Hudson Hospital Birth Center is the only hospital in western Wisconsin to offer a human donor milk program – an option for babies, who meet certain criteria, to supplement with human breast milk instead of formula. For various reasons, a mother may not always be able to produce breast milk for her baby, or her breast milk has not come in yet. Donor milk is used as a bridge to help nourish babies until a birth mother’s milk comes in. Donated breast milk is second only to the mother’s own breast milk and provides optimal nutrition. Hudson Hospital now offers a Breast Milk Depot so moms in the local area can donate extra breast milk. They can donate their extra milk through the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa which pasteurizes the donated milk, tests it for bacteria, then freezes it and ships it to hospitals for infants in need.
“I’m excited to share my breast milk with other birth moms for their newborns!” says Emily LaBadie, River Falls, Wisc. – a Hudson Hospital staff member and new mom. LaBadie recently started the process and is the first mom to donate her breast milk through the Hudson Hospital Birth Center’s Breast Milk Depot. After the birth of her daughter, Stella, she found that she was producing an abundance of milk – both for baby Stella – and plenty more. Knowing that Stella is a strong and healthy baby, LaBadie decided to sign up for the milk depot program. She contacted the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa and worked with the lactation consultants at Hudson Hospital Birth Center to learn about donating her milk. A coordinator with the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa provided all the details and process to become approved to donate milk.
“The process was really easy!” claims LaBadie. After completing an initial phone interview, she filled out a number of forms for health history, midwife/physician consent, and pediatrician consent. “I then had my blood drawn at Hudson Hospital Specialty Clinic lab,” states LaBadie. The prenatal vitamins that LaBadie was taking included herbal supplements, so she was asked to discontinue the herbal supplements prior to testing her blood. The labs were sent for testing at the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa (a free test) to determine if she was a healthy candidate to donate milk. LaBadie and her physician were contacted within a few weeks with the results and a meeting was set for her to drop off donor milk with the Birth Center. She was thrilled to receive the email, “You are approved and all set to get started!”
Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa
The Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa sent LaBadie sterilized containers with labels for her to store the additional milk she pumps throughout the week. “Their goal is for me to provide approximately 200 ounces over the duration of my breastfeeding months. It’s about 10-20 ounces per week,” she said. The milk is labeled and stored in a freezer – and finally transported to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa for processing and pasteurizing. The delivery truck also makes stops at the other metro area hospitals offering the Milk Depot. The milk is available to order for hospitals across the Midwest. The donated milk may or may not end up in the same community that it was donated.
For LaBadie, breastfeeding was not exactly easy at first as she experienced engorged milk ducts. Working with the lactation consultants, she was encouraged to continue breastfeeding. She also credits the Hudson Hospital New Parents Education & Support group for the opportunity to meet other breastfeeding moms and share thoughts, concerns and ideas on what works for them.
The benefits of breastfeeding for babies as well as moms are well-documented. According to the American Academy of Pediatricians, “human milk provides virtually all the protein, sugar, and fat your baby needs to be healthy, and it also contains many substances that benefit your baby’s immune system, including antibodies, immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells.” These provide protection for baby against a wide variety of diseases and infections – not only during breastfeeding, but in some cases long after the baby has weaned. And there are benefits of breastfeeding for moms. It burns extra calories, and can help to lose the pregnancy weight faster. It releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps the uterus return to its pre-pregnancy size and may reduce uterine bleeding after birth. Breastfeeding also lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, according to the American Academy of Pediatricians.
How to donate
Mothers who wish to donate breast milk may contact the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa directly at 877-891-5397. They are screened and labs tested before their milk is accepted into the program. This reputable organization has managed the process of donor milk for over two decades. To learn more about the Hudson Hospital Birth Center Milk Depot Program, visit www.hudsonhospital.org.
(photo above: Lactation consultants Erica Hanson, RN, IBCLC and Maria Schmidt, RN, CLC support new moms in their breastfeeding experience – and help guide them through the Milk Depot process. Emily LaBadie, with daughter Stella, drop off her first batch of frozen breast milk at the Hudson Hospital Birth Center Milk Depot. (Not pictured Lactation consultants Jessica Altman, RN, IBCLC and Kristi Powell, IBCLC).