This mom went from struggling to breastfeed to becoming a milk donor – here's how you can donate too

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Breastmilk is best for babies an experts say for prematurely born babies, it is medicine.
Breastmilk is best for babies an experts say for prematurely born babies, it is medicine.
PHOTO: GALLO IMAGES/Zuko Wonderfull Sikhafungana

It's considered to be one of the most natural things for a new mom to do – having a baby latch onto your nipple and getting your breast to produce milk to nourish the child.

For many reasons, though, some moms – for example, mothers who give birth to premature babies – often cannot breastfeed. This is where the South African Breastmilk Reserve comes in.

According to executive director Stasha Jordan, the bank feeds about 6 000 vulnerable babies every year.

"The babies we are talking about are micro prem who are between 500g and 1.8kg and they drink 0.8ml every three hours and their mothers are have failing health.

Read more | 9 benefits of breastfeeding you need to know

"We are not for women who are not making breastmilk and do not want give their babies formula, we send those women to lactation specialists. A lot of women who have full term babies do not know about us because they never have to use our services. First-time mothers in tough situations end up knowing about us because of their need," she says

Mothers who have excess breastmilk can donate nationwide, Stasha says. "Those who are interested can reach out to us online and go through the sign up process. Then we will get back to them with the criteria they need, in order to donate."

Zubenathi Jezile is the mom of a four-month-old boy. She's had a tough breastfeeding journey but now has excess milk she would like to donate.

Her son could not latch on her breast and, after several nurses and a lactation specialist could not help her, she was advised to try exclusively pumping and bottle-feeding her son.

"It was really hard at the beginning," Zubenathi recalls. "At some point, my supply was low. Then the supply picked up after I started pumping every time Baby would've had a feed.

Read more | WHO encourages mothers to breastfeed even if infected with Covid-19

"I did a lot of research and I learnt that it was important to mimic the feeds in order to teach my body to produce the milk my son needed.

"Now that my supply has drastically improved, it is important for me to help mothers. As women, we should talk more about these things so that women in need do not have to suffer. Moms of prem babies need milk and those who are able to, should donate."

Zubenathi pumps about 1 800ml a day and her son drinks 1 100mls a day.

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