Local mothers help others during donor drive

Mother Alejandra Liebrect, left, looks on as father, Davy Liebrect and ten- month-old John, get instruction from Laura Brown, right, of Baby Wearing L.A. on a variety of baby carriers during the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Donor Breast Milk Drive held in the Community Education Center at the Henry Mayo Newhall Fitness and Health center in Valencia on Thursday. 082919. Dan Watson/The Signal
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Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital proudly supported National Breast Feeding Awareness Month this August by hosting a Donor Breast Milk Drive last Thursday.

In partnership with Mother’s Milk Bank, Henry Mayo’s Lactation Services Department hosted the donor drive that resulted in the collection of more than 2,500 ounces of frozen breastmilk, which is equivalent to more than 600 meals for newborn babies.

While human breast milk is beneficial for all newborns, it is especially helpful for at-risk premature infants who are in neonatal intensive care units, or NICUs, said Pauline Sakamoto, executive director of Mother’s Milk Bank. 

“A majority of our clients are premature infants or mothers, who for one reason or another are having trouble producing milk,” Sakamoto said, “so we think of pasteurized milk as a bridge so the baby gets fed while the mother works out her lactation.”

Because of its immunologic components, breast milk offers protection from potentially life-threatening infections while also providing optimal nutrition and the promotion of bone growth, Sakamoto said, mentioning how formula lacks the ability to do the same.

The nonprofit has been in operation for 45 years and has sent 712,000 ounces of milk out to NICU babies or families in need, according to Sakamoto. 

“This milk is precious. It’s like white gold,” she added.

“This is a one day event but Henry Mayo is a designated milk bank so residents who are considering donating should contact the hospital to see how,” Lactation Specialist Dawn Bower said during the event. “It takes a simple phone interview and as long as everything is copacetic, you’ll have your blood drawn and will be given a milk bank number so you can come and drop off frozen milk.”

The hospital is very pleased to offer local moms the opportunity to donate their extra milk to babies in need, said May Beth Sweet, Lactation Program Coordinator at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. “We are so grateful to our donors who are providing human milk to help nourish and support the tiniest NICU babies across our state. It really does take a village.”

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