Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank provides donated, pasteurized human milk to babies in fragile health throughout Pennsylvania when a mother’s own milk is unavailable. All babies benefit from human milk, but for medically vulnerable infants, human milk is critical and can be lifesaving.
In 2014, when Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank started operations, only 37% of Level 3 or 4 NICU’s in Pennsylvania offered mother’s milk. This year 100% of Pennsylvania Level 3 NICU’s will have mother’s milk thanks to the milk bank’s dedication to this important cause. The organization distributed 167,000 ounces of milk in 2018 and estimate that number will rise to 200,000 in 2019.
Why is mother’s milk so important, particularly for babies in the NICU?
1. Up to 70% of babies in the NICU will need some donor milk at least initially.
2. Since Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank began operations, NICU’s are reporting a reduction in necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).
3. Hospitals are seeing are seeing a higher rate of exclusive maternal breastfeeding success in their NICU’s since starting to use donor milk.
4. Vulnerable babies have shown better feeding tolerance, reducing IV feeding.
While Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank has achieved great success in a short amount of time, the organization has many operational challenges and constraints. The milk needs to be bottled, pasteurized, tested and analyzed for nutritional content. Before donating, each donor is tested and doctor references are checked. It is a lengthy and costly process to secure donor milk, and to be fiscally solvent, the Milk Bank needs to produce a certain amount of volume. Over time, Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank would love to bring costs down, increase breastfeeding rates and provide mother’s milk to more babies.
A 2018 grant from The Foundation for Delaware County has helped Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank conduct more outreach in the region, increasing awareness and understanding of their services among providers and families. “This grant has helped immensely.” commented Executive Director Denise O’Connor, “We have many more new donors in the area because of our expanded outreach efforts.”
To learn more about Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank and spread awareness please visit their website.