It’s essential to a newborn baby’s growth and development. “Breast milk is extremely important for babies, especially premature babies. Breast milk reduces the chances of getting asthma and allergies later in life,” explained Elizabeth Futral, milk lab pharmacy technician with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
But if a premature baby can’t breast feed, health experts at Golisano Children’s Hospital have other options. “It’s always best for baby to feed at breast, but when babies are born prematurely, and they are too sick to feed at the mother’s breast, then the mothers are encouraged to pump their breast milk as soon as they are able and then bring it to the milk lab so that we can get it to the baby,” said Futral.
Once the milk is brought to the milk lab, pharmacists can test the mother’s milk to determine what added ingredients, like calories and protein, are needed to help the baby grow. “We can make sure that it’s not deficient, or having too many other fats that may be affecting their growth, that way we can tailor fit a recipe to help the baby go home faster. We would actually fortify the breast milk in the lab using aseptic technique, then we dose it out, and then we prepare and send it to the bedside,” she said.
As the baby grows, the amount of calories, fortifiers, and nutrients added to the milk are decreased. “We see that the babies are going home, and we are happy for them, and that’s really the best part of our job is seeing that really small infant get the milk that we’re preparing, and because of that they can go home and be healthy and thrive,” Futral said.
Helping mothers feel closer to their baby until they are healthy enough to go home.