I was a formula fed baby. To my mom, breastfeeding was somewhat of a taboo subject. I think she was taken a little off guard when I informed her early in my pregnancy that I planned to breastfeed her first grandchild. When Jackson was born 16 weeks preterm, weighing just one pound and eight ounces, he was too medically fragile to breast feed at first. Even if his medical condition would have allowed me to hold him, his brain lacked the developmental capacity to successfully suck, swallow, and remember to breathe. But, as a preemie, his need for breast milk was even more crucial. (Pictured is Jackson receiving his first bottle at 2 months; he learned to breastfeed at 6 months of age.)
Shortly after Jackson’s birth, I was encouraged to begin a rigorous pumping routine to stimulate my milk supply. Even though Jackson could not breastfeed, he could still greatly benefit from the immunological factors that are unique to human milk. I was blessed to have an abundant supply of milk. Unfortunately, many moms of preemies are not as lucky. The past decade has seen the proliferation of milk banks across the country to ensure babies that are unable to receive milk from their biological parent, can receive safe, donated, human milk. (If you are currently nursing and would like information about milk donation, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America to find the location of a milk bank near you).
As amazing and as critical as breast milk is for preemies, it often falls short in meeting the needs of the smallest and sickest babies. For these preemies, a human milk fortifier is required to ensure adequate amounts of protein, fat, vitamins and minerals are present to support the accelerated growth rate of the smallest infants. (During the first six months of life, a term infant will double its weight while a preemie’s weight will triple).
The only commercially sterile liquid human milk fortifier on the market is made by Mead Johnson Nutrition. Founded in 1905 by E. Mead Johnson, whose son had special health care needs complicated by feeding challenges, the company’s mission is to nourish the world’s children for the best start in life. I am very proud to announce Hand to Hold’s collaboration with Mead Johnson, which will allow Hand to Hold’s print newsletter, “Hand Prints” to be distributed to 650 Level III NICUs across the country!
“Mead Johnson Nutrition is excited to work with Hand to Hold to provide the parents of premature babies with relevant and compassionate support, so that their children may achieve the best start in life.”
Hand to Hold is honored to have earned the support of a company whose products directly benefit the lives of hundreds of thousands of babies all over the world each year. This unique and exciting collaboration will ensure parents of preemies receive information, support and education during and after a NICU stay.
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