Banking on Donor Milk

Banking on Donor Milk

Milk banking: it’s a practice that is ingrained in the everyday lives of the team at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. However, many people in our community and beyond aren’t as familiar with what it involves, or may not be aware of it at all. What may seem like a new concept to some has actually been around for thousands of years.


Donor milk began with the practice of wet nursing. If a mother was unable to breastfeed her child, another woman would step in and feed that child with her own milk. Evidence of wet nursing can be found as far back as 2250 BC, when Egypt’s Code of Hammurabi described the characteristics of a good wet nurse. As people became aware of potential disease transmission through this practice, wet nursing lost popularity, particularly by the early twentieth century.

In order to better organize breastmilk donation, the first milk bank opened in Vienna, Austria, in 1909. Two other milk banks opened in the following 10 years – one in Boston, and one in Germany. Early milk banks provided a place for collection and storage of milk, thanks to improvements in food safety and refrigeration. Milk banks continued to open around the world, and in 1985, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) was established.


However, milk banking entered an uncertain phase in the mid-1980s for fear of HIV transmission. Many milk banks closed, but after thorough screening and testing, the safety of donor milk was assured. By the 1990s, the number of milk banks across the globe increased.

The importance of milk banking is simple: breastmilk is a game-changer for preterm and critically ill infants. Feeding babies an all-breastmilk diet can lower the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis, a severe and deadly intestinal disease, by 79 percent. It also decreases the risk of late-onset sepsis, or blood infections after the first week of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends, “If mother’s own milk is unavailable despite significant lactation support, pasteurized donor milk should be used.”

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas opened its doors in 2004, and since then has dispensed close to 3 million ounces of donor milk to needy babies in North Texas and across the country. Breastmilk truly is liquid gold, containing nutritional properties that can’t be found anywhere else.

For more information about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, click here


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A Closer Look at “Milk”

A Closer Look at “Milk”

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas will join UNT Health Science Center, JPS Hospital, Tarrant County Breastfeeding Coalition and Tarrant County Infant Health Network for a screening of the film “Milk” at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12. This documentary displays perspectives of birth and feeding across the globe, from their similarities to their differences and the controversies in between.

Screening posterWriter/Director Noemi Weis and her crew spent three years conducting research and filming, which took place in 11 countries and captured stories of women from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. During production, Weis discovered the struggles faced by mothers are often universal.

“They were all talking about the same issues, united by a strong feeling of motherhood that clearly had no borders,” Weis said.

The topics covered within the film range from judgment faced by both formula-feeding and breastfeeding mothers, to the reestablishment of the milk banking system after the 1980s HIV outbreak, to new mothers finding appropriate medical support.

Milk film posterTo collect stories from mothers, the production team coordinated travel to 35 cities around the world. It was an exhilarating experience, as described by the team, which allowed them to witness multiple births, become immersed in customs of other cultures and compile a meaningful narrative.

“I am hoping that by uniting women from around the world in the universal topics of motherhood, birth and life, together, we will create the much needed change to offer new lives bright and healthy futures,” Weis said.

This special screening is at UNT Health Science Center in room 124N of the Medical Education and Training Building. UNT Health Science Center is located at 1000 Montgomery Street in Fort Worth. Dinner is provided for the first 100 guests. There will be a Q&A session with an expert panel following the film.

To RSVP for the screening, click here.


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Pumping on the Job: Shaina’s Story

Pumping on the Job: Shaina’s Story

Many moms go back to work after giving birth, which can pose a new set of accommodations needed in their workplaces. While baby may not be at the office, his or her feeding schedule can still affect mom’s work day. Pumping during the work day allows moms to maintain the milk supply needed for their babies, even without directly breastfeeding.

Shaina and Noah at the office

Shaina and Noah are scrubbed up and ready to work.

Our Director of Operations, Shaina, is the expert pumper in the office at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. After her son Noah was born in April 2015, she put in the extra time and effort to keep a pump schedule for a year.

Using an alarm on her phone kept Shaina on schedule. The phone would buzz every two to three hours, reminding her to take a pumping break. The MMBNT office has a lactation room, which provides moms like Shaina a comfortable, private space to pump or breastfeed. A schedule like this can be challenging to maintain, though, and she admires women who keep it up.

“It’s hard to work pumping into the day,” Shaina said. “I have supportive coworkers who would encourage me to take breaks, which was great.”

Special accommodations in the office made her pumping experience easier. One cabinet in the break room stored all of Shaina’s pumping supplies, and there was a designated area in the freezer where she kept her milk during the work day.

MMBNT lactation room

The lactation room at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas.

Shaina recommends finding fun ways to pass the time while pumping. For her, this included watching videos and looking at pictures of her son, as well as spending time on her social media. She also suggests bagging milk right after each pumping for easy storage.

While she is no longer pumping, Shaina does still breastfeed Noah. Living near the office allows her to go home during her lunch breaks to feed her son.

NoahOverall, Shaina feels lucky to have had a positive experience of pumping while at work. “I had the experience I feel that all women should have,” she said, thankful for her coworkers’ good attitudes toward pumping.

She believes that having appropriate space and support from those around you is essential. “Despite any challenges,” Shaina said, “it is all worth the satisfaction of knowing your baby is getting what he needs.”

For more information about Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.

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From Milk Bank Staff to Mom: Simone’s Journey

From Milk Bank Staff to Mom: Simone’s Journey

If you’ve been involved with Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas at any point in the past six years, you’ve likely come across Simone Summerlin. As our Director of Programs, she oversees the dispensation of donor milk to both hospitals and outpatients. However, her position has transformed since she first joined the team in September of 2009. And just weeks ago, she stepped into a new role: mom.

Simone, donor mom Amber and her two children.

Simone, donor mom Amber C. and Amber’s children during their visit to MMBNT.

Simone joined the staff after a friend, who worked at MMBNT at the time, asked her if she was interested in a job. Simone had just begun her first semester of college, pursuing a culinary arts degree.

“My plan was to pursue a career in the food industry once my degree was complete,” she said. “When that time came, I realized that I couldn’t leave MMBNT; this place is my home!”

When Simone first joined MMBNT, she started as a Donor Program Coordinator. While speaking with every milk donor who passed through our doors, she realized this job allowed her to fulfill a passion. Despite not yet having children of her own, Simone felt a connection with these donors.

Simone and donor mom Tara R.

Simone with donor mom Tara R., who raised money for MMBNT by selling t-shirts.

“There were countless times I felt completely underqualified for the job, but I used each day as an opportunity to learn from the donors I spoke to and to pass on their wisdom as encouragement for other moms,” Simone said.

After five years as a Donor Program Coordinator, she spent six months flexing her creative skills as Outreach Director. As MMBNT’s needs changed, she stepped into her current role as Director of Programs.

In March, Simone and her husband Adrian welcomed their first son, Rhett, into the world. While she is learning new things every day, Simone says she can credit much of her confidence as a new mom to MMBNT.

Simone, husband Adrian and baby Rhett

Simone, husband Adrian and baby Rhett.

“Between receiving tips and encouragement from donor moms and our executive director’s wisdom as a lactation consultant, I welcomed this new chapter of my life knowing more about motherhood than I could have ever expected to,” she said.

When asked what advice she would give to other new moms, Simone said to relax and cherish every waking moment you have with your baby.

“I make sure that I take the time out of my day to just hold my baby, breathe in his heavenly scent, and soak up every feature of his perfect little body,” Simone said.

We are so glad Simone has been a constant at MMBNT for so long, and we are excited to welcome baby Rhett into our family!

Professional photos courtesy of Mike Miller Photography.


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Board Member Donates Her Time and Her Milk

Board Member Donates Her Time and Her Milk

Becoming a donor mom was a natural fit for Melissa. As a former NICU nurse, she’s seen breastmilk work its wonders firsthand. When she missed working with preemies and other critically ill infants, donating her extra breastmilk became her way of giving back.

Melissa's family awaiting Ryan's birth.Melissa has been pumping for most of 6 month-old son Ryan’s life. “I started at 2 months pumping once per day after he nursed in the morning,” she said. “I would freeze half for him to use later and half to donate. It quickly added up and I was excited to make my donation.”

Ryan is the third child in the family, but this is Melissa’s first time as a donor. While she felt she didn’t produce enough with either of her two daughters, this time she decided that every little bit counts.

“I think there are a lot of moms that feel they need an oversupply to make a difference, when really you just need 15 minutes every morning,” Melissa said.

RyanAt Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we are grateful for Melissa’s donations and the donations of many moms like her. However, Melissa’s involvement at MMBNT extends even further: she is a member of our Board of Directors. She joined the board last summer and enjoys serving a cause that fits so closely with her passion of helping babies.

Melissa's children on Christmas morning.Although Melissa no longer works in the NICU, she still helps babies and their families in a professional capacity. After her second daughter was born, she founded Newborn Nightingales, a sleep consulting and night nursing company. Through this company, Melissa and her staff help parents with their newborn needs, such as nighttime care and developing healthy sleep habits.

In the last three years, Newborn Nightingales has helped more than 400 families, a statistic Melissa is proud of. “I love babies,” Melissa said. “I always have. I also love my sleep and know how important it is for babies and families. This is my way of helping now.”

For more information about becoming a donor mom, click here.

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