Breast milk bank keeps B.C. babies healthy

One mother describes why she donates to the bank and why it’s important

Kathryn Ng describes the service from the BC Women’s Hospital milk bank when she needed it as “wonderful.”

Ng, who is now a mother or two and two-time breast milk donor, says the bank helps relieve a new mother’s stress.

“After [a mother] delivers a child through the long delivery process, or even with a C-section, it is quite exhausting,” she says. “While the mom is working on getting the breast milk established, oftentimes it isn’t very much and might not be enough to give to the newborn baby.”

The BC Women’s Hospital provincial milk bank has provided British Columbian mothers with donor milk since 1974.

“Milk donation is truly an altruistic act where one mother is helping another mother,” says coordinator Frances Jones. “They say it takes a community to raise a baby, and certainly for many of our families, they are so thankful that other mothers are willing to help them out.”

Last year, the bank received more than 300 mothers who had extra milk because their babies were premature and don’t need all of their milk, as well as mothers with healthy babies who have extra milk, or bereaved mothers who are willing to donate.

“Babies who are premature have fragile digestive systems,” adds Jones, “and when they receive human milk, it is ideally mother’s own, but often when a baby is born early, it takes a mother a period of time to get her milk supply going.”

The milk bank has grown phenomenally in the last 10 years, she says, because demand for pasteurized donor milk has increased and there has been frequent research on the benefits of it for high risk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit babies.

The bank recently expanded to offer pasteurized donor milk throughout B.C. and 13 NICUs across Canada.

If a mother is interested in donating, Jones suggests they the milk bank at 604-875-3743 or visit their website at bcwomens.ca and search for “milk bank.”


@kieranroconnor
kieran.oconnor@bpdigital.ca

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