When premature babies are fed breast milk exclusively rather than formula, the baby is more likely to have better health outcomes and earlier discharge home from the hospital.
If a mother’s milk isn’t available, donor milk allows an infant to receive the important benefits of breast milk. You can help save lives by donating the gift of breast milk.
How to donate breast milk
At Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield, there are about 300 newborn admissions to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) each year. The hospitals at Marshfield Clinic Health System partner with Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes to help facilitate breast milk donations for NICU patients.
“We can provide information on how to contact the milk bank, and they will screen the candidate for donation,” said Jessie Richardson, lactation consultant at Marshfield Medical Center.
Mother’s Milk Bank requires approved donors to:
- Plan to donate at least 100 ounces to the milk bank.
- Store milk in clean, food grade containers.
- Donate milk that has been stored for less than one year in a deep freezer or six months in a standard freezer.
- Donate milk that was pumped before their baby’s second birthday.
- Contact the milk bank if there are any changes in health status or when taking new medications.
The screening and background check to become a milk donor is strict and may take a few weeks to complete. However, Richardson encourages donating milk through a milk bank rather than casual milk sharing.
You want to make sure that a mom who is donating is healthy with limited-to-no medication use,” she said. “It is not recommended to casually share breast milk or feed your baby breast milk that does not come from a milk bank because of known risks. There is a high need for donor breast milk for sick and premature babies. So when possible, moms should consider donating.”
She also said Marshfield Labs provides free lab screening in Marshfield to help move forward the process of donation.
Donor breast milk use in Marshfield
Marshfield Medical Center in Marshfield offers pasteurized donor breast milk to infants in the Birth Center and NICU who have a medical need to have supplemental feedings in the hospital. The goal is that their mother is working on breastfeeding and establishing breast milk supply for their baby. All of mother’s own breast milk is fed prior to pasteurized donor milk.
Milk bank depot in Marshfield
Marshfield Medical Center also is a milk bank depot. A milk depot collects human milk donations from healthy, lactating women who are approved donors through Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. Donations are sent to the milk bank, where they are pasteurized to eliminate any viruses and bacteria. After pasteurization, the milk is tested once again for safety and distributed to hospitals, following guidelines from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
If you have questions about Marshfield’s milk depot, call the Breastfeeding Warm Line at 715-389-3903.
Lactation consultants available for moms who are struggling
If you are struggling with breastfeeding your infant or have low milk supply, Richardson suggests meeting with a lactation consultant or your provider to problem solve the issue and provide options.
The Health System has lactation services in Eau Claire, Marshfield, Rice Lake and other facilities to provide help.