An “urgent” appeal for new mothers to donate breast milk has been issued with stocks becoming low after the Christmas period, according to the Western Trust.
The Trust said demand for breast milk comes with the Human Milk Bank in Enniskillen having provided almost 1,500 litres of donated milk to neonatal units across the island of Ireland in the last twelve months.
The Trust said donated milk by new mothers would ensure there is adequate supply in neonatal units, with the milk vital in helping vulnerable babies fight viruses and bacteria in those critical first few weeks.
Elizabeth Bailie, coordinator of the Western Trust Milk Bank at the South West Acute Hospital said the service has helped over 550 babies, including 92 sets of twins, 11 sets of triplets and one set of quads in the last year.
“Human milk contains substances which help the babies fight viruses and bacteria. It fats that helps develop the immature brain, eye and nervous system,” she explained.
“Most important for the premature baby it helps to protect the immature gut from Necrotizing Entero Colitis (NEC), a life threatening condition. Breast milk also helps protect babies from pneumonia and septicaemia.”
There are some requirements for those seeking to donate breast milk, including that donors are non-smokers, have not had a blood transfusion and are not on drugs that pass into breastmilk.
They must also not have had a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture or have visited countries which have a presence of malaria within the last year.
Ms Bailie added: “We are very grateful to all the mums who donate milk to the unit and there is always the need to recruit new donors.
“Donors are required to be registered by the time baby reaches three months old and once registered the Milk Bank will accept milk donations up until the sixth month.
“All milk donations received must be in sterile milk bottles when expressed and donated into the service within three months of expression.”
If you would like to find out more about the Milk Bank and becoming a donor please contact the Milk Bank on Tel: (028) 6862 8333 or email TMB.SWAH@westerntrust.hscni.net.
More information about the service is also available on the Western Health and Social Care Trust website:www.westerntrust.hscni.net