Mother holding baby

Human Donor Milk Program at CVMC Supplements Needs of Breastfeeding Babies

Posted on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 by Mary Letourneau, RN, BSN, IBCLC

Mary Letourneau, RN, BSN, IBCLC is a lactation consultant, coordinator for The Center for Breastfeeding at Central Vermont Medical Center.

Human babies are meant to drink human milk. When mother’s own milk isn’t available or is in short supply the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that Human Donor Milk is the next best choice.

The health benefits of breast milk are well known, and there are risks to babies who are exposed to artificial infant formula. This is especially important in the early newborn period when human milk’s protective and anti-inflammatory properties are priming the infant’s gut and allowing babies to have robust immune systems as they grow and mature.

“Even small amounts of formula can change an infant’s gut flora,” says Dr. Anna Hankins, Chief of Pediatrics at Pediatric Primary Care in Berlin, “so it’s important for breastfeeding to be exclusive whenever possible, having donor breastmilk allows that to happen.”

Heidi Eames, RN and Mary Letourneau, RN, both Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultants along with a team of Registered Nurses on CVMC’s Women and Children’s Unit worked for well over a year to establish this program. For years Donor Milk has been the gold standard for the most vulnerable premature babies in NICU’s across the country, and in recent years this valuable resource has become more widely available and can be offered to the older full term babies that CVMC serves.

Any newborn who has a medical need for supplementation and whose mothers are planning to exclusively breastfeed are eligible to receive donor human milk at Central Vermont Medical Center.

CVMC gets milk from the nonprofit New York Milk Bank, one of 18 banks in the United States and Canada approved by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, which follows strict federal pasteurization and screening guidelines.

“Patients started asking for it [donor milk]” and following the hospital’s mission to provide family-centered evidence based care “it was an easy decision to bring this on-board here as an option for our families” says Monica Cerminara Clinical Nurse Manager.

“I think it’s fabulous,” says Freyda Neyman, physician at Pediatric Primary Care in Berlin. “It’s been done informally for thousands of years, it’s something mothers have always done.”

The Center for Breastfeeding at CVMC is staffed by Board Certified Lactation Consultants and offers office visits, telephone consultation and support, a monthly prenatal breastfeeding class and monthly mother’s support group Bosom Buddies. For more information call 802-371-4415, visit our website or view our Donor Human Milk brochure.

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