Did you know that a mother’s breast milk donation is the only way a critically ill, premature infant can receive a purely human milk-based fortified diet? Mother’s milk makes a huge difference in how well these little babies do after birth, and it fights infection while providing ideal nutrition. It’s why BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank needs breast milk donations from healthy and able breastfeeding mothers in the Lower Mainland as soon as possible.
How breastmilk donation works and why it’s desperately needed right now
We visited BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank recently to take a tour of their facilities and see exactly what they do to collect, screen, pasteurize, freeze, and provide donated breastmilk to thousands of babies in need in NICUs all over British Columbia. The fact is, the provincial milk bank has a very low supply right now and are in dire need of more donations. If you’re breastfeeding right now and have the ability to give, you’ll be happy to know that the milk bank makes it very easy to give at the nearest local health unit in your community. Find out more here BC Women’s Milk Bank.
How BC Women’s makes it happen
We were given a tour by Frances Jones, the coordinator of BC Women’s Lactation Service and Provincial Milk Bank. She took me through the first steps, where women can quickly stop by the front desk to drop off their milk, all the way through to the giant freezer/fridges where they collect, store, label, screen, pasteurize, research and distribute the milk to babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) all over the province.
This time of year (November to January) is always a particularly slow time of year for milk bank donations, so right now the bank is in critical need of more donors to provide milk to mothers and babies in distress. There are depots and health units through out the province, so even if you live in Abbotsford or Kamloops, for example, there’s a local health unit in most communities that is equipped to collect and deliver the milk that you drop by.
Some reasons a mother may not be able to provide milk for her own baby
- If her milk supply is delayed due to premature delivery, or does not become established enough to provide sufficient milk.
- If a mother is pumping for twins or triplets and cannot provide enough.
- Due to the stress of having a hospitalized, ill infant whom she cannot hold or directly nurse.
- If she requires medications that may pass into breast milk and are harmful to the infant.
- If she has a chronic infection or another medical condition that precludes breastfeeding.
- If she has a breast infection that temporarily affects her milk production.