Donated Breast Milk Now Here to Aide Newborns

On July 11, a baby was transferred from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Hamilton Health Sciences Centre to our Special Care Nursery. Nothing unusual there except baby Amelia had been exclusively fed with donor breast milk since her birth. Now for the first time, the Hospital had the ability to provide donor milk, rather than transitioning the baby to formula.

It’s a welcome addition says our Lactation Consultant, Margaret Sherratt. “It was so terrific to be able to say to mom we could continue with donor breast milk. I am so happy that we are able to do this.” Margaret explained formula can be essential for infants in situations where the mother’s milk supply can’t be established but there are so many benefits of human milk.

Amelia’s mom, Sarah, said she was relieved she could continue receiving donor breast milk for her preterm baby. “She needs all of the support possible, she hasn’t had an easy start. This will bridge us until my own milk is in. I am so grateful this is an option and thank the other mothers who donated their breast milk. Such a precious gift!”

The donated milk arrives once a week from the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank at Mount Sinai Hospital. Here, it is stored in the special fridge bought with donations. The inventory is managed by Jackie Sanvido, our Resource Nurse in the Special Care Nursery.

Breast milk is best for these preterm babies says Jackie. Their medical outcomes are vastly improved with the antibodies in the milk and a better establishment of the gut biome. Gastrointestinal tract issues are a real concern with preemies. “Preemies are just better able to tolerate breast milk,” Jackie says. “They need to grow and we want them to keep the milk down. There could be milk from as many as seven mothers in each bottle, an advantage for the infant as it expands their immunity greatly.”

Luckily for Guelph General, a donation for $1,000 was given to the Foundation earmarked for breastfeeding. The donor, Penelope Van Esterik, has spent decades of her academic career in Anthropology at York University researching, writing and lecturing about infant feeding issues globally and wanted to support access to breastfeeding locally. “This is exactly what I wanted my donation to achieve. I believe passionately in the benefits of breastfeeding and wanted to help encourage it at my local hospital.”

Photo: Jackie, our Resource Nurse in the Special Care Nursery (right) with mom Sarah and baby Amelia.

Rob Cameron from The Foundation of Guelph General Hospital and Laurie Williamson from Guelph General Hospital talk about a breast milk fridge.