Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children opened the region’s first and currently only Infant Nutrition Lab in North Alabama. The Lab is an aseptic environment for preparing breast milk for use in the hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and is state-certified.
A team of certified professionals staff the Infant Nutrition Lab. They ensure all the breast milk under their care is fortified for optimal infant nutrition and held at the proper temperature. Currently there are five lactation technicians on staff that prepare milk for about 40 babies each day – it takes over two hours to mix before it is distributed to the babies in the NICU.
“We’re really proud of our new Infant Nutrition Lab,” said NICU Director, Cheryl Case, RN. “Babies will benefit from having their milk fortified an prepared in a controlled, safe and clean environment.”
How the Infant Nutrition Lab Works
Mothers with babies in the Level III NICU are encouraged to bring fresh pumped milk each time they visit. After the milk is labeled, it is taken to the Lab and stored in a sanitized, refrigerated bin used only for that baby.
Every baby in the NICU has a personal nutrition plan developed by a team of neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners and registered dietitians. IFL staff help ensure the plan’s success by preparing exactly the right amount of milk at mealtime, and if needed, fortifying the milk with extra nutrients. Eventually, the Lab hopes to serve up their tasty milk to all the babies at the hospital, but right now it’s just the ones that need it most in the NICU.
It is a little unusual for a facility of this nature to be available at all in a non-profit hospital, especially without the assistance of grants or other funding. The Infant Nutrition Lab is fully made possible by the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund and generous Huntsville Hospital Foundation donors. Huge thanks to everyone who donated to make it possible!
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