There’s no question breastmilk it is the best source of nutrition for newborn babies, when it’s available. Making it available can be the challenge. In the hours and days after giving birth, moms are under a lot of pressure to succeed in breastfeeding and it can be a daunting task – from not producing enough milk at first to troubles latching on to feelings of failure, fear and frustration.
One way to help moms and babies get a good start is to help provide breastfeeding support in hospital after birth. Lactation consultants and counselling are available in most cases, but accessing breastmilk to supplement mom’s milk has been a challenge, until now.
The Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital in Moose Jaw is proud to announce a pasteurized Donor Human Milk (pDHM) program to support newborn breastfeeding. The pDHM program provides safe, nutritious breastmilk for babies as a supplement to mom’s milk while in hospital.
Brenda Nicholls, (right) a nurse at the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital, extends appreciation to Dr. Joanne Fynn and Dr. Brad Thorpe, representing members of the Regional Medical Association, that supplied a freezer to store pDHM.
“As a family doctor, and mom of three, I am so excited for pDHM to be available at our hospital,” said Dr. Joanne Fynn, a family physician at Alliance Health Clinic in Moose Jaw. “Having pDHM available helps us to support families needing to supplement their babies, in achieving their breastfeeding goals. It gives newborns the best start possible when mom’s own milk is not available, while in hospital, and we’re giving mom and baby their best chance to continue to breastfeed exclusively once they go home.”
Breastmilk is normal
According to the Canadian Paediatric Society, breastmilk is universally accepted as the optimal source of nutrition for babies in the first six months of life and should remain part of a healthy infant diet for the first two years, and beyond
“Simply put, breast feeding is normal,” said Dr. Fynn. “It is baby’s first and daily immunization against infections, it is warm and available, it is easy to digest, it is environmentally friendly and it is the only food baby needs in the first six months. It’s also very important that it’s free.”
Having a free source of nutrition for baby is one of the most empowering things for parents, according to Dr. Fynn, especially those who might feel financial and societal strain to supplement baby with commercial formula.
“The challenge is being able to exclusively breastfeed,” she added. “Many mothers face barriers that limit or prohibit their ability to breastfeed their baby – challenges with getting a good latch and establishing breastfeeding in the first few weeks, and then continued challenges, whether in the workplace, in public spaces or through lack of support in their home or community. ”
What is pDHM and where does it come from?
In January 2018, the Yorkton Regional Health Centre began offering pDHM for newborn babies needing supplementation. Before that, the NICUs in Regina and Saskatoon offered pDHM to babies as early as 2013. The pDHM programs for newborn babies utilize mothers milk from approved donors that has undergone a pasteurization process (heat treatment) to make it safe for all babies, while maintaining many of the protective and beneficial factors in the human, making it the next best choice to a mom’s own breast milk.
For the safety of all babies, the Canadian Pediatric Society and Health Canada recommend that pDHM only be purchased through a milk bank that is accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. The Saskatchewan Health Authority currently purchases milk from NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank in Calgary, Alberta. This is the nearest accredited source for pDHM.
For more information contact your local Public Health Office. Public Health offers free breastfeeding and prenatal classes for the public and can connect breastfeeding mothers with Lactation consultation where available. Learn more about NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank at