Donating Breast Milk to CHOC

CHOC Children’s has long relied on donated pasteurized breast milk to help provide the best nutrition to infants receiving care in its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

And starting this summer, CHOC is initiating a breast milk donation service that CHOC_Breastmilk_bankwill allow women to donate extra breast milk in the name of CHOC.

Under the program, women pump milk at home, freeze it and send it to a third-party company, Prolacta Bioscience, for processing and safety testing. After pasteurizing and standardizing, Prolacta sends the finished product to CHOC.

Under the program, CHOC will be able to maintain an adequate supply of donor milk, regardless of the how many local women donate, says Dr. Christine Bixby, a CHOC neonatologist.

“CHOC was probably one of the earliest adopters of using donor milk in our preterm population,” she says. “The trend is to use donor milk and this is approaching a standard of care where if you do not have maternal milk, you use donor milk for the preterm babies.”

Dr. Bixby hopes that the new program will help encourage more women to donate milk, especially because they know their milk will help babies in their local community.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know what to do with their extra milk,” she says. “So, any moms who have too much milk can look into donating it, rather than throwing it out. These babies can really benefit from the donor milk and it’s a limited resource. This would be a great gift.”

Medical experts have found that donor human milk is an excellent alternative to a mother’s breast milk, and that premature babies tolerate donated human milk better than formula.

“The data is quite strong in the use of a human milk-based diet,” says Dr. Bixby.  “There’s a lot about breast milk that is so much better than formula.”

Learn more about our breast milk donation program.

Related articles:

  • Meet Dr. Christine Bixby
    CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Christine Bixby, a neonatologist. She completed a fellowship in neonatology, as well as her ...
  • World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7
    By Joanne DeMarchi, MA, RD, IBCLC, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), below are some helpful guidelines for working moms who wish to breastfeed. WBW is celebrated ...
  • Thank You, Nursing Mothers!
    Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babies receiving care at CHOC. Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women ...

 

Support CHOC and Your Favorite Baseball Team

Summer is here, and this season isn’t complete without a little baseball. After all, the sport is considered AmericaCHOC_Baseball_NICU’s pastime!

And did you know there’s a way to support your favorite baseball team and CHOC Children’s tiniest patients at the same time?

A campaign underway at CHOC allows fans to pledge a hospital donation for every game won by their favorite baseball team – or even make a one-time donation. All money raised supports CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which cares for the smallest and youngest of its patients.

The campaign was devised by a former sports columnist at the Orange County Register, who earlier this year proposed that his readers rally behind their favorite team and their favorite cause simultaneously.

Learn more about how you can cheer on your favorite team and help CHOC doctors, nurses and staff go to bat for their patients at www.choc.org/angels.

 

Neonatology: Then and Now

sbu_thenandnowCHOC Children’s has always done a great job of treating premature babies, and infants with heart problems, infections or birth defects. Over the last 50 years, I’ve seen technology and medicine change a lot in neonatology.

An extra special place at CHOC is its Small Baby Unit, a program within its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Reserved for the smallest and sickest babies, this unit gives hope to babies who wouldn’t have had a chance in 1964.

There, every newborn receives care from dedicated staff members. The space also has shrouded incubators to keep light away from the baby’s sensitive eyes and everyone (even family members) speaks gently to help create a calm, comforting and healing environment.

Kangaroo Care is another technique in neonatology that has grown in popularity since 1964. As babies spend time lying on their parents’ chests, they become more alert, cry less often and even a find feeding rhythm. Premature babies benefit from this practice by facing fewer complications, gaining weight and growing closer to their parents.

I know the doctors and nurses at CHOC care about the precious lives in the NICU. They provide exceptional service, but they’re not just focused on treating symptoms or reading monitors. They are also committed to giving newborns and families a strong chance of living healthy lives.

Tell me how CHOC helped your newborn baby and family by using the hashtag #thxCHOC on social media.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CHOC Children’s 67-bed NICU includes four multi-patient rooms, six single care rooms, four private rooms for “rooming in,” and two four-bed suites. The unit also features a two-bed Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) unit. The life-saving ECMO unit is the only one of its kind in Orange County and CHOC also offers Orange County’s only ECMO transport unit.

Breastfeeding Premature Infants

breastfeeding_preemiesParents of premature infants face many new challenges as they help their special infant grow and flourish, and breastfeeding is often one of them.

“Breastfeeding a preemie is possible but the exclusive breastfeeding of a baby, especially the earlier premature babies, is not always nutritionally appropriate,” says Dr. Christine Bixby, a CHOC Children’s neonatologist who specializes in caring for premature infants.

There’s rarely a case where a premature baby can’t get some breast milk, she says. For example, in CHOC’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), nurses add powdered formula to breast milk to increase the nutrient levels.

“The breast milk is the best base, so we add some nutrients and that helps the baby grow,” says Dr. Bixby, who is involved in research studies focusing on issues related to breast milk, establishing a milk supply and using breast milk for premature babies.

Mothers of premature babies often have difficulty producing milk or sustaining production, Dr. Bixby says.

“Oftentimes moms are unable to make milk early in the process or sustain it, which given the prematurity of their baby, isn’t surprising,” Dr. Bixby says.

So, while the baby is at CHOC, lactation consultants and other specialists are available to help and encourage a mother to pump, if possible. The best way for a mother of a premature baby to establish a milk supply is to begin pumping as early as possible, ideally within six hours of delivery, she says. The mother should attempt to pump regularly, which physicians understand can be challenging when her baby is in the NICU.

For early feedings, donor human milk is an excellent alternative to a mother’s breast milk. CHOC purchases breast milk from a milk bank to offer babies whose mothers cannot produce milk, Dr. Bixby says. Milk donors are tested and the banked milk is completely safe, she adds.

Specialized formulas are also available for later feedings and following discharge. These both provide extra nutrients to help older premature babies grow, Dr. Bixby says.

“If the milk doesn’t come, regardless of why, it’s not worth dwelling on it,” she says. “Parents should ask their doctor about the best formula available and focus on creating a nurturing and loving environment for their baby.”

Related articles:

  • Meet Dr. Christine Bixby
    CHOC Children’s wants its patients and families to get to know its specialists. Today, meet Dr. Christine Bixby, a neonatologist. She completed a fellowship in neonatology, as well as her ...
  • World Breastfeeding Week is Aug. 1-7
    By Joanne DeMarchi, MA, RD, IBCLC, lactation consultant at CHOC Children’s In recognition of World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), below are some helpful guidelines for working moms who wish to breastfeed. WBW is celebrated ...
  • Thank You, Nursing Mothers!
    Another group of people I am extremely grateful for are the community’s nursing mothers, who can also help the babies receiving care at CHOC. Under CHOC’s breast milk donation service, women ...

New Webcam System Connects Parents with Babies in the NICU

No parent imagines having to leave the hospital without their newborn. For those parents who have to keep their little ones in the neonatal intensive care unit at CHOC Children’s at Mission Hospital for treatment, however, there is now special technology to ensure families can be together and bond with their newborns when they can’t be at the bedside.

Baby Peyton Valentine and family were among the first families to enjoy the new NICVIEW webcam system in the NICU at CHOC Children's at Mission Hospital.
Baby Peyton Valentine and her family were among the first families to enjoy the new NICVIEW webcam system in the NICU at CCMH.

CHOC Mission is proud to be the first children’s hospital in California to offer the new NICVIEW webcam system. The system allows families to see real-time, live video of their infant remotely, from anywhere they can log on to the Internet.

“This takes family-centered care to a higher level,” said Liz Drake, clinical nurse specialist in the NICU at CHOC Mission, where the system went live on Aug. 21.

Katie and Andrew Hock of Ladera Ranch were among the first parents to benefit from the NICVIEW webcam system. Their daughter, Madeline, spent time in the NICU at CHOC Mission to be treated for respiratory problems after she was born on Aug. 16. The couple logged on to the webcam right away using their iPhones, and were able to look at their baby when they weren’t at the hospital.

“The camera gave me a sense of security, which is nice. I could see if she was still sleeping and her IV was still in,” said Katie, who along with her husband shared the password for their daughter’s video feed with their parents and siblings, including Katie’s sister who lives in Hawaii.

“The grandparents were addicted to seeing her all hours of the day,” Katie, a first-time mom, said with a laugh.

The NICVIEW webcam is easy to use with any major Internet browser. The information and video are secure, and only the baby’s family can allow other users to access the live video.

Users can view the baby at any time except when the baby is receiving nursing or medical care, or having a procedure. A webcam is mounted at every bedside in the NICU and families can opt in or out at any time, so use of the camera is up to them.

In addition to the bonding benefits of the NICVIEW webcam, there are also health benefits for the new parents and their newborn.

“If you can decrease the anxiety of a parent, you can reduce the overall stress of a hospitalization,” Drake said.

“Another benefit is for nursing mothers. It’s best for a mom to pump breast milk in front of her baby or a picture of her baby as this can help the mom produce more milk. When our moms are at home or can’t be here, this can help them pump with their babies in view. We’re creating a connection where they didn’t have one before,” Drake explained.

She added that the webcams are wonderful tools for military parents who are deployed overseas, and for out-of-state grandparents who can’t visit. It helps siblings at home who want to see their new baby brother or sister. They’re also great for moms who are visiting Orange County, and happen to give birth early or unexpectedly, and have family in another city or state who can’t visit.

Further, the webcams will help families bond with newborns in the NICU during flu season, when only the babies’ parents are allowed in the NICU for health safety reasons, Drake said.

“It’s wonderful. It’s amazing how far we’ve come with technology,” Katie said.

More technology articles: