North Shore moms are spreading their motherly love all across the province—and they are doing so with their own breast milk. As many as 32 local North Shore moms have donated 215.8 kilograms of breast milk to Vancouver Coastal Health’s donation site in West Vancouver, which opened in 2016.
It’s enough breast milk to fill 1,400 small baby bottles, and it’s extremely crucial the milk keeps flowing because there is demand for it, says VCH. The demand for donor milk is most acutely felt in the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) throughout the province. Having a depot site on the North Shore ensures that the preterm and ill babies at Lions Gate Hospital will receive pasteurized human milk.
The NICU at Lions Gate Hospital used 71,490 gm of pasteurized human donor milk. In August 2016, Vancouver Coastal Health opened several breast milk depot sites in Metro Vancouver. The North Shore site operated from the West Vancouver Community Health Centre on Marine Drive.
Eligible women can drop off their extra, raw, frozen milk at the site. The milk is stored in a freezer until enough is collected to be transported to the BC Provincial Milk Bank at BC Women’s Hospital. The depot site is also affiliated with the Provincial Milk Bank, which screens prospective donors, testes the raw milk before processing and distributing across local and other hospitals.
Donor breast milk is an excellent alternative when mothers own milk is not available, and more so for premature and sick babies in hospital as it significantly reduces the risk of a potentially deadly condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which causes bowel tissue death – the second most common cause of morbidity for premature infants.
Donor milk is also used for many other purposes including feeding intolerance, failure to thrive, post-surgical treatment, and to provide breast milk for babies whose mother may not have enough supply when a baby is in hospital. “We know human milk is the best food for babies, but some new mothers face challenges that prevent them from breastfeeding,” says Maureen Lister, Public Health Nurse.
“Donor milk has active beneficial properties and is similar to mother’s own milk. It provides babies with antibodies to fight disease and infection, which is especially vital for premature or babies battling medical conditions.”
According to Vancouver Coastal Health, there is a need of more donors as the demand for human donor milk far exceeds the supply that is available in the province.
If you are interested in becoming a breast milk donor, you can call the BC Women’s Milk Bank at 604-875-2282. You can also read more about how to donate breast milk at www.bcwomensmilkbank.ca.