born prematurely can face life-long health problems. Often, their organs have
not developed fully, which can lead to a variety of serious medical conditions
and even death. But a growing trend – based on an ancient concept – may help
these tiny newborns. Erika Celeste
tells us about Indiana's Mothers Milk Bank.
Baur had no doubts that she would breast-feed her children. "It's the best
thing for them, that's what's motivated me to do it." She nursed her older
daughter until she started walking, and plans to do the same with her younger
The school counselor and mother of two has an ample supply of breast milk;
so much so, that much of it went to waste.
But recently the Indiana Mothers Milk Bank began accepting breast milk
at a new depot only 40 minutes from her home.
And Lisa Baur became the depot's first donor.
"perfect food" for babies
to Lutheran Hospital neonatologist James Cameron, "Breast milk is the
ideal food for any infant." While he isn't opposed to infant formula, he
says when it comes to preemies, human milk – with its proteins and specialized
sugars – is almost like medicine. "The breast milk that the mom's able to
provide helps with immunity, helps provide immunity and stimulates gut growth
and helps the cells of the gut to grow properly. It's very important for the health of the newborn."
points out that having nursing mothers provide breast milk for other women's
babies is not a new idea. "It's something that's been going on potentially
through the course of time with the concept of wet nursing, where you had a
mother that wasn't able to breast feed or for social reasons didn't want to
breast feed, many, many years ago, would have a wet nurse do the feeding for
Today, there are many reasons why mothers might not be able to nurse their
newborns: they may be too weak to nurse, are taking medications which may
endanger their newborn, or simply are not physically capable of producing milk.
are 11 milk banks around the United States with numerous drop-off depots. The
Indiana Mothers Milk Bank opened two years ago, and now has four drop-off
locations around the state. The depots are important because they make it
convenient for more women to participate.
Baur says she wanted to donate, but it was too expensive and difficult to get
her milk to the main facility. "I was glad when they opened the milk depot
here in Fort Wayne, because I couldn't figure out how to ship things on dry ice
and get it to Indianapolis," she says. "It's much easier to drive from my house to Ft. Wayne."
While the new depot has only been open a short while, Holly Romary, a
registered nurse and lactation consultant with the Indiana milk bank, says the
response has been very encouraging and she expects it to keep growing with
process keeps milk safe
explains that women who want to become donors have to go through a screening
process. "They have to be free of
communicable diseases, fill out a medical history form, they have to do a blood
test. They can't smoke, they can't be
on any illegal drugs of course." If the mother meets the bank's criteria,
she collects and freezes her own milk and brings it in as needed.
At the depot, the milk is pasteurized, analyzed for its nutritional content,
labeled and refrozen. The depot has a special freezer for storing large amounts
of milk. When it's about three quarters
full, the hospital makes its own dry ice to pack the milk in and ships it overnight
to the bank.
says the stored milk is distributed to hospitals that need it for a sick or
it may take a little extra effort to be a donor, Lisa Baur says it's well worth
it. "It's easy to do and you know you're helping someone."