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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The cup of life

Photo by Rudy Liwanag, Manila Bulletin
I was quite excited to read the feature about the Philippine General Hospital's Milk Bank in Friday's Manila Bulletin. As I shared in my previous post, I was trying to get my milk pasteurized but they could't run the pasteurization machine because of lack of milk donations. Also, this article ran contrary to the practice at the other hospital used bottles for their premature babies. At the UP-PGH, premature babies were cupfed with their own mother's milk or pasteurized donor's milk.
UP-PGH Milk Bank is where I regularly donate milk in the past year. As emphasized by Dr. Jessa Sareno, a neonatologist fellow, their credo is as follows:
Human milk has no substitute. Breast milk also has immunoprotective properties that fight against life-threatening infections like sepsis, pneumonia, diarrhea, and enterocolitis. It likewise has components, which help the newborn’s intestinal tract to mature, allowing for easy digestion, better absorption, faster growth, and better health. Plus, it also has nutrients in a combination that no artificial product can duplicate.
This article is close to my heart because of my niece Anya Carissa. UP-PGH is a public hospital but I was amazed to read that their lactation unit took time out to teach mothers how to hand express milk and had the patience to cup-feed the babies. As opposed to my niece's hospital - where the doctor just told her breastfeed without details on how to breastfeed a premature baby or how to keep up her supply. My sister has been having problems with supply and Anya is still not up to her birth weight -- so now, Dr. Q is suggesting that my sister purchase Spirulina to mix to her breastmilk!
When my sister first breastfed her, Anya was removed from the NICU and taken to the breastfeeding room. Since only the mother and baby could stay in the breastfeeding room, I asked my sister if a nurse stayed with her to show her how to properly position and latch Anya. She said that the nurse only stayed for a short while and she was left to her own devices. I wish this hospital -- with all its expensive equipment, gear, marketing ploys - would set aside some of its budget to purchase a pasteurization machine and hire an honest-to-goodness lactation consultant. This hospital even has its own cord banking unit -- but no breastfeeding support.
Anyway, the article suggests some ways you can be a milk angel to the UP-PGH Milk Bank - by becoming a financial or milk donor, or by becoming a volunteer to cup-feed babies. Dr. Jessa even suggests celebrating your birthday in a unique way by volunteering to cup feed the babies. I'm guessing that the PGH neonatal unit is a much more loving setting and a far cry from Anya's cold, sterile own NICU.
To know more how you can help, contact the Lactation Unit and Human Milk Bank, 4th Floor, LCB, Philippine General Hospital, 5218450 local 3418/3409.

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