As a public relations specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital, I work closely with our neonatal intensive care unit doctors and nurses to help create awareness about all of the incredible treatments and therapies that are benefiting premature and critically-ill babies. One of the amazing things offered to babies in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) is donor breast milk, which helps these babies thrive and reduces rates of necrotizing enterocolitis, a potentially fatal condition.
Each year, as we approach National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, I connect with moms whose babies were treated in our NICU and received donor milk to share their stories to help educate the general public and to encourage women to donate their excess breast milk to help babies in need, right here at Texas Children’s.
August marked the second anniversary of our donor breast milk program at Texas Children’s and this year, it has a special personal meaning to me as I’m one of the lucky moms whose baby benefited from donor milk.
My daughter Harper was born this May at the Pavilion for Women. After a healthy pregnancy, we both ran fevers after delivery so Harper was taken to the NICU as a precaution and started on antibiotics. Though I was devastated to be separated from her, I immediately asked my nurse for a breast pump so I could provide the “liquid gold” I was producing to nourish her. I also requested that Harper receive only donor milk, in addition to my own colostrum (a form of breast milk produced at the end of pregnancy) while in the NICU. From my involvement with our donor milk program, I knew how crucial those first feedings were to build her intestinal lining and immune system.
Harper continued to be monitored in the NICU and was eventually moved to our room where she received light therapy for jaundice. She continued to receive both donor milk and my colostrum at this time. We even got some of her remaining donor milk to take home when we were discharged.
We have a healthy baby who is thriving and I’m grateful that Texas Children’s recognizes the importance of breast milk and offers it to moms of both sick and healthy babies. I’m also incredibly thankful for all of the amazing moms who selflessly donate their milk to help babies here at Texas Children’s. As a mom who exclusively pumps, I know how time consuming it can be to pump and clean pumping parts, especially when you are pumping extra milk beyond what your own baby needs.
I have always enjoyed working to promote our donor milk program. And now I can share my own story about how in those first moments as a new mother, I was comforted by the fact that I knew my daughter would be getting breast milk right from the start. The gift of breast milk is an immeasurable benefit for the babies who need it and I’m so glad that women in our community and beyond have recognized this need and provided such a special gift to our newborns.