When I was born, 36 years ago, there weren’t many options as far as newborn feeding methods. You either breastfed or you formula fed. And if you breastfed, there wasn’t much in the way of support (something my mother can attest to). The lactation profession had only just been born itself, therefore lactation consultants weren’t readily available and neither were other feeding options.
A lot has changed in the last 36 years, and thank goodness!
If a new mother is struggling to feed her newborn, she now has a third choice: donor milk. More and more hospitals offer donor milk as an option if breastfeeding is not off to a good start from birth. But even beyond that, mothers can now easily locate a Donation and Outreach Center (DOC) near them and purchase donor milk, to bridge the gap between a low supply and a well-fed babe.
It has been a long process to get to this point. According to the Denver Mother’s Milk Bank, the first milk bank was established in 1910 in Boston, MA. Their website states it was “on a ‘floating hospital’ kept in the harbor to keep the nursing women and infants away from disease.” Fast forward to 1984, when the Mother’s Milk Bank of Denver was established. It wasn’t until 2012 that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended, “If mother’s own milk is unavailable, despite significant lactation support, pasteurized donor milk should be used.” (MMB of Denver)
Now, here we are, 2019, and there are Donation and Outreach Centers across the country! These centers serve as a drop off point for mothers who have an excess of milk and want to donate to moms and babies in need. After milk is donated, the DOC ships it to a milk bank to be pasteurized. It is then safe to be distributed, so that premature and full-term babies alike can have access to human milk- even if their own mothers are struggling to produce. How amazing is that?
As a mother and IBCLC, I am proud to be a part of this wonderful option for families. We opened our Donation and Outreach Center at Milkworks in Lincoln on April 14, 2017. Our Omaha location followed suit soon after on July 16, 2018. Since Milkworks has been a DOC, the two locations combined have helped facilitate the donation of 14,820 ounces of human milk...and counting! I cannot explain the feeling I get when packaging up the hundreds of ounces of milk our local mothers have donated- knowing that it will be going to mothers and babies in need.
If you are interested in becoming a donor, first of all, thank you! It is a selfless act and one that is greatly needed. Please take the time to contact the Mother’s Milk Bank of Denver (information below) on how to get started. The more we can donate, the more babies we can help - check out 2018 stats
“Just one ounce of milk can feed a micro preemie for an entire day” (MMB of Denver).
Mother’s Milk Bank of Denver