Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center Babies Benefit from Donor Breast Milk Program
April 12, 2023
Program gives all babies access to supplementation with donated breast milk, which provides enhanced nutrition and health benefits when compared to infant formula
Multiple studies show that breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for babies and has proven benefits, including providing antibodies that increase protection from illnesses. The most recent research suggests that breastfed children have less risk of suffering from learning difficulties in the future.
To ensure that all babies have access to exclusive feeding with breast milk during their stay at Hackensack Meridian Hackensack University Medical Center, the nursing team has created a unique program that provides supplemental nutrition with human donor milk instead of infant formula.
“The goal of our program is to help new parents maintain exclusive feeding with breast milk, even when their baby needs supplementation,” said Donna Lacorazza, RN, nurse manager of the Mother-Baby Unit at Hackensack University Medical Center which is ranked among the Best Hospitals for Maternity Care for 2022-23 by U.S. News & World Report. “Evidence shows that breast milk is the best form of newborn nutrition, so we decided to implement our program to increase the number of mothers who are exclusively feeding their babies breast milk when they are discharged from the hospital.”
It is the first time a Hackensack Meridian Health hospital provided breast milk to children in need of supplementation, outside of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Nearly 30 families opted to participate in the program during the first month it was offered.
“As an OBGYN, I encourage mothers to breastfeed because breast milk contains the perfect combination of fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins that newborns need,” says Melanie Kaufer, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist and international board certified lactation consultant with Hackensack University Medical Center. Dr. Kaufer, a mother of three, says after the birth of her third child, she was having trouble producing enough milk to feed her newborn son and formula really wasn’t an option for her. “My son needed to spend some time in the neonatal intensive care unit before we could take him home and I was so relieved to find out that the hospital had a donor milk program which we were able to benefit from,” says Dr. Kaufer, who was so grateful that, after she went home and started pumping her own milk, she donated about 100 ounces to the milk bank Hackensack University Medical Center receives their supplies from.
That milk bank carefully screens, preserves, and stores all breast milk donations, in accordance with strict safety guidelines and best practices. Mothers will receive information on the program upon admission to the Labor and Delivery Unit and will be asked to consent to participation.
“This program has been available to babies in our NICU [Neonatal Intensive Care Unit] for years, and it has been so successful that we are expanding it to every infant in our Well-Baby unit,” said Kristen Giordano, RNC-MNN, C-IAP, nurse manager of the High-Risk Antepartum Unit and Lactation Services at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“Although supplementation with donor milk is not as beneficial as putting a baby to the breast, it is a much better option when compared to infant formula in the first few days of life.”
“I am so appreciative of the donor milk my son was able to receive, I wanted to pay it forward,” says Dr. Kaufer, “this program is the next best thing to mother’s own milk.”
Dr. Kaufer’s son with a box of her donated breast milk.