Sharing Your Extra Breastmilk – FAQs

Sharing Your Extra Breastmilk – FAQs

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas addresses common questions by moms in our community

Last week’s blog was entitled Milk for Money – Is It Ethical for a Company to Pay Moms for Breastmilk?  Today, we continue the dialogue about this controversial subject and address questions about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) and our philosophy regarding donor milk and partnering with the generous moms in our community.

Hope HeinzIs it okay for me to share my breastmilk with another mom?

At MMBNT, we fully support mothers and the decisions they make about their own breastmilk. Backing nursing mothers in every way is the cornerstone of what we do. At the milk bank, we provide a safety net, ensuring that premature and critically ill infants are protected with pasteurized and tested donor milk. Mothers who choose to donate or receive milk through “peer-to-peer informed sharing” should do their research and understand the potential risks. For hospitalized and sick babies at home, the safest way to receive milk is through a milk bank.

Why would I donate my milk for free, if I can sell it to a company instead?

When mothers sell their milk to a for-profit company, they don’t always have the level of certainty about where their milk ends up. Also, selling milk opens up several quality control concerns. Would a needy mom deprive her baby of milk or dilute her milk because she needed money? As in blood banking, we have found that donors who give simply to help another person, yield the best results. Also, our moms at MMBNT love to have communication with the families of babies they help. Finding new ways to connect donor moms with recipient stories is a constant goal.

IMG_0020What does a baby’s family pay for donor milk at your milk bank?

Because MMBNT is a non-profit milk bank, families are not charged for the milk itself, only for the expenses of milk processing. These tissue-processing fees include the procedures of storing, pasteurizing, testing and dispensing donor milk. Because these fees typically only cover 60% of operational costs, the milk bank relies on community support, grants, fundraising events and individual donations.

How do you decide which babies will get my milk?

Human milk is a precious, limited resource and is prioritized for the sickest of babies with the greatest need. While EVERY baby can benefit from human milk, it is important to appropriate donor milk where it can do the most good for the most babies. Typically, 75% of donor milk is dispensed by physician prescription to NICUs, and 25% to medically fragile babies at home. At MMBNT, donor milk is not stored for long periods of time. We process and dispense milk quickly. The more milk we receive, the more babies we can help.

NICU Christmas 2011What happens if a family doesn’t have insurance or can’t pay your fees?

Babies are prioritized based on their medical condition, NOT their ability to pay. MMBNT’s charitable care program, The Milk Money Fund, ensures that a fragile baby going home from the hospital on donor milk will receive it, regardless of the family’s financial situation. In 2013, MMBNT provided $615,000 of charitable care. The Milk Money Fund is made up of funds donated by individuals and families who support the milk bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Milk for Money – Is It Ethical for a Company to Pay Moms for Breastmilk?

Milk for Money – Is It Ethical for a Company to Pay Moms for Breastmilk?

Making extra cash, especially around the holidays, is a luring prospect for us all.  But would you sell your breastmilk to pad your bank account?  Or should milk be donated to help others like blood and other valuable organs and tissues?  The answers to these questions may be more complicated than you think.

Texas BreastfeedingRecently, the debate about selling breastmilk was fueled by a New York Times article that examines the ethics of an Oregon-based company, Medolac Laboratories, and its strategy to pay low-income women, by the ounce, for milk.  In conjunction with The Mothers Milk Cooperative, Medolac then processes the milk and sells it to hospitals for a significantly high margin.  To access the article, click here.

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas stands firmly against companies that profit from buying milk.  Here’s why:

1.  Paying donors for breastmilk could result in significant risks to infants.  A mother, tempted with the incentive for financial gain, may forgo feeding her own baby breastmilk, denying her child vital immunological benefits.  Other risks could include the intention to increase income by boosting milk volume through dilution or the use of additives, thereby jeopardizing nutritional value and safety.

best quality HMBANA logo copy2.  Non-profit milk banks consistently demonstrate a stellar safety record under the standards of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).  Since 1985, HMBANA has implemented rigorous standards for accepting, processing and dispensing donor milk to the most vulnerable and fragile babies.  In the past 12 months, HMBANA’s 18 member milk banks have dispensed 3.8 million ounces of lifesaving donor human milk.  Read more about HMBANA and its position against for-profit milk donations in a recent press release by clicking here.

preemie3. Volunteer donors are safe donors.  Volunteer donors are generous mothers who are willing to share their extra milk to help critically ill babies.  They are screened through medical histories and blood tests and by donating to a non-profit milk bank, can be assured that their milk is truly going to infants in need.

Milk Bank Lab

4. Donor milk is safely pasteurized and processed.  HMBANA milk banks such as Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas currently process milk using the Holder method of pasteurization.  Clinical evidence has shown that this method of pasteurization is gentle enough to preserve critically important immunological properties.  There is a lack of evidence from companies that use alternative methods of pasteurization, exposing milk to pressure and temperatures in excess of 100 C.

Next week’s blog will address frequently asked questions from moms who are interested in the options available for their extra breastmilk.  If you have a question, please contact us:

For more information about HMBANA and its member milk bank locations, click here.

To learn more about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas or how to become a donor, click here.

 

 

 

 

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Milk Donation Can Help Grieving Mothers

Milk Donation Can Help Grieving Mothers

At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, the majority of our breastmilk donors are moms who produce an abundance of milk . . . more than is needed for their own babies.  However, there are also many mothers who donate milk after the tragic death of an infant.  In addition to facing tremendous grief, many moms must address how to handle the natural process of lactation.  For some bereaved mothers, donating breastmilk to a milk bank can be both consoling and healing.

Carmen's Tree

“Carmen’s Tree” is located in the entrance of Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. Each leaf honors a mother who donated milk after the death of an infant.

Last week, the International Breastfeeding Journal published a report from Australia about breastmilk donation after neonatal death.  It’s findings show that “lactation and breast milk can hold great value and meaning for grieving mothers who have experienced a recent death of an infant”.  Instead of discarding breastmilk, many moms find comfort in donating to a milk bank, knowing they will help babies in need.

A year ago, the Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne hosted Australia’s first National Stakeholder Meeting to evaluate the topic.  Representatives from Australian milk banks, NICUs and parent support organizations all contributed to the report.  Seven dominant themes were discussed and evaluated by twelve stakeholders:

  1. the spectrum of women’s lactation and donation experiences after infant death
  2. the roles of milk banks and NICUs in meeting the needs of bereaved parents
  3. how bereaved mothers’ lactation autonomy may interface with a milk bank’s donation guidelines
  4. how milk donation may be discussed with bereaved mothers
  5. the variation between four categories of milk donation after neonatal death
  6. the impact of limited resources
  7. the limited number of Australian milk banks that provide programs for bereaved mothers
A freezer full of donor milk

A freezer full of donor milk

Now, a year later, the comprehensive report addresses these themes and issues such as caring for a bereaved donor, respecting the individuality of each grieving mother, and providing appropriate and sensitive support.  Studies such as this can help milk banks worldwide evaluate the latest research and improve procedures related to bereaved milk donors.

To read the report and access a PDF of the study, click here.

To learn more about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas and how to become a donor, click here.

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Make a Holiday Gift Donation and Help Save Tiny, Precious Lives

Make a Holiday Gift Donation and Help Save Tiny, Precious Lives

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas Kicks Off

2014 Fall Giving Campaign

MMBNT Fall 2014 Giving Campaign(1)_000001Looking for a creative gift this holiday season?  Honor a loved one this year through a donation to Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas.  Funds raised will ensure that eligible premature and critically ill infants will receive life saving pasteurized human donor milk, regardless of the family’s ability to pay. Donations are tax-deductible.  See our donor form and giving campaign newsletter by clicking here.

The fall giving campaign, launched last week, gives contributors the options of making one-time gifts and holiday gift donations to family and friends.  Holiday gift donations must be received by Monday, December 15.  Holiday gift greeting cards will be sent to recipients between Monday, December 15 and Friday, December 19.

RyanIMG_2223

Ryan, a donor milk recipient

“This fundraising campaign is a great opportunity for the local community to support the life saving work we have done here for ten years, “ says Amy Vickers, Executive Director.  She adds, “Because 1 in 8 babies is born prematurely in the United States, it is crucial we continue to raise the funds needed to save these fragile, little lives.”

Ryan, pictured above, has thrived on donor milk.  Born with a hypoxic brain injury that has resulted in many medical challenges, Ryan is gaining weight, rolling over, holding his head up and interacting with his parents and 14 siblings.  To read more about Ryan, click here.

2014 Levels of Giving include:

  • $25 provides safe storage for 3000 ounces of milk
  • $50 pays for the shipment of milk for one baby at home
  • $100 covers screening and testing for one donor mom to safely donate milk
  • $500 screens 5 donor moms to safely donate milk
  • $750 provides a shipment of milk to a critically ill baby at home
  • $1000 establishes a milk collection site that receives and stores donated milk for delivery and processing
  • $3000 pays courier costs for milk transportation from collection sites to the milk bank for one month

How to Donate

  • Print our holiday gift donation form and mailer by clicking on :

    Donor Form and Giving Campaign Newsletter

  • Or make a one-time donation online via PayPal by clicking here.
  • Return donation forms with checks payable to Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, 600 W. Magnolia Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas, 76104.
  • Questions?  Fill out this contact form for assistance:

For more information about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, visit our website.

 

 

 

 

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Observing World Prematurity Month: One Milk Donor Mom Shares Her Son’s Survival Story

Observing World Prematurity Month: One Milk Donor Mom Shares Her Son’s Survival Story

IMG_0565November is World Prematurity Month and next Monday, November 17, is World Prematurity Day. In the United States, 1 of every 8 babies is born prematurely. For these babies, breastmilk is life saving. Breastmilk provides protection through immunological properties, and premature infants who receive it, are less likely to develop serious complications like infections.  Therefore, when a mother’s own milk is not available, donor human milk from a milk bank is the best alternative.

In observance of World Prematurity Month, Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas would like to recognize the very special 3rd birthday of Camden Richardson, which is this Saturday, November 15. Camden was born prematurely at 29 weeks gestation.  His mother, Megan, tells his story and how she became a milk donor mom.

11-30-11

Megan with Camden

Shortly after midnight on November 15, 2011, I realized that I had fallen asleep without feeling my baby move. After poking on my belly, eating a banana, and rolling side-to-side, I knew something was terribly wrong when I still could not feel any movement.

I immediately went to the hospital and prayed that I would have the strength to deal with what was to come. The doctors said our baby’s heart was still beating with occasional drops in rate. We were transported to Willis-Knighton South Hospital in Shreveport, LA where I had an emergency C-section.

The bottom 3 shelves of this NICU freezer are filled with Megan's milk.

The bottom 3 shelves of this NICU freezer are filled with Megan’s milk.

The doctors discovered that our baby’s umbilical cord was not only around his neck twice, but was also in a knot. Camden Micheal weighed 3 lbs. 2 oz. and was 15 inches long. I remember hearing a tiny cry as his premature lungs struggled to function before he was put on a mechanical ventilator.

As a former NICU nurse, I knew how breastmilk benefits premature babies. I breastfed my other two sons and wanted to provide our new little miracle with the same start, so I began pumping every 3-4 hours. At first Camden was on IV nourishment, but soon received less than a teaspoon of my milk through an oral-gastric tube. I was concerned that I would not produce enough milk, but I was able to fill up our home freezer as well as the one in the NICU!

Brothers 7-6-12

Camden with his older brothers

During his third week of life, Camden developed hydrocephalus from a small brain hemorrhage at birth. This rare and unanticipated development lengthened his stay in the NICU. It was during this time that I realized we needed to do something with all of my stored milk. My mom suggested that I look into donating my breastmilk. I completed the donor application process for the Mothers’ Milk Bank at North Texas and donated 769 ounces. I donated my breastmilk to another milk bank as well, making my total donation 1,621 ounces.

The Richardson Family

The Richardson Family

Donating my milk helped me look outside of my own crisis, and gave me something to feel good about as I left the hospital day after day without our baby for nearly three months. I was happy to know that I could help other mothers provide their babies with the benefits of breastmilk. On January 24, 2012, Camden had surgery to implant a permanent shunt to drain the fluid from his brain. We were finally able to take our baby boy home from the hospital on February 2, 2012 and it did not take him long to grow into my milk supply.

Camden Aug2014

Camden in August

Today, Camden is growing and developing as expected with his medical history. At almost 3 years old, he doesn’t need therapy anymore and hasn’t had any issues with his shunt since his last surgeries in May 2013.  Nobody can tell he had such a rough start.

The Richardson Family is expecting a fourth boy at the end of January.  If Megan ends up with surplus breastmilk, she plans to become a milk donor again.

For more information on World Prematurity Day, click here.

For more information about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas or how to become a donor mom, click here.

 

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