Bridging the gap: Standardising the logistic pathway of human milk in the NICU

Medela understands the difficulties of providing human milk in the NICU: by the time milk is ready to be fed to the infant, it has gone through a series of procedures and processes that may jeopardise its quantity and quality. This means that providing human milk in a form that is closest to freshly expressed human milk represents a significant logistical challenge.

When infants are unable to breastfeed, the NICU must ensure that logistical processes are in place to

  • provide sufficient human milk
  • of the highest possible quality
  • with the goal of achieving breastfeeding at discharge

Careful attention is required to ensure that hygienic practices, as well as logging, labelling and correct storing procedures are followed by everyone who is handling the milk. To support family involvement, it is important that also parents receive education about the hospital’s procedures and guidelines so that they can follow them whenever they are handling milk in the hospital or at home. The following graphic describes the complex steps of the human milk pathway. Milk may be exposed to a range of temperatures, stored for different durations and fed according to various nutritional requirements. It is clear that logistical management of human milk is required and, where possible, procedures should be standardised.