|11/4/2019 11:44:00 AM|
SWCAP opens regional milk depot center at Iowa County Food Pantry
|Those who need it the most, fragile, NICU babies, will now be able to get donor breast milk at the Iowa County Food Pantry as Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP) has become a registered milk depot with Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. The milk depot officially opened the middle of September and will be located at 138 S. Iowa Street in Dodgeville. Before the depot opened in Dodgeville, the closest locations were at The Richland Hospital, Inc. in Richland Center, Wis. and at the University of Wisconsin Clinic in Mount Horeb through Anne R. Eglash, MD, who is one of the founders of the Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.|
"We really want to raise awareness for the possibility of donating breast milk," explained WIC Director/Nutritionist Amy Graber. "Mothers don't have to throw out excess milk - they can donate it. We also want to shine a light that breastfeeding is a good thing. There's been a switch to more mothers breastfeeding now, and previously, that wasn't always the case. We hope people can see breastfeeding as normal."
The route for becoming and receiving donor breast milk is quite all-encompassing and takes about 2-3 weeks. Donors must go through a process involving a 10 to 15 minute phone conversation, detailed questionnaire, and potentially a blood test. After that, a mother must have at least 100 ounces of breast milk stored before a first donation can be made, and the milk must have been pumped before their child turns two years old along with being in single-use breast milk storage bags or containers labeled with the pump date. Breast milk can safely be stored for less than nine months in a deep freeze and less than six months in a regular freezer. Additionally, the donor must contact the milk bank if there are any changes in health status or when taking new medications. Those interested in learning more about becoming a donor should visit www.milkbankwgl.org/donate-milk.
Next, the human milk is dropped off at the Dodgeville depot where it will be stored in a deep freeze until it is ready to be shipped off to Elk Lake Village, Ill. for rigorous processing at Mothers' Milk Bank headquarters. At the milk bank, it is tested for bacteria, pasteurized, and sent to hospitals. "Eighty percent of the milk goes to NICUS while the rest goes to outpatients," explained Graber. "If someone wants to, they can request and buy donor breast milk for their child if they don't meet the qualifications."
Mothers' Milk Bank serves several NICUs in Wisconsin and Illinois, and their mission "is to save tiny lives by providing pasteurized donor human milk to premature and ill babies in our region and to promote human milk as the standard of care." All of their depots have to be in a location where freezers are checked as least five times a week. As the freezers at the Iowa County Food Pantry are already being checked that many times, it made great sense for a designated freezer to be put at that location. In fact, the freezer was donated by Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes, and the organization helped work out all the details for it.
Another service the milk bank provides is "comprehensive and compassionate support for mothers when they wish to donate their stored breast milk after their baby's death." The program is called Poppy's Dream Bereavement Milk Donation Program; donation requirements differ for mothers who donate after infant lass. With this, there are several exceptions to normal donations: there is no minimum donation - the milk bank will accept all bereavement donations; there are no exclusions - all bereavement donations are accepted, and the milk may be used for research if it cannot be processed for distribution; and families are invited to hang their child's star with their name on it along with a photo at Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. "If a family is not interested in milk donation that is ok! Milk Bank WGL accepts bereavement donations as a service to the community and is not actively seeking research milk," according to materials from Mothers' Milk Bank WGL. "Many families find that milk donation is an important part of the healing process, however [sic] this may not be the case for all families. The purpose of the human milk bereavement donation program is to offer each family a choice."
While there have been no donations at the Dodgeville location yet, Amy is hopeful that there will be in time. "We need to get the word out that we are a milk depot. Information about the milk depot and the process is available at the WIC clinics, SWCAP, and the Iowa County Food Pantry," she said. "For the future, I hope that people become aware of it and that we have a steady stream of donations that can be so beneficial to babies and provide the nutrition that they need."
For more information, visit www.milkbankwgl.org or call 847-262-5134.
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