When Vicki Venables was pregnant with her second child, alarm bells rang during a routine prenatal visit with her family doctor. The doctor was unable to hear a heartbeat even though Vicki felt a lot of movement inside.
An ultrasound was ordered, revealing that the baby had a large cyst on the abdomen and it was later discovered that the baby was around 30-31 weeks gestation. With a high risk for a premature labour, Vicki was then flown to Vancouver from Kamloops to be admitted to Grace Hospital, what we now know as BC Women’s Hospital.
After ten days of prescribed bed rest, Vicki had to be rushed in to give birth via emergency C-section. The Venables welcomed a tiny baby girl on January 13, 1985. Dallas was born at 32 weeks gestation and spent nearly four months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). It was a harrowing experience, and while Dallas was in the NICU, Vicki was instructed to pump or hand express and store her milk as they waited for Dallas to stabilize and get stronger. Human milk has been shown to be the optimal source of nutrition for babies, especially premature babies by building up their antibodies to prevent life-threatening infections.
Having spent time in the NICU and witnessing first-hand, vulnerable babies fighting for their lives and mothers struggling with their own milk supply inspired Vicki to do something to help. As Vicki was pumping milk for little Dallas, she found that she had more than enough supply to help other families who were struggling through similar experiences. It was a small gesture that meant the world to the families who were going through a tough time feeling helpless as their babies battled for each day.
Vicki continued to pump milk and donated her surplus supply of milk throughout the four-month period at Grace despite the stressful situation of seeing Dallas go through surgery to remove the cyst on her abdomen.
Dallas is now a proud mother of one daughter and two boys who remembers her mom sharing her experience with her as she was growing up. Vicki proudly recalls how she helped feed an entire NICU full of babies by donating her breast milk.
“The feeling you get from giving to a community in this capacity is invaluable,” said Vicki. “I’m so grateful that I was able to help.”
This sentiment has stuck with Dallas, who is also a BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank donor.
“Human milk literally saves lives, giving a new life a chance to flourish and grow as part of a healthier society for generations to come,” said Dallas. “I know it can be time consuming with a newborn and possibly other children as well, but setting aside five to ten minutes in my day to help grow and nourish an innocent vulnerable human seems priceless to me.”
Dallas plans on doing her best to educate and carry the tradition forward with her children as her mother did for her. A champion for human milk donation, Dallas, has already helped her friends get registered advocating its importance. Often joking about how her and her mom are able to supply an entire nursery with the amount of milk they were both lucky enough to have.
As part of National Breastfeeding Week, we would like to remind all moms who have extra milk to make a difference by donating to BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank