It was about 4 months into my maternity leave when I thought, “OK, I think I’m ready to help out a few hours a month to help get a milk bank back in Saskatchewan”. First off, I completely underestimated the time I would be involved ( it is not 4 hours a month – let me tell you!), but I also underestimated the passion and purpose I would feel when doing this work.
Too many people I know have felt unbelievably guilty for giving their babies formula – not because it wasn’t necessary, or the best choice at the time, or offered with the utmost love – but because they just wanted to give their baby the *best*, which, we always hear is breastmilk. But, when situations demand it – like a premature baby, or a well baby who just isn’t feeding well after coming home from the hospital, or a baby who isn’t gaining well and mom doesn’t feel she has the choice – the most readily available option is formula. That’s it: a dichotomous choice: breastmilk or formula.
For any mom and babe who needs it.
Whenever they need it.
In the amount they need it.
And, it needs to be safe.
It is pasteurized donor human milk.
How can we have that third option? A Donor Human Milk Bank. A milk bank would collect, process, and provide donor human milk to moms and babes who need it. Just like donating blood to a blood bank – lactating women would donate their milk (after undergoing standard screening). Their milk would be pooled, pasteurized, tested using international standards, and then stored and distributed to those who need it.
Imagine: you just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, but there was something wrong – in the post-birth haze you couldn’t quite catch the details –but you knew your babe was headed down to the NICU. When you got there, you talked with a nurse about feeding and she said that they would do everything they could to help you breastfeed, but because your baby needs to eat until that time, there is pasteurized donor human milk that you can feed baby until your milk comes in and breastfeeding can be established. The donor milk your babe receives is even from a pool of mothers who donated when their babies were 0-2 months old, which means, it will match your babies needs even better than milk for older babies or toddlers.
It may take more than 4 hrs a month, but that’s a reality I want to help build.
(Check out our facebook page: Milk Bank in Saskatchewan for ongoing updates for this work)