on board to coordinate distribution of the milk to infants in need. HMBANA, USBC, ILCA/USLCA, and LLLI are responding to requests to provide milk for both premature infants and at-risk mothers who have recently delivered babies on board the USNS Comfort, but an urgent need exists for additional donations.

At the current time, the infrastructure to deliver human milk to Haiti infants on land has not yet been established. As soon as that infrastructure is in place, additional donations will be provided to older infants.

Mothers who are willing to donate human milk should contact their regional Mothers’ Milk Bank of HMBANA. A list of regional milk banks is available on the HMBANA web site.

Currently milk banks are already low on donor milk. New milk donations will be used for Haiti victims as well as to replenish donor supplies to continue to serve sick and premature infants in the United States. Donor milk provides unique protection for fragile preterm infants.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the Emergency Nutrition Network, and medical professionals all recommend that breastfeeding and human milk be used for infants in disasters or emergencies. Human milk is life-saving due to its disease prevention properties. It is safe, clean, and does not depend on water which is often unavailable or contaminated in an emergency. Relief workers, health care providers, and other volunteers are urged to provide support for breastfeeding mothers to enable them to continue breastfeeding, and to assist pregnant and postpartum women in initiating and sustaining breastfeeding.

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Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative in Northampton

Cooley Dickinson Hospital Childbirth Center takes baby steps toward national initiative

Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Childbirth Center in Northampton, MA has received a certificate of intent from the UNICEF/World Health Organization Baby-Friendly USA Hospital initiative. Receiving this document is a first step in Cooley Dickinson’s application process toward becoming certified as a Baby-Friendly hospital, according to this organization’s ten-step process.

Paula Mattson, international board certified lactation consultant and the hospital’s liaison to the Baby-Friendly initiative says the receipt of the certificate indicates “Cooley Dickinson has joined other pioneering birth facilities in setting standards of excellence for assisting pregnant women and new mothers with breastfeeding.”

“While the certificate recognizes Cooley Dickinson’s commitment to breastfeeding and to the completion of the first phase of the application process, additional steps such as nurse and physician training need to occur before the Childbirth Center can promote itself as a Baby-Friendly hospital,” adds Mattson. Boston Medical Center is the only Massachusetts hospital that has met all standards of the Baby-Friendly USA Hospital Initiative.

The certificate of intent lauds Cooley Dickinson Hospital for its “sincere commitment to promote, support and protect breastfeeding by striving to implement the Ten Steps to successful breastfeeding of the UNICEF/WHO Baby-Friendly Hospital initiative.” Mattson says Cooley Dickinson employees are working toward those steps, which according to the UNICEF/WHO include:

  1. Maintaining a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.
  2. Training all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.
  3. Informing all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.
  4. Helping mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
  5. Showing mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation, even if they are separated from their infants.
  6. Giving breastfeeding infants no food or drink other than breast milk, unless medically indicated.
  7. Practicing “rooming in”– allow mothers and infants to remain together 24 hours a day.
  8. Encouraging unrestricted breastfeeding.
  9. Give no pacifiers or artificial nipples to breastfeeding infants.
  10. Foster the establishment of breastfeeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

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