Jan 18 2016

The Story Behind The Story: What Lead Anita Esquerra-Zwiers To Publish Her Significant New Academic Paper?

This month we are thrilled to be presenting Anita Esquerra-Zwiers’ recently published paper, “‘It’s Somebody Else’s Milk’: Unraveling the Tension in Mothers of Preterm Infants Who Provide Consent for Pasteurized Donor Human Milk.”  While the paper is already garnering a great deal of attention, we had the rare opportunity to sit down with Anita and hear how her interaction with the Rush NIH team prompted her to change focus slightly and pursue funded post-doctoral training in the NICU content area as a mechanism to continue her work with Rush. 

Here is a portion of our interview, in Anita’s own words:

My interest in donor human milk began in 2010 after the birth of my second child.  I participated as a human milk donor with a for-profit milk bank and later participated in a private donation. It wasn’t until I started interacting with the  private human milk recipients that I became intrigued that some mothers would go to any length to ensure that their babies receive a human milk only diet. 

In 2013 I had the opportunity to join Dr. Meier’s research team in the early stages of implementing a donor human milk program in the NICU at Rush. This was a change from my initial plan to approach my PhD studies by examining milk sharing in the public sector; now I had the opportunity to explore infants in the NICU with a medical necessity for pasteurized donor human milk. Unlike the mothers I met for private donation, only one mother in Rush’s NICU had any knowledge of donor milk, or the availability of another mother’s milk to feed their infant. A majority of the mothers expressed some hesitation about donor milk, not because they felt it was unsafe for their infant, because they wanted to be the sole provider of human milk for their infant.

This article discusses not only the hesitation that some mothers expressed but also the decision-making process that mothers go through as they make a decision to consent for donor human milk.  The design of this qualitative research study permits mothers to talk about more than just their experiences with donor human milk. Many of the mothers shared various barriers and facilitators to providing their own milk and how these barriers and facilitators fluctuated over time.  

This underlying theme served as the precursor to my dissertation research.  In my dissertation study I have enrolled 10 mothers and plan to follow each of them throughout their infant’s hospitalization to identify key time points and their perceived facilitators and barriers to providing their own milk.

To read the paper: 

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