NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – Would you mind your baby having someone else’s breast milk?
A question that one might not be quick to answer since the options might be limited.
But there is hope for new born babies who unfortunately might lose their mothers or she is unwell or the child is abandoned.
Mother’s milk is hailed for helping a baby’s immune system.
News of a milk bank at Pumwani hospital has attracted mixed reactions, with those reluctant about the noble initiative simply saying they don’t understand how it will work.
Capital FM News sought to clear the air and understand the ‘chemistry’ behind the project and what it means to mothers and their babies.
-Breast milk is sensitive –
Mary Agnes is aware of the milk bank and she has a set of queries.
“My auntie, who had a baby had issues with lactating. When she could finally breast feed, the milk was in excess and so she had to store it in a bottle since she had no refrigerator. But it would turn its colour at some point. Is this not likely to happen?” she asked.
But not all mothers have the same thoughts as Agnes, and they fully support the scheme and wouldn’t mind donating.
One of the supporting mothers is Anastasia Mwende, she said the project will help a lot of mothers.
“When I gave birth to my daughter it took a while before I could lactate. The struggle was real, as a mother I felt so much pain as I watched her yearn for something to feed on. This is why I support this because I know the suffering.” Mwende said.
– No cause for alarm –
A section of the mother’s has their doubts, but authorities say they will be cleared once the milk bank is completely functional.
Faith Njeru a nurse in the new unit narrates the process of donating to storing the milk.
She said that the first process is you would have to be a patient from Pumwani Hospital to be a registered donor and for the baby to be provided with the milk.
Njeru explains that one has to have surplus milk to donate.
“We have a nutritionist who will assist us in finding mothers with excess milk. After the mother feeds their baby that is when they are allowed to donate,” Njeru clarified.
When the mothers are done donating they go for a counselling session where they are enlightened more on why it is important for them to help.
After the counselling the mother is taken for screening to identify if the milk will be of help to the infants for their growth.
“Breast milk provides nutrients and immune factors that protect the baby against infections, allergies and illnesses.”
A sample of milk is taken from the mother then taken to the laboratory where it is tested using a high-tech machine that finds any micro-organisms.
If the breast milk is found negative this is a go ahead of pasteurizing it.
The milk is pasteurized by a pasteurizer machine by heating it at high temperatures of 62.5 per cent where the whole process takes two hours.
During this process the milk is already in the freezer to prevent it from going bad.
After the pasteurizing process is over, a sample of milk is collected from the end product for more lab test to be certain the milk is free from any micro-organisms.
“All this stages are done to ensure the milk is harmless for consumption. So the parents of the babies should trust the milk will be of great use to the babies,” Njeru said.
“The milk is stored in freezers at low temperatures and can be stored for a period of six months only and still help in the growth of the infants,” she added.
– First milk bank –
The Governor of Nairobi Mike Sonko launched the first human milk in East and Central Africa aimed at decreasing the mortality rate of infants in Nairobi and its environs.
The launch of the milk bank at Pumwani is a great relief to mothers and families who had lost hope in breastfeeding their young ones.
Over 500 human milk banks have been established in more than 37 countries around the world including Brazil, South Africa, India, Canada, Japan, and France, according to World Health Organizations (WHO).