A few weeks back, I was given the opportunity to meet the employees and tour the Mother’s Milk Bank at the Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital. I have always heard about milk banks and was intrigued, but I didn’t know too much about them.
I learned a lot about both the donor and recipient sides of the bank.
This milk bank and milk banks all over are always looking for donors. This is such a special gift that you are able to provide newborns! I wish I would have taken advantage of being able to donate earlier because they only accept a woman’s milk for 1 year due to the changes in composition after that.
The Process of Donating
If you are in good health, don’t smoke and aren’t taking medications on a regular basis, you are likely to be able to donate.
Trained lactation consultants will discuss the process with you and further screen you to determine if you’re a good fit.
If you are, you will then be asked to do a more comprehensive screening about your medical history and then take a blood test at no cost to you.
You then sign the consent form and you are ready to go!
The milk bank will provide you with containers for your milk and make arrangements to pick it up from you (or you can drop it off at one of the several depots).
One ounce of human milk can feed an infant in neonatal intensive care for a full day!
What Happens To Your Milk?
Once the milk bank receives your milk, it is stored in large freezers before it is pooled together into large flasks, then poured into sanitized glass bottles.
The bottles are pasteurized for 30 minutes to kill bacteria and other microbes without altering the nutritional value and benefits of breastmilk.
Next, the bottles are cooled, labeled and placed in freezers before a small sample of the milk is analyzed to assess fats, proteins and lactose. A sample from each batch is sent to the lab to be tested for any bacterial growth.
Then the milk is sent coast to coast to babies in hospitals and homes.
Babies in hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) depend on the life-saving properties of women’s breastmilk to thrive when their own mother’s milk is not available.
Donor milk is used by preemies who cannot tolerate formula, have a weakened immune system, or have special dietary needs. Donor milk reduces digestive tract infections by 79% and many other infections as well. One ounce of your milk can feed a micro preemie for an entire day — literally saving his or her life.
The milk bank has milk that is colostrum, high fat content, low fat content, no fat content and dairy free for individual needs.
A lot of people are afraid to use other women’s breastmilk, but I assure you it is safe and held to high standards. We need to change our perspective – Would we rather use a cow’s milk than another woman’s?
Benefits of Breastmilk
- Decreased risk of a wide range of illnesses and infections beyond infancy
The milk bank shared one particular touching case study with me in which the newborn was sent home on hospice care due to CHARGE Syndrome. His mother was adamant about nourishing him with breastmilk (both hers and some from the milk bank). He miraculously kept living and doing slightly better, so they admitted him back to the hospital to undergo several surgeries and therapies. He received breastmilk the entire time and is now two years old!
Mother’s Milk Bank of Colorado
When I was talking to the lactation consultant in the office, she said her favorite part of her job is seeing how much the donors get out of donating their milk. The recipients get a quantifiable gift from the program, but every day she sees how happy the donors are that they get to provide this precious gift.
If you are interested in more information on donating milk, please contact Laraine Lockhart-Borman at 303-839-7692 or visit their website.
This milk bank provides service far beyond Colorado including Oregon, Missouri, Utah, Florida and Alaska.
I want to personally thank the Mothers’ Milk Bank for sharing their passion with me. It was educational and inspiring!
Please help spread the word about human milk banking.