Human milk is the best nutrition for all babies, including preterm babies. Studies showing strong clinical benefits and recommendations by many health organizations have prompted a growing number of hospitals to provide pasteurized donor human milk for premature infants when mother’s own milk is not available. As highlighted in a previous blog, Overlake is among those hospitals.
What is a milk depot?
A milk depot is a controlled collection point where healthy, lactating women can donate their surplus breast milk for premature babies. The milk collection, shipping, processing and distribution are overseen, with strict guidelines, by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, an organization consisting of many banks and collection depots. Our depot will have a partnership with the Mother’s Milk Bank of Colorado who will provide necessary screening and blood testing at no cost to donating moms.
How does the process work?
Moms who have been screened and accepted as prospective donors can come to Overlake Women’s Clinic to drop off their frozen breast milk and have blood work done at our outpatient lab. The milk is temporarily stored in a deep freezer and soon shipped to Mother’s Milk Bank of Colorado for processing along with blood samples. Busy, nursing moms are spared the task of packaging and shipping their donated milk.
What happens after the drop off?
Mother’s Milk Bank of Colorado performs testing on mailed blood samples to assure donors meet criteria (much like testing for blood donation). Milk that is safe for use is then pasteurized, cultured after pasteurization to assure no contamination from processing, and frozen in 2 and 4 oz bottles for shipment to hospital neonatal intensive care units.
Donating breast milk is a true labor of love that can provide life-saving nutrition and immune support to fragile, premature babies. In the US, there is a critical shortage of donor human milk and we hope, by opening Overlake’s depot, to remove some of the barriers from the process and make it more convenient for moms to donate their precious gift. Last year, Overlake’s NICU used over 1000 oz of donor human milk to help critically ill premature babies. Milk banks depend on “drop off” milk depots to meet the growing demand for donor human milk and only milk from a HMBANA milk bank can safely be given to preterm infants in the hospital.
For more information on how you can become a milk donor, call 425-635-6150.