Texas Children's Pavilion for Women Now Offers Donor Milk
Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, one of the nation's premier facilities for women's, fetal and newborn health, is now offering pasteurized donor breast milk to breastfeeding mothers of healthy newborns who need supplementation during the important early days of the baby's life.
For a variety of medical reasons, some breastfed babies need additional milk, known as supplemental feedings, in the first few days after birth, explains Nancy Hurst, PhD, RN, director of Women's Support Services and the Mothers' Milk Bank at Texas Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). Reasons might include a delay in the mother's milk production or an infant with low blood sugar or weight loss. "By making donor breast milk available to these moms, Texas Children's enables them to give their babies all the benefits of human milk as an alternative to supplemental feeding with formula, particularly in the early days when the baby's digestive system is so sensitive," she said.
Studies have proven that human breast milk provides many benefits to babies. The antibodies and other factors in human milk help protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. In addition, the nutritional components in human milk contain the right combination of proteins, fat, vitamins and carbohydrates that a baby needs during the early stages of life. For these reasons, hospitals such as Texas Children's recommend feeding babies with human milk, rather than formula, whenever possible.
"Evidence-based medicine tells us how beneficial breast milk is to the immature gut of newborns," said Dr. Michael Speer, medical director of the Mother Baby Unit at Texas Children's Pavilion for Women and professor of pediatrics at BCM. "There is no man-made substitute for the nutritional and immunity-boosting properties that a mother's milk contains."
To facilitate this new program, Texas Children's Pavilion for Women is keeping a supply of ½-ounce doses of pasteurized donor milk in the mother baby unit so that it is readily available to patients who are not able to breastfeed effectively. The pasteurized donor milk is offered at no charge and is available to mom as needed for her newborn during her stay at the Pavilion.
"A mother's milk is the first choice for newborn health," Hurst said. "Because of the generosity of Houston women who have donated their excess breast milk to the Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank, we are able to offer the health benefits of breast milk to even more babies."
Before this expanded initiative, the hospital's donor breast milk was provided only to babies in Texas Children's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), which follows a feeding protocol of 100 percent human milk for NICU babies weighing less than 3.3 pounds. Texas Children's NICU relies on donor breast milk to meet the nutritional needs of these fragile infants. Speer stated that the hospital's NICU infants will continue to be the first priority for receiving Texas Children's donor breast milk.
Hurst noted that breast milk remains in high demand and encourages Houston-area mothers to consider donating their excess breast milk to Texas Children's Mothers' Milk Bank in support of the hospital's tiniest patients and the mothers who are not able to produce enough milk of their own. Frozen breast milk can be donated up to 12 months after it has been expressed. To donate, mothers can visit texaschildrens.org/milk to complete the online registration and an assessment questionnaire, or call 832-824-MILK for more information.
Texas Children's has promoted mother's own milk feeding for many years through its Lactation and Milk Bank Services. The hospital's family-centered maternity care model provides mothers and newborns with the foundation for successful breastfeeding by promoting skin-to-skin contact during the first hour of birth, providing support from board-certified lactation consultants, allowing the mother and baby to room together at all times and offering a supportive environment that promotes bonding and attachment.
Situated in the heart of the Texas Medical Center, the 15-story Texas Children's Pavilion for Women is designed to care for a woman throughout her life and offers a full range of obstetrical and gynecological services, beginning before conception and continuing after delivery. The Pavilion is one of the few hospitals worldwide to offer a full spectrum of maternal and fetal medicine services including an array of fetal diagnostic procedures and highly specialized fetal surgeries. Level II and Level III NICU care is provided in 36 private rooms, four of which are specifically designed to accommodate multiples. A two-story circular sky bridge connects the Pavilion to Texas Children's West Tower and Clinical Care facilities, enhancing patient care by providing physicians, staff and patient families with rapid access to all patient care facilities.
For more information on Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, visit women.texaschildrens.org.