Ukraine’s First Breast Milk Bank Opens in Kyiv
A first for Ukraine - a Breast Milk Bank has begun operation at the Perinatal Center in Kyiv. Pediatricians agree that breast milk provides optimal nutrition for babies. The Breast Milk bank creates an alternative to baby formula for premature infants, whose mothers are unable to provide enough of their own milk
“I read that breastfeeding increases the chance of survival for premature babies born underweight – by eight times. This is such an amazing figure to me! If it helps at least one child, it is worth doing,” Tryhubyshy said.
Collected nutrition enters the breast milk bank, the first and so far only one in Ukraine. It is housed in the Kyiv perinatal center. Here, donors are tested for infectious and viral diseases. Breast milk is also tested. Then, it is pasteurized and frozen. To do this, the bank was equipped with all the necessary equipment.
“This pasteurization method allows us to kill the maximum amount of pathogenic bacteria and even viruses. At the same time, we can preserve its valuable qualities as much as possible in these conditions,” Obstetrician-Gynecologist and Lactation Consultant Iryna Lazo said.
“We still eat with the help of a feeding tube. I think, soon we will learn how to do it ourselves, and become quite grown-up,” Olha Velykdan, a mother of triplets said.
Tymofiy, Mark, and Polina are Velykdan’s triplets. They were born two months ahead of time. While Velykdan does not have enough milk to feed them, she uses the donor bank.
“Donated milk helps me because now I can feed them with my breast milk, and at the same time, with donated milk. I am very grateful to the breast milk bank because I would not be able to cope without it. I would have to feed my babies with infant formula,” she said.
Many pediatricians say that no infant milk formula can fully replace all of the qualities of breast milk. Premature babies have underdeveloped digestive systems. Therefore, they lack the necessary enzymes to digest other foods.
“Donated milk could improve the immune status and children’s growth factors. It also contains enzymes that contribute to milk digestion. Even the most adapted mixtures don’t contain them,” Pediatrician-Neonatologist at the Neonatal Ward for Premature Infants Inessa Sydorenko said.
The Kyiv city budget spent $334,000 to provide the breast milk bank with all the necessary equipment, as well as to make repairs. Pediatricians and specialists in breastfeeding were trained in Poland. Today in Europe, there are 226 breast milk banks.