Unique resource at Children’s Hospital is helping mothers, babies in NICU

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MILWAUKEE -- There are only about a dozen of these facilities in the country -- and now Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has one. It' called a 'Milk Kitchen'. It serves babies in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit.

Lincoln Ureña

Lincoln Ureña

Lincoln was born two months premature. He's been living in the Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children's Hospital ever since.

"He still gets mama's breast milk, that was a big concern for me, " said Lincoln's father, Abraham Ureña.

"All I have to do is pump and bring it in," said Lincoln's mother, Missy Ureña.

The Milk Kitchen manages all the milk-fed babies in the NICU in a safe, hygienic way. Parents drop off the milk, milk techs scan it, inventory it, then store it in freezers until it's needed.

"We are also safely identifying that each baby gets its mother's milk and when the baby goes home, that milk goes home with them," said Children's Hospital Lactation Consultant Barbara Hayes-Dineen.

The milk preparation room is a very important space. It is where the milk techs bring the milk, thaw it out, then fortify and prepare it for the feedings. That is why it has to stay sealed and sanitized.

Milk Kitchen at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

Milk Kitchen at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin

"We are treating their breast milk almost like a medication, it is that important for their baby," said Hayes-Dineen.

Putting the Ureñas at ease, their premature baby is safe.

"People who don't experience it don't understand how hard it is and have it be such a positive experience, and know he's coming home. He's got the best babysitters in the world," said Lincoln's mother, Missy Ureña.

The Milk Kitchen at Children's Hospital has been open for one month. It's important to note, it is NOT a breast milk bank and it does not accept breast milk donations. Children's Hospital can refer mothers who would like to donate their breast milk to a breast milk bank.