Overlake Mother’s Milk Depot
The Women’s Clinic at Overlake Medical Center opened a Mother’s Milk Depot, where moms can donate their breast milk to infants in need. Studies showing strong clinical benefits and recommendations from multiple health organizations have prompted a growing number of hospitals, including Overlake, to provide donated, pasteurized human milk for premature infants when their own mother’s milk is not available.
Last year, Overlake Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit used more than 1,000 ounces of donated human milk to help critically-ill premature babies.
- 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 by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), an organization consisting of many banks and collection depots throughout the United States and Canada. The Overlake Mother’s Milk Depot will partner with the Mother’s Milk Bank of Colorado, which will provide the necessary screening and blood testing at no cost to donating moms.
- Why is donated breast milk important? – Donated breast milk provides life-saving nutrition and immune support to fragile, premature babies. In the United States, there is a critical shortage of donated human milk. According to the HMBANA, there are 60,000 low birth weight infants (weighing 3.5 pounds or less) born every year who need donated breast milk for life-saving nutrition.
- Why is human breast milk important to pre-term infants? – According to the American Academy of Pediatrics: “The benefits of feeding human milk to preterm infants are realized not only in the NICU but also in the fewer hospital readmissions for illness in the three years after hospital discharge. The potent benefits of human milk are such that all preterm infants should receive human milk. Milk from the infant’s own mother, fresh or previously frozen, should be the primary diet, and it should be fortified appropriately for the infant born weighing less than 1.5 kg. If the mother’s milk is unavailable despite significant lactation support, pasteurized donor milk should be used.”
- 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 blood work to be tested at our outpatient lab. The milk is temporarily stored in a deep freeze state before being shipped to Mother’s Milk Bank Colorado for processing along with blood samples. By providing this service, Overlake spares busy, nursing moms 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 and cultured to assure there is no contamination from processing. The milk is then frozen in 2 and 4 ounce bottles for shipment to hospital neonatal intensive care units.
- Why should moms donate? – Donating breast milk can provide life-saving nutrition and immune support for fragile, premature babies. In the US, there is a critical shortage of donated human milk. By opening its own milk depot, Overlake make it more convenient for moms to donate. Milk banks depend on “drop-off” milk depots to meet the growing demand for donor human milk. Only milk from a HMBANA milk bank can safely be given to preterm infants in the hospital.
For more information on how to become a milk donor, call 425-635-6150.