A new service called Mom's Milk on the Move (MoM) — aimed at helping poor mothers feed their premature babies — was launched at Groote Schuur Hospital on Thursday.

The launch was held in conjunction with World Prematurity Day, which marks a global movement to raise awareness of preterm birth and the health concerns of preterm babies that was celebrated on Friday.

The free transport service will help mothers get breast milk to their premature babies in hospital after they have been discharged, leaving their fragile babies in incubators and in the care of the nurses at Groote Schuur. The mothers can take their expressed breast milk to the Hanover Park, Mitchell's Plain and Gugulethu clinics, from where it will be transported to Groote Schuur.

Groote Schuur is the first hospital in the country to establish this kind of service. It is a collaboration between the Newborns Trust based at the hospital, the provincial health department, Scully Scooters, the Relate Trust and Consol Glass.

According to Amy Mac Iver of the Newborns Trust, mothers from disadvantaged backgrounds cannot afford to return to the hospital on a daily basis to breastfeed their babies, so this project will help them.

She says the idea came after the trust studied the reasons for complications and deaths of babies born prematurely. They found that some of these babies die due to insufficient nutrition.

"One in seven babies is born premature and 60% of those born weighing less than lkg do not survive, mostly due to a lack of resources," says Mac Iver.

It has been found that premature babies thrive better on breast milk.

"Mothers are often discharged from hospital and have no way to return daily to feed or visit their babies who remain there for up to two months. As a result, breast milk supplies are diminished, and babies do not receive the nutrients required to build their immune systems and fight off illness.

"The MoM initiative aims to change that. Through this project, mothers' milk will be delivered to babies at Groote Schuur Hospital from all benefiting clinics," she says.

She says new mothers will be taught about expressing and storing breast milk.

Neil Robinson, CEO of the Relate Trust, says they, together with Scully, are proud to be part of the project by sponsoring a scooter that will be used to transport the breast milk.

He says the scooter they have sponsored has a small refrigerator that will carry a few bottles of milk at a time from the various clinics to the hospital.

He says the partnership between his trust and the provincial department is a part of their mission which aims to find ways to change the lives of the less fortunate from the townships of Cape Town.

His trust raise funds for various charities and together with Scully they raised about R100 000 for this project.


This article was first published by People's Post (Retreat) on 21 November, click here for original article.