Donor Breast Milk Benefits Preemies

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One in eight babies is born preterm and a significant number of moms with premature babies are not able to breastfeed. Donor milk banking plays an important role in meeting the critical nutritional needs of these babies. The new Mother's Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist gives approved donor lactating women a convenient drop off location for their donations of breast milk. The milk bank is at Baptist is equipped with 5 freezers and an additional freezer in the NICU to allow donors to drop off their milk donations around the clock.

“I encourage those who may have a surplus of breast milk to become donors,” says current milk bank donor Emily Martin. “You can help other babies become healthy and strong. The process is painless and anything helps. It’s very rewarding to help another family.”

A number of families have already benefited from donor milk and are quick to acknowledge the positive effects it had on their babies.

“Donor milk helped my baby thrive,” states Lakita Wickware, who delivered her son, Ray Charles, prematurely at Ochsner Baptist. “Because he came early, my milk had not come in yet and I wasn’t able to breastfeed. The doctor in the NICU told me donor milk was an option.”

At Ochsner Baptist, the current donation process could not be easier. Donors are screened using a detailed process of interviews and blood screening for communicable diseases at no cost to the donor. Once approved, the donor can drive to the valet on the second floor of the hospital’s parking garages and drop off her milk donation without ever leaving her car.

Ochsner has developed Louisiana’s first human milk bank at Ochsner Baptist in New Orleans. There are just 24 active milk banks recognized by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) in the US. The milk bank at Ochsner Baptist screens milk from approved donors, then proceeds with pasteurization, packaging and distribution to critically ill infants throughout Louisiana and the surrounding region.

The Mother's Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist is partnering with several depot locations across the state. A depot functions as a safe satellite storage for the milk bank. Depots are available in Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Baton Rouge, and will be expanding across the state. Women have the convenience of a location closer to home and milk is kept frozen before it is shipped to the Mother's Milk Bank of Louisiana at Ochsner Baptist for pasteurization. Research shows that the method of pasteurization used preserves approximately 50-90% of the immune factors that help protect babies from illness. Before pasteurized milk is dispensed, bacteriological testing is done to ensure its safety.

Get Involved!

Mothers who would like to donate should call 504-703-6455 and be able to provide the following information: name, address, phone number, email address, and your baby's age. Visit the website for more information.

Donate Time

For information on volunteering at the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Louisiana, contact Shelley Thibeau at sthibeau@ochsner.org.

Donate Money

If you would like to donate to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Louisiana, contact Lauren Phipps at lauren.phipps@ochsner.org or click here to donate online.

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