Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday: Donating Breast Milk to a Milk Bank


There are 33 milk banks across the country – the closest to us being The Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk.  You can think of them like blood banks, but for breast milk. 

“They collect and store other mother’s milk, they pasteurize it and then they use it for those premature infants who need breast milk,” said Allyson Michaels, RN, a lactation consultant at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital. 

The milk bank can be a huge help to mothers who aren’t able to make as much milk as their baby needs. 

“Premature babies have special needs,” said Michaels.  “They can’t process foods the same way a full term baby can so when a premature baby starts to feed, breast milk is so much more easily and quickly digested.  Breast milk is like a lifesaving medicine.”

While there is a screening process that involves an interview, lab work and information from a donor’s physician as well as their baby’s pediatrician, the best way to find out if you quality as a donor is to call the milk bank. 
“There are a lot of misconceptions out there about who can donate and who can’t. The best way to find out if you’re a potential donor is to call them,” said Michaels. 

There is no cost to donors, and also no payment.  Basically, it’s a way for moms to help other moms and babies in need. 

“This is really a giving thing for a mother to do for another mother who can’t provide that milk.  It’s just a truly altruistic, gift from the heart,” said Michaels. 

You can reach the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters Milk Bank by calling 757-668-6455.

For more information on this topic, please call 1-800-SENTARA.  If you have a question about your health you’d like us to answer, please email healthquestions@nbc29.com

Sentara Martha Jefferson Monday

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