By Martin Lenkowsky
What’s both white and “liquid gold” at the same time?
The answer is breast milk, said Broward Health Coral Springs Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse Kaitlyn Isoba this week.
Isoba, a Cooper City resident, went well above and beyond her usual work duties by donating 450 ounces of breast milk to her hospital’s Milk Bank Depot after giving birth to her baby.
“I had been pumping and had a surplus of milk,” Isoba said, “and I reached out to the Florida Milk Bank. It was easy.”
The local milk bank depot is the first – and only – one in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Donated breast milk collected at milk bank depots is sent to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida, based in Orlando, where they are tested, pasteurized, and bottled for distribution to hospitals around the state.
“They courier it up to the milk bank,” Isoba said, pointing out a nationwide formula shortage last year. “It feels great to help the little NICU babies.”
Broward Health Coral Springs became a Milk Bank Depot in February 2022, and since then, it has received 40,000 ounces of breast milk. August is observed as National Breastfeeding Month.
Isoba said many of the NICU moms intended to breastfeed. However, when their babies need to be placed in NICU, “it puts a kink in their plans,” she said. “Babies in NICU might not be able to latch on.”
Plus, she explained, sometimes new moms might have trouble producing enough milk at first. “Donor milk bridges the gap,” she said.
Isoba said she often talks with moms about what they want and explains to them the various benefits of providing their newborns with human breast milk.
And does she ever wonder if any of her donated milk winds up returning to nourish her tiny patients? She doesn’t know who’s getting her milk, “but some of them might.”
Breast milk is vital in reducing the number of serious chronic illnesses in premature babies. According to Nichole Salisbury, a registered nurse and lactation consultant at Broward Health Coral Springs, one such condition is necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which has a 50 percent mortality rate. “Pre-term babies are at a very high risk,” Salisbury said. “By introducing human milk, it’s good for their recovery.”
Salisbury said women with an extra surplus of milk could become registered donors and drop off their milk at the milk depot.
In keeping with the observance of National Breastfeeding Month, Salisbury and Isoba were on hand last week at Broward Health Coral Springs to answer questions. She said many moms are surprised about the program. “They didn’t realize it’s an option,” she said. “We explained the benefits of breastfeeding.”
Education, Advocation, and Celebration is their goal, Salisbury said. “Pre-natal education is so important,” she said, adding that advocating for moms’ rights to breastfeed at the workplace is an important goal of theirs as well. They advocate for workplace policy changes.
Plus, she reminds all of us to congratulate and celebrate the breastfeeding moms in our lives “for the hard work these women do.”