Monday, March 17, 2014

Amplify Austin

Last year Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin raised nearly $25,000 during the inaugural 24-hour Amplify Austin citywide fundraising campaign. This year’s Amplify Austin begins Thursday, March 20, at 6 p.m., and the Milk Bank joins over 400 area non-profit organizations in requesting tax-deductible contributions. By 6 p.m. Friday, we aim to raise $50,000 – all earmarked for our Charitable Care Program. Can we do it? Yes!!! But we need your help.

Your contribution to the Milk Bank via Amplify Austin will be especially valuable to us. First, your gifts can be matched by generous sponsors. Second, we can win hourly $1,000 awards for the most donors and/or most dollars raised – and many of you will be feeding your babies in the middle of the night when other organizations’ donors are asleep!

Here’s how you can help us:

Email all your family and friends. Tell them what the Milk Bank means to you, and what our Charitable Care Program means to families with infants who have a medical need for donor human milk. This is the program that ensures infants in need receive donor human milk regardless of family insurance coverage or financial resources – $50,000 provides more than 11,000 ounces of lifesaving milk.

Contact all of your breastfeeding friends and family members and let them know about our “Night Owl Nursing Challenge.”  We have great prizes every hour from midnight to 5 a.m. Nursing moms (and other “night owls”) will want to be in the drawing for each hour’s prize, so have your phone and credit card handy when you wake up to feed your little ones. Check out some of our prizes:


Who couldn’t use some darling things for the little one?!




How about a night out?





Or a trip with the kids to the Thinkery and Amy’s Ice Cream. They’re both Austin favorites, and they love supporting the Milk Bank’s work.





Spa services, anyone?



And, finally,




We’re grateful to these sponsors, and we’ll be grateful for your support of the Milk Bank’s Charitable Care Program. Let us know when you are up by posting on our Facebook. We’ll be watching, listening, and chatting.

We need you in order to help more babies. Please join us through your donation.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

IBCLC Day

I have been a lactation consultant in private practice in Austin since 1987, when I was one of the first people in the city to pass the certification examination developed by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners.  As soon as they heard I'd become certified, my own children's pediatricians asked me if I would like to work in their office on an as-needed basis to help mothers who were having breastfeeding problems.  Within a year or two, to make these services more widely available, I nervously paid the rental deposit on a small suite of rooms that would become my first freestanding lactation clinic.  On the day I picked up the key, I remember wondering if I was crazy to be gambling on public acceptance for such a newly minted health care concept.  I don't know how she even heard about the clinic, but I hadn't even finished carrying in all the boxes of supplies when an anxious young mother with an infant in her arms stuck her head in the door, climbed over the clutter, and said:  "Please, can you help us?" 

Since that time, I have worked with hundreds of families who knew that breastfeeding provides the healthiest start for their babies, and who were determined to find the help they needed to succeed. I have also been honored to train other health professionals and to mentor LCs in our community in order to expand the access to care for more nursing mothers.  LCs are supposed to be change agents in our communities.  That call to action led me to serve for 20 years as a volunteer in the state legislature lobbying for breastfeeding rights.  It was also the impetus that motivated me to participate in the founding of the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin in order to ensure the availability of donor human milk for medically fragile babies.  It's funny though.  Almost 30 years on, I still often find myself defending the need for a profession of lactation consulting.

People ask:  Isn't breastfeeding natural?  Of course. Breastfeeding, like birth, is natural, but we would never expect a woman to give birth alone without skilled support.  For most mothers, breastfeeding has a steep learning curve and even some discomfort during the first few weeks.  Hospital stays are short; when women come home with their new babies, they often feel very alone and confused, especially about whether their baby is getting enough milk.  Families need identifiable resources in the community to answer their questions, help them solve specific problems, and to reassure them that it will get easier.  I think of LCs as "breastfeeding midwives." We help families transition through difficulties to reach their breastfeeding goals.  LCs want to make sure mothers get to the good part, where nursing a baby becomes one of life's sweet pleasures. 

So on this day when we honor LCs, I say thanks to all those in the community who recognize breastfeeding's contributions to the public health and well-being, and thanks to all those wonderful Central Texas families whose lives I've been privileged to impact.

Barbara Wilson-Clay, BSEd, IBCLC, FILCA

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Power of his Mom's Milk

Calvin's Story
Written by his mother, Faith Galante

I have always acknowledged the benefits of breastfeeding. Growing up with a Lactation Consultant for a mother will do that to you, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect to witness them first hand like I did. Twenty weeks into my pregnancy with my brand new husband, an ultrasound revealed a hole in our baby son's stomach. The ultrasound tech handed us off to an OB who could barely pronounce the defect, Gastroschisis.

At a specialist appointment, we learned more about this anomaly that had busted into our lives. Gastroschisis is a rare congenital defect that affects about 1/2,500 births. In the past ten years, the frequency has doubled. I watched the little shadow baby on the screen bopping around my womb without a care in the world, and I also observed the hole in his abdomen that his small intestine had begun to herniate through.

Things began to happen very fast. We were lost in a sea of doctors appointments, surgeon interviews and NICU tours, all the while trying to come to grips that a "normal" birth just was no longer in the cards for us. The plan was for him to be taken early, via c-section, to prevent damage to his exposed intestine. He would be rushed to the NICU and operated on just hours after birth. I found solace in survivor stories on the internet, videos of gastro babies on youtube, and the charity and support group Avery's Angels.

In the beginning of May, we set a date for my planned c-section that would bring Calvin into the world just a few weeks early. His exposed bowel looked good as far as the ultrasounds could tell, and we wanted him to stay put as long as possible considering what was waiting for him after birth. It seems fate had other plans for us.

On May 14th, I woke up with a pit in my stomach. Something was wrong. Calvin wasn't moving. My husband couldn't get a word out of me on the way to our specialist. I was bracing myself for the worst, but a strong heartbeat appeared on the monitor! I felt a wave of relief, but it was short lived. Our specialist came in instantly with a simple "Okay, you're done! How fast can you get to the hospital in Austin?" Not even twenty four hours later I was laying on the operating table watching a troop of neonatal super heroes resuscitate my son.

Calvin was born on May 15th, eight weeks premature, with his small and large intestine and stomach exposed. He inhaled a great deal of meconium and had a heart rate of only 40 bpm. Once they stabilized him, they wheeled this fragile little boy over to me and then took him away.

 Calvin weighed just over three pounds when he was born. In recovery, I couldn't stop shaking so a nurse gave me something to calm my nerves. I remember an on-call surgeon coming in and asking permission to operate. In a haze, I said yes. He returned—in what seemed to be just moments later—and explained that while he was able to get a good deal of his intestines back inside, Calvin was very small and he couldn't close the defect yet. His exposed tummy was hanging above him in a plastic bag so that gravity would slide them back in slowly.

While I was stuck in bed waiting for the okay from the nurses to visit my baby, I was given what every mother in my situation craves—the opportunity to help her baby in a way no surgeon could. I was given a medela pump. I couldn't hold Calvin, I couldn't even see him yet, but I could ensure that he had the nutrition he needed! Within four hours after birth, I had collected over 36 mIs of colostrum! My husband would be walking to the nurse’s station every two hours, each time with a little more milk. I heard the babies crying in the rooms surrounding me. My baby was upstairs hooked to monitors and a ventilator, but what I had was a pump and gosh darn it, I was on a mission to establish my milk supply!

My husband wheeled me up to meet our son ten hours after he was born. Through two locked doors in a tiny warming bed, Calvin was recuperating from major surgery. And he was beautiful. When we left the hospital to drive 45 minutes back home, whatever primal hormone your body releases to keep mothers from leaving their young wrecked me. What kept me sane through all of this was my ability to pump. Even something as simple as that fulfilled me in my time of desperation.

Due to his two surgeries and waiting for his gut to wake up, it was a full two weeks on intravenous nutrition before we could introduce some of my milk. Just 2 cc’s at first, but after a few initial setbacks, the volumes increased, the TPN decreased. Calvin's tiny body began to heal. He astounded the neonatologist’s and the nurses for how well he tolerated his feeds. I'll never forget when he was up to two ounce feedings, I tentatively asked when I could breastfeed. The nurse just looked at me and said "Now." I cried I was so happy! Calvin had been a champion taking bottles, but honestly, whose nipple is really shaped like that? The nurse started walking away to find a nipple shield when suddenly Calvin popped himself on perfectly and started nursing away no problem. The staff was astounded yet again.

A few days later, one neonatologist called to tell me that if Calvin didn't gain enough weight on "just my breast milk", he wanted to introduce Neosure, an infant formula. I couldn't believe it. Not only had Calvin gained weight consistently, but due to his prematurity and damage to his bowel, the chance of necrotizing entercolitis, a devastating intestinal infection, was something like 20% higher if they gave him formula! I was seething. 20% didn't use to seem like a high percentage to me, but since my baby son was born with a defect with a 0.02% likelihood, that seems huge now.

Thankfully my mother has her lactation world "connections". Kim at the Mother's Milk Bank was an absolute godsend! I went there with my mother and, as a favor, was able to have my milk tested. It was 21 calories with a high protein count! Kim sent a copy to the head of the NICU.

After 35 days in the NICU, before he should have even been born, Calvin left the NICU without a drop of formula, and with a special hand crafted belly button. Leaving my baby alone in that hospital every day was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through, but these babies are so strong and have such a will to live—it is truly amazing.

Calvin is such a fighter, and I'm honored to be his Mommy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Miracle Child


 A son was to be born in July of 2011, and his parents were thrilled. Excitement, nervousness, and pride were frequent emotions, but then expectations were destroyed. Baby Mauricio was born 12 weeks early. At just a bit more than two and a half pounds, he would spend the next nine months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) fighting for his life. His mom, supported by NICU lactation consultants, successfully developed a small amount of breast milk – enough to initially feed her precious son until he became too ill to take her milk.

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a medical condition primarily seen in premature infants where portions of the intestines undergo tissue death. The risk of NEC is significantly reduced when human milk feedings are provided to an infant, especially a preterm infant. Sometimes, however, a preterm infant who is receiving breast milk still develops NEC. When NEC occurs, the portion of damaged intestines must be removed. Subsequent feeding difficulties related to the shortened intestinal system mean that infants who survive NEC fight both long-term and short-term complications.
What else weighs 2.5 pounds? Eight sticks of butter.

Mauricio required five abdominal surgeries during his stay in the NICU. He was fortunate to have his own mom’s breast milk for his initial weeks in the NICU, but stress works negatively on milk supply, and eventually, the stress of his medical complications affected his mom’s supply. Donor human milk was available to supplement his feedings, and eventually be the only milk that he received. The effects of NEC couldn’t be undone, but healing was promoted through continued feedings of human milk.

Short Gut Syndrome and feeding intolerances were outcomes of this little boy’s NEC, but his parents didn’t let those things destroy their faith or hopes that he would one day be home and healthy. His neonatologist credited the availability of donor milk with shortening the length of stay and providing Mauricio with optimum intestinal recovery.

Receiving donor milk while home furthered his recovery and growth, and Mauricio was finally able to transition off of milk onto other feeding substances at fourteen months of age.

Mauricio’s parents are thankful to the milk donors who made it possible to keep Mauricio on human milk feedings until 14 months; and they are grateful to the financial donors whose generous gifts provided more than $10,000 worth of milk to their precious baby.



Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Marathon

Alison Beshur, milk donor to the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin and mom to two boys, spent the 26 days leading up to her youngest son's first birthday in a "pumping marathon" for the milk bank. Read more about her amazing story below, in her own words.
___________________________________________

I have amazing friends.

Dozens of them rushed to help, when I reached out for donations to support a 26-day pumping marathon I recently completed for the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin.
During the pumping marathon, I pumped 532 ounces for the fragile babies. To match, more than 30 family members and friends gave more than $1,600 for the milk bank, and a few more donations are expected. The monetary donations will support the organization’s Charitable Care program, which funds donor milk for premature babies whose families don’t have insurance or can’t afford to pay for the life-saving milk.

I’m still surprised by the generosity of my family members and friends. Knowing I had the support of so many people kept me motivated to pump as much as possible during the 26-day effort.

The idea started when a few of my friends asked me for donations to support runs or bike rides. I thought, ‘I would love to do something like that. With my out-of-shape body, I wouldn’t make it to the finish line...but I can pump.’ The pumping marathon was conceived.

I had plenty of milk stored in the freezer for my son, so for the 26 days leading up to my son’s first birthday, I pumped as much as possible for the milk bank. Nearly each day, I posted my progress on Facebook and Twitter and asked for monetary donations. Some donors sent checks or gave me cash and others went online.

Most surprising to me were donations from former co-workers I haven’t seen in more than five years and college and high school friends I haven’t seen in nearly two decades. One of my friends went a step further and convinced his employer to match his donation.

Sometimes, when I make a donation or volunteer to help an organization, I feel good about my efforts, but I don’t really know the impact.

A few weeks after I completed the pumping marathon, I had a brief conversation with a teacher at my son’s
school. The discussion started with my amazement with the towering height of her son, who was about 10.

Even more shocking, the teacher explained, is how her 6-year-old daughter has grown to reach up to her son’s shoulders. As the teacher showed me a photo on her phone, she told me she still finds it hard to believe her daughter was born at 26 weeks and weighed less than two pounds.

I asked if she breastfed and she said she had difficulty with latching and her body didn’t respond to the pump. But, she said, her daughter was given donor milk while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit of the hospital, and that helped her develop.

Hearing this nearly brought me to tears. I now had a face of someone I personally know to put with the milk donation, and a true understanding of the importance of the work the milk bank does.

There is so much involved in getting donor milk to the babies who need it. There’s the pasteurizing, the deliveries, the screening, the administrative stuff, etc. Knowing I was briefly a part of that life-saving effort is a memory I will cherish and take pride in for the rest of my life.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Giggles and Squeals at Work!

At 10 weeks old, baby Eva was smiling and starting to coo and interact with me, my precious second, and last, daughter. I was getting into a routine, feeling more confident, having so much fun being home with this endlessly happy child.

But it was time.

I was heading back to work after what seemed like the blink of an eye since I had given birth to her. I got dressed and packed up the car that morning, preparing to ease back into my work life—folding up the pajama pants, my daily uniform, and dusting off the heels. But as I loaded Eva up into the car, I wasn’t filled with the same anxiety and dread as I had been just three short years earlier when I had done the same with my older daughter, Olivia. Eva and I left the house together that morning, but instead of going through all of the emotions of dropping her off in someone else’s care for the first time, we kept driving. Together.

With my office equipped with a pack n play and a swing, and doting co-workers stopping in for visits, Eva spent the next 3 ½ months as an honorary “Milk Bank Employee”. She did it all, our little mascot—fell asleep in meetings, gave special input on event plans, spit up on my work clothes, chimed in on phone calls, and tiny fingers on the keyboard helped with grant writing and newsletters. If you were a Seinfeld fan you would know that George Costanza would be so proud of baby Eva's ability to sleep on the job! She was a fabulous sidekick, and did actually allow me to get my work done—pausing for breaks to breastfeed or change a diaper. Most importantly, we were together and continuing to build our bond and solidify our breastfeeding success.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin is a family-friendly organization, and for that I feel incredibly fortunate. It was proven on my very first day of employment when Olivia (less than a year old) spiked a very high fever at child care. Mortified to leave early on my first day, but worried about my sick little girl, I was met with total understanding as I dashed out…early…on the first day...ugh. It was proven again as I had overwhelming support throughout my pregnancy, topped off with my incredible maternity plan—the cherry on top being “employee may bring child to work until 6 months of age”.

Knowing intimately the importance and benefits of breastfeeding, I think it’s a no-brainer that the Mothers’ Milk Bank would want to do everything it can to encourage and support a successful breastfeeding relationship between a mother and child—and their generous Mother-Friendly plan did just that. Being allowed reasonable time and a clean, practical place to pump is great, but a positive and supportive environment can be just the thing a tired, working mom needs to keep reaching her small breastfeeding goals along the way.

Eva's last day
6 months also came and went in the blink of an eye, as everything seems to with children. I miss her being here, but I know that she was ready to be someplace where she can safely play all day. So, retirement came at an early age for Eva, but she is still contributing as a “donor baby” by sharing her milk with other babies who need it to survive and thrive—something I want both of my girls to be very proud that they were a part of when they are old enough to understand.

For now, I’m just endlessly grateful for the extra time I had with my baby, thanks to MMBA.

Whitney Musitano, Development Director
Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Grateful Mom.



The following blog post was submitted by the mother of a former donor human milk recipient. Her story demonstrates the heart-wrenching experiences of families with fragile babies, and the critical importance of non-profit milk banking in supplying safe donor milk. Links have been created to explain some of the more medical terminology – explore as you would.

Hunter was born July 6, 2011 with jejunal atresia.  A previous ultrasound at 34 weeks gestation, detected the obstruction as well as meconium in the fluid.  My obstetrician reassured me that it was treatable; it just meant that he would need to have surgery and would spend a little time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

I went into labor on July 5, 2011 at 11:00pm.  I was so elated to finally be having him and getting him the help he needed. The delivery was a lot more stressful than I could have ever imagined. His shoulders got stuck, resulting in a broken clavicle. The worst was yet to come.  He got stuck again at his abdomen.  I will never forget the look on my OB’s face as he started to panic and urge for me to push harder.

Hunter came into the world grey, swollen, limp and makingno sound.  My immediate thought was that I was too late.  The NICU nurses worked quickly to suction his lungs and when he finally cried, it was so faint.  Apparently, his intestines had torn at the obstruction site and he bled internally while in utero.  His belly was so distended that he looked pregnant.  He was immediately rushed out of the delivery room and into the operating room.   

The surgeon explained that it was the worst bowel obstruction he had ever seen and he has been practicing since the 1970’s.  He lost a lot of blood during the surgery and was still losing.  He ended up going into cardiac arrest but by the grace of God, was able to be saved.  The doctors didn’t give us much hope, he was still losing blood and they couldn’t find the source.  Hunter ended up losing one third of his small intestine, including his ileocecal valve resulting in Short Bowel Syndrome.

He stayed in a medically induced coma for almost 3 weeks, in which time his total blood volume had been replaced.  He was on several rounds of antibiotics to clear up the infections.  He was being fed through a central line and was eventually able to be fed breastmilk through an nasogastric (NG) tube. It wasn’t until he was almost 5 weeks old that I was finally able to hold him.  It was the best day of my life!

I was adamant about breastfeeding him, but since I couldn’t actually hold him to nurse, I opted for pumping.  He quickly developed Dumping Syndrome, which was devastating to him.  The breastmilk was fed through the NG tube, only to go straight into his ostomy bag. He had absolutely no time to absorb any nutrients.  We hoped that once he was resected, that the “Dumping Syndrome” would be resolved, but until then, the hospital gastroenterologist made the decision to put him on formula because it was more broken down.  That was the worst decision he could have made. I continued to pump hoping he would be able to have my milk.  I pumped for 2 months until I had nowhere else to store my milk. His freezer box at the NICU was full and both of my freezers at home were full.  I was so devastated!

Over the next 4 months, Hunter struggled to grow, absorb and live.  The NICU had done everything they could for him and encouraged us to seek more specialized treatment.  We made the decision to transfer him to another hospital out of state, in hopes for more specialized shortgut treatment.   The specialty hospital immediately put him back on total parenteral nutrition and Lipids, and donor breastmilk. I was a little freaked out by it, but was assured it was pasteurized and what he needed to thrive. The neonatologist explained about a recent study with breastmilk and shortgut babies.  The breastmilk was shown to help the intestines grow better and faster.

It didn’t take long before we saw a huge improvement in his overall health.  I tried desperately to restore my milk supply, but was unable to.  Thankfully, the original NICU in Louisiana was so kind enough to ship all my frozen breastmilk to Texas so he could use up what I had.  Once that was gone, he resumed the donor breastmilk.  Hunter was finally able to go home on December 9, 2011.  We still had a long road ahead, but he was stable enough to be home!
 
We had strict orders on the amount of milk he was to be given.  He started off at only .5 oz every 2-3 hours, which gradually increased to 4oz in a matter of months!  I know that without the donor breastmilk, Hunter would have died.  His little tummy couldn’t handle the formula and I was unable to provide my own milk for him.   

Today, Hunter is a very happy 20 month old! It’s still a bumpy road, but we’re seeing great progress. He has a g-tube now and is on continuous feeds for 20 hours a day. I just can’t thank you enough for donating your breastmilk! You gave my son a chance at life and for that I’m eternally grateful!