When Lindsay McIvor’s son Maverick was born, he was three months early and weighed just two pounds, six ounces. While he proved to be a fighter, during the first weeks of his life he needed not only the advanced life-saving care of the Newborn ICU, he needed the help of mothers who didn’t even know him.
“Considering he was so small, and arrived so early, he was doing really well,” recalls Lindsay. “But on his ninth day, he ended up getting an infection, and was put onto full breathing support for the next four weeks.”
Lindsay knew that her breast milk was the nutrition Maverick needed to heal, but, as is common for moms who have premature babies, her milk was coming in slowly.
A nurse told Lindsay about BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank. It screens breast milk donors and collects and pasteurizes donated milk for distribution to babies in need.
When Lindsay started pumping, it wasn’t enough for a feed, so she topped it up with donor milk. “It was awesome,” she says of having access to donor milk. “It was such a stressful situation and having the Milk Bank was so helpful.”
“For premature infants you can’t really replace human milk with anything else, because they’re so high risk,” says Milk Bank coordinator Frances Jones. “That’s where donor milk comes in. It provides them with the antibodies needed to fight disease and infection.”
Donor milk will soon be available to all 13 NICUs in the province, thanks to provincial and charitable funding. “But the need for milk continues, and we are always looking for new donors,” says Jones.
Lindsay was so grateful for the donor milk she received that later she, in turn, donated about five litres of her own milk to other moms in need.
Maverick went home 75 days after his birth. He continues to thrive.