While our son was in the hospital I would pump every 3 hours so that the nurses could give him my milk through a feeding tube. I always had low milk supply and was always taking tips on how to increase my milk.
Another preemie mom used to pump and literally get 8 ounces per side, every four hours. She was a machine!! I was jealous. She had more milk than her baby could ever drink. What would they do with the leftovers?
Could she not donate it to other preemies who had moms that were not able to breastfeed? No, our hospital would never give a baby someone else’s milk. The doctors had no way of knowing the mom’s general nutrition. Smoker, Drinker, Illegal drugs in her system? They just didn’t allow it.
Today I was reading a blog online where the blogger was thanking many different breast milk donors for sending milk for her baby, a preemie. They were fed-exing the EBM (expressed breast milk) to her from different parts of the U.S. What amazing women.
In the U.S. there are 6 “Milk Banks”, 1 in Canada (B.C.) who belong to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.. A donor milk bank is a service established for the purpose of collecting, screening, processing, and distributing donated human milk to meet specific medical needs of individuals for whom it is prescribed.
They do Blood testing to screen moms for German measles, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, HIV 1 & 2, and HTLV.
Some criteria for being able to donate are:
- You are a healthy woman whose child is less than 1 year of age and you don’t drink alcohol, smoke, use over the counter medications or prescriptions, herbal or illegal drugs or vitamin supplements in excess of 100% of the RDA. A few medications are acceptable, including a multi-vitamin, low-dose progestin, birth control pills, insulin, and thyroid replacement.
- You have enough breast milk for your baby and extra. The amount of breast milk produced is dependent on demand so if you start pumping extra milk to donate, your body will respond by producing more breast milk.
- Your baby is premature and you are pumping to keep up your milk supply until your baby comes home from the hospital. If your baby will not need all of the milk you have stored once he or she is fully breast feeding.
- You are pumping your milk anyway for times that you are away from your baby. You are employed outside your home and pump breast milk at work to feed your baby at day care or later at home. It’s hard to judge just how much your baby will drink and you find you have excess breast milk stored.
The milk will be pasteurized by the milk bank so that viruses are killed, but almost all of the passive immunity in breast milk will remain.
With the number of preemies that are born in Ontario, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a bank here. I am sure there are many moms that would do the screening so that they could help out a child in need.