This is my second year raising funds for the March of Dimes March for Babies. Sadly, last year we were not able to actually walk because we were ill the week of the walk, but I am very excited to this year. I am also excited to beat my goal last year and I count on all of you faithful readers to help me do so.
Peanut was not born premature. Honestly, I only know one person who was born prematurely. Even at that, I never actually witnessed it because we were the same age. Last year when I started raising funds, people were amazed that I was doing so when I didn’t have a personal story.
Do you know why I care? Because I’ve heard stories. I’ve heard of women who have their babies long before they were planning to and the struggles they go through in the aftermath. Of course there are many hardships with having a preemie, but I always focus on breastfeeding. That’s why I have this blog, right?
I’ve heard of moms struggling throughout their entire breastfeeding relationships with pumping and feeding, nipple shields, and even ending their breastfeeding relationships much too soon. Sadly, these babies are the ones who need it the most. These babies not only need breast milk to heal the damage of being born before they’re ready, but they need the kind that comes from their moms. Yes, moms to babies who are born prematurely produce a different kind of milk. The actual composition of the milk is meant for these babies. Here’s a quote from La Leche League
The milk produced by the mother of a pre-term infant is higher in protein and other nutrients than the milk produced by the mother of a term infant. Human milk also contains lipase, an enzyme that allows the baby to digest fat more efficiently. Your breastfed premie is less likely to develop infections that are common to babies fed breastmilk substitutes. He will be protected by the immunities in your milk while his own immature immune system is developing.
That is amazing. Babies born prematurely are at an increased risk to infection and disease, both while growing in the NICU and for the next year or so of life. They need the immunity properties of breast milk even more than babies born full term. They also need that protein and fat to help them grow. It’s amazing how our bodies work to make milk that’s perfect for each of our babies at a specific point in time.
Many hospitals are realizing this and at least offering pumped donor milk to premature infants in the NICU, but this needs to go a step further. As the La Leche League article explains, the milk needs to be as fresh as possible. It needs to come from mom as much as possible. And while this may not be possible for weeks or even months, it needs to come directly from the breast as soon as possible. Moms need extra support to breastfeed their baby in these circumstances, but often we give them even less support than other moms.
This system needs to stop. We need to realize our priorities and get mothers of preemies the support they need to breastfeed. We need to help these tiny babies born too soon so that they can live longer, healthier lives. Whether or not a mom succeeds at breastfeeding should not be determined by protocol or routine. We should give them the absolute best chance to succeed, and then give a little more.
So here’s how you can help. If you can donate anything at all, please do so. Even if it’s a dollar. Anything helps. Here’s the link to our team page. If you’re reading this and you’re in the area, come join our team and walk. Proudly hold our banner saying that preemies need breast milk and we need to work our hardest to get it to them.