HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital is now offering a new option to Northeast Wisconsin families: donated breast milk.
“Really, it’s about choice now,” Amber Chibuk, Divisional Director of Women & Infant Services HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division said. “In the past, the options were mom’s milk, formula, and now we have donor breast milk that’s been pasteurized.”
The donated breast milk undergoes the Holder Pasteurization method.
“The Holder Pasteurization Method is a low temperature, long time pasteurization method,” Summer Kelly, Executive Director of The Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes said, “and that retains so many immune properties of human milk.”
The milk is given to babies in the hospital’s NICU, but it is also available for anyone to purchase.
“When a mom suffers from a low milk supply or medical condition, it’s emotionally very difficult,” Kelly said. “Donor milk gives families extra feeding options so that they can supplement their own milk supply.”
Kelly added that the milk can also be useful for parents who chose adoption or surrogacy.
“It’s the perfect food for a newborn baby,” she said. “It has a robust repertoire of immune factors that are not found in formula.”
The milk dispensary, made possible through a $10,000 grant from an anonymous donor, has already helped the hospital purchase enough milk to feed 140 babies.
The grant was also used to create a mural in the hospital’s Women and Infants Department to honor mothers who donate milk after losing their babies.
“Mothers that want to donate in memory of an infant that has passed can come here for memorial,” Chibuk said.
Whatever the circumstances of the donors, their efforts are appreciated by the dispensary.
“All of our donors are superheroes,” Kelly said. “They go to all of this extra effort and they want to save lives.”