Donated milk helps mum out

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 07:10 22/01/2013
Maddie Power
Scott Hammond

From one to another: Maddie Power, left, with baby Olivia Reeve receives milk from Keri Herd, who is holding her baby, Oakley Herd.

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A Blenheim mother who gave birth to her premature son four months ago is donating her breast milk to another Blenheim mother with a premature daughter.

Keri Herd had to move to Wellington for almost three months because of a complicated pregnancy with four-month-old son Oakley.

After hearing of the difficulties fellow Blenheim couple Maddie Power and James Reeve were having after their third daughter Olivia was born at 28 weeks, Mrs Herd offered them some hard-to-come-by premature baby clothes via Facebook.

Olivia, whose due date was yesterday, is now three months old and weighs 2.240 kilograms. She was delivered by caesarean in Wellington Hospital after it was discovered she was breech.

While Ms Power still breast-feeds her daughter, there will come a time when she does not have enough milk to give her, she said.

"Since she was three months early, my body wasn't even ready for a baby," Ms Power said. "There's so much pressure to breast-feed, it's crazy when you can't do it."

Both women admit they would never have considered sharing breast milk before they had babies that were born premature.

"I guess it's one of those taboo things," Mrs Herd said.

"Before NICU (Wellington Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) I would never have given my milk away, but having seen what goes on, the struggle, it's one little thing you can do to help."

Breast milk is said to be the best form of nourishment for sick and premature babies for a number of reasons, including building a healthy immune system. It also contains infection-fighting proteins.

Mrs Herd dropped around the first batch of five bottles of expressed milk to Ms Power yesterday. She plans on donating her milk until she stops breast-feeding Oakley in about a year's time.

She is also hoping to start a coffee group, and eventually set up a trust, for families with premature babies after seeing at least four couples from Blenheim at the neonatal unit in Wellington Hospital.

The cost of flights back and forth to Wellington added up.

Mothers of premature babies also lacked the preparation mothers with full-term babies had.

Ms Power was grateful for all the support she has had from people offering to help her family.

She would like more mothers to know that they could choose to use donated milk.

"I think people need to know the option is there and to not think it's weird," she said.

"It's natural. It's what babies are meant to have."

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- The Marlborough Express

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