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Win-win in the human milk bank

What do you do when you are a breastfeeding mother from Oslo, travelling on a work trip to India without your breast pump? This was the question our colleague from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to ask herself as she recently travelled to New Delhi.

It is a fact known to many working mothers that travelling away from their baby while they are still breastfeeding can be a challenge. Expressing milk with a breast pump is the way to solve this. When using the pump, production of breast milk is maintained and the breast pain associated with not having nursed for a while is alleviated. The way to go on the go is to pump. However, that requires you to bring your pump, including all its little parts and devices. This was the issue for our colleague travelling from Oslo to attend meetings with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Delhi a few weeks back. She had forgotten a part for the breast pump.

What to do? One could buy a new breast pump. They are readily available in pharmacies all over Delhi. However, our colleague had a much better idea, namely to express and donate milk at the National Human Milk Bank and Lactation Counselling Centre Lady Hardinge Medical College. The human milk bank was established in collaboration with the Oslo University Hospital, the Norway India Partnership Initiative (NIPI) and Fredskorpset (FK Norway).

“Vatsalya – Maatri Amrit Kosh” is a national human milk bank and lactation counselling centre that is collecting, pasteurizing, testing and safely storing milk that has been donated by lactating mothers, so that it is available for infants in need. In addition, this facility promotes and supports general breastfeeding by providing lactation support to women who have just given birth. The mothers visiting the centre receive guidance and help from the competent staff on the best positions for breastfeeding how often to feed their baby.

After a few initial phone calls, the appointment was set up, and our colleague headed to Lady Hardinge Medical College. There she was met by the Manager of the milk bank, and the post Chief Lactation counsellor. Our colleague, who in addition to being a diplomat, is a medical doctor by training, had a great experience at the milk bank where she was assisted by the friendly and competent counsellors and doctors. The milk was expressed in in a clean and comfortable room using sterile equipment and the paperwork filled out before the milk was taken to the milk kitchen for further procedures and pasteurization. Our colleague walked out of the milk bank eased of her pain knowing that the milk she expressed can be given to infants in need.

This was indeed a win-win on a new level for the Norway India Partnership.