Breast milk donation after neonatal death in Australia: a report. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Lactation and breast milk can hold great value and meaning for grieving mothers who have experienced a recent death of an infant. Donation to a human milk bank (HMB) as an alternative to discarding breast milk is one means of respecting the value of breast milk. There is little research, national policy discussion, or organizational representation in Australia on the subject of breast milk donation after infant death. On 29 November 2013 the Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne, Australia hosted Australia's first National Stakeholder Meeting (NSM) on the topic of milk donation after neonatal death. The NSM drew together representatives from Australian HMBs, neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) currently using donor human milk, and Australia's chief NICU parent support organization. The NSM was video-recorded and transcribed, and analyzed thematically by researchers. This article reports the seven dominant themes discussed by stakeholders during the NSM: the spectrum of women's lactation and donation experiences after infant death; the roles of the HMB and NICU in meeting the needs of the bereaved donor; how bereaved mothers' lactation autonomy may interface with a HMB's donation guidelines; how milk donation may be discussed with bereaved mothers; the variation between four categories of milk donation after neonatal death; the impact of limited resources and few HMBs on providing donation programs for bereaved mothers in Australia. This article provides evidence from researchers and practitioners that can assist HMB staff in refining their bank's policy on milk donation after infant death, and provides national policy makers with key considerations to support lactation, human milk banking, and bereavement services nation-wide.

authors

  • Carroll, KE
  • Lenne, BS
  • McEgan, K
  • Opie, G
  • Amir, LH
  • Bredemeyer, S
  • Hartmann, B
  • Jones, R
  • Koorts, P
  • McConachy, H
  • Mumford, P
  • Polverino, J

publication date

  • 2014