• Donating to Mothers' Milk Bank Helps Nurture and Protect Premature Infants

Published on September 30, 2015

Donating to Mothers' Milk Bank Helps Nurture and Protect Premature InfantsSleeping Newborn Baby

Breast milk is a source of strength for babies in many ways, and that's especially true for those born too early.

Premature infants like those cared for in the Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Cottage Children's Medical Center, struggle with many challenges. Some of the youngest babies face life-threatening digestive diseases that can only be addressed with human milk. Yet their mothers are not always able to produce enough, possibly because of a baby's early arrival or health challenges that a mother faces.

That's when other moms step into help.

For more than 40 years, the Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose has collected breast milk from nursing moms willing to share what they can for the benefit of babies who are not their own. The non-profit organization is the only milk bank in California, and it provides milk to around 100 or more hospitals in and outside the state, including Cottage Children's Medical Center. Mothers' Milk Bank carefully screens and processes all donations and ensures the milk gets to the newborn infants who need it.

On Sept. 25, Cottage Health joined together with the Mothers' Milk Bank for Share the Love: Donor Milk Drive and Celebration, held at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Women learned about breast milk donation, had the opportunity to be screened and were able to donate their milk on site. In 2014, the Cottage NICU had 11 infants who needed to rely on donor milk. Very low weight premature babies usually will require donor milk from a period ranging from about two weeks to three months.

If you are interested and able to donate breast milk but didn't make it to the milk drive last week, you can still help. Visit Mothers' Milk Bank online to learn more, or call the toll-free number, 877-375-6645, for a quick telephone interview in English or Spanish. Once you have successfully gone through the screening process, the Milk Bank will provide a free shipping unit to your home so you can donate expressed milk as easily as possible.

Mothers' Milk Bank is:

  • a charter member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America
  • licensed as a tissue bank in California and Maryland
  • registered with the Food and Drug Administration.

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