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Premature Births: Helping Hands Milk Bank Encourages Healthy Lifestyles

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Premature Births—Healthy moms make the world go round—in more ways than one. In support of Prematurity Awareness Month this November, Helping Hands Milk Bank is encouraging pregnant women to establish healthy lifestyles that reduce the risk of premature birth, and to donate excess breast milk to treat those infants who are born prematurely.

Guidelines for Pre-Birth Nutrition

Helping Hands endorses March of Dimes guidelines for pre-birth nutrition and exercise. Here are a few pointers:

Nutrition and Exercise

  • Eat smart. Eat food from all five food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, milk products and proteins) every day.
  • Keep you and baby healthy by getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, such as folic acid.
  • Don’t take “eating for two” too literally. Most women need about 300 extra calories per day during pregnancy. One extra healthy snack will usually suffice.
  • Limit your caffeine intake to 200 milligrams per day.
  • Stay active. For most women, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day is good for mom and baby, but know the warning signs to stop.

Tips for Milk Donation

Nursing mothers can also help preemies through breast milk donation. By following safe preparation and storage tips, the high quality of milk and health of baby is maintained. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests you do the following:

  •  Wash your hands before expressing or handling breast milk.
  • Store breast milk in clean containers, such as screw-cap bottles, hard plastic cups with tight caps, or heavy-duty bags that fit directly into nursery bottles.
  • Label the milk with the date it was expressed —use the oldest milk first.
  • Do not add fresh milk to already frozen milk.
  • Do not save milk from a used bottle for use at another feeding.
  • Do not re-freeze breast milk once it has been thawed.
  • Store milk toward the back of the freezer, where temperature is most constant.

Donations made through Helping Hands are used to make life-saving, human milk-based nutritional products for extremely premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Application Process for Milk Donation

For mothers interested in donating, you are likely to qualify as a donor if the following apply:

  •  You are generally healthy
  • You do not take medication on a regular basis
  • Your baby is doing well
  • You do not smoke
  • Your home freezer reaches the appropriate temperature

By applying these tips and guidelines this month and throughout motherhood, we can continue to make the world go round by reducing the number one killer of babies — prematurity.

Helping Hands Milk Bank is sponsored by Prolacta Bioscience, a for-profit company dedicated to cutting edge research and product development that save the lives of preemies. A recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that Prolacta’s fortifier (Prolact+ H2MF) clinically reduced the odds of developing NEC (a major threat preemies) by 77% in premature infants weighing 500g – 1250g (<2.76lb) at birth. You can learn more about their work at

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Bethany Morgan

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