MOTHERS who are unable to breastfeed their own babies and those who want to donate breast milk now have a facility they can go to.
Cebu’s first milk bank, the Human Milk Bank Facility, was inaugurated at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) on Thursday, Jan. 31.
A human milk bank is a service facility that collects, screens, processes, stores and distributes donated human milk to meet the needs of those requiring it.
Dr. Amanda Du, a newborn medicine specialist in VSMMC, said having a milk bank can help mothers who are not able to breastfeed their own babies.
“All mothers can produce milk but this is only for newborns whose mothers are not able to pump or produce milk. There are instances when mothers cannot give their own breast milk like those mothers who unfortunately died, those who are critically ill or are not conscious,” she said.
Dr. Amy Tan, a pediatrician, said that sick mothers are most likely to have a sick newborn, “that’s why donated milk is very important for our sickly babies.”
House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano (Taguig City, 2nd district), a known advocate of breastfeeding, shared that breastfeeding helped her son who was born with a congenital disease cope with the illness.
She told breastfeeding mothers about her experience during a brief talk with them after the inauguration.
Not all mothers who want to donate breast milk will be accommodated at the facility, especially if results of the screening show they are not fit to donate milk.
“We have to interview mothers to see if they are qualified to donate milk, to see if they don’t have infectious disease. If they are qualified, we will get milk from them and then preferably pasteurize it,” Du said.
The process involves tests to make sure that any bacteria that can cause diseases in babies are eliminated from the milk.
Dr. James Chin, a pediatrician and endocrinologist in VSMMC, said they are still waiting for the water supply needed for the pasteurization machine to be fully operational.
“Right now, we have a milk storage unit. We have milk donors. We have mothers who have plenty of milk supply so what we do is we collect from these mothers and store them temporarily. This is not ideal because we do not have the screening procedure,” he explained.
Du said that as soon as the water supply is available, they can already start the screening through pasteurization.
Buenaher Escuyos, 32, who recently gave birth to twins, said she is in favor of breast milk sharing.
“Makatabang gyud siya. Nakahatag na gani ko og breast milk sa ubang babies sa ward namo. Six ka babies na, sige ko og pump panghatag nila,” she said. (WENILYN SABALO, USJ-R INTERN)