Midwives should be more aware of the important work carried out by milk banks in feeding babies in intensive care, a charity says.
Educational charity, Midwives Information and Resource Service (MIDIRS), say not many healthcare staff know that milk banks supply babies in neonatal intensive care units and special baby units.
The banks collect expressed milk from "donor" mums who have a plentiful milk supply, pasteurise it, and then feed it to babies whose mothers' milk supply is limited.
MIDIRS says breastmilk is an important "complete food source" that contains all the nutrients a baby needs and disease-fighting compounds that are not found in formula mixtures.
Some babies are allergic to formula milk, and if their mums cannot temporarily supply sufficient milk, they urgently need donations from the milk bank.
MIDIRS Head of Midwifery Vicky Carne said: "This is an important service that midwives and women should be aware of to ensure that new mums are informed of the choices they have fro their child."
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