I'm part of a fledgling breastfeeding coalition in my area (Western Massachusetts). We meet monthly at Motherwear and are trying to get a couple of projects off the ground.
One of them is a collection point for breastmilk donated to the new Mother's Milk Bank of New England (no website yet), which is expected to open in 12 to 18 months in the Boston area. It'll serve NICUs all over New England. This is very exciting because the nearest milk banks to New England are in North Carolina and Ohio! At the collection point we'd collect milk from mothers in this area who have gone through the screening process, and transport it to Boston.
So, I'm starting to look around for a location. We'll need a deep freezer and a location with backup power so that milk doesn't thaw if there's a power outage. I've heard that some milk banks locate collection stations in fire stations for that reason. We'll also need to either drive the collected milk in to the Boston area, or try to get shipping donated by a local UPS or FedEx store. If anyone reading this runs a collection station, or knows someone who does, please email me.
We hosted the director of the new milk bank a few months ago, and learned some really interesting facts about milk banking. For example:
- The first milk bank in the country was established in Boston in 1911 at the Children's Floating Hospital.
- There are 10 non-profit milk banks in the U.S. There are more than that in the U.K., despite lower population, and there are hundreds of milk banks in Brazil.
- Many milk banks shut down during the 1980's due to concerns about HIV.
- The incidence and severity of illness among premature babies is decreased when a NICU uses banked breastmilk (as a supplement to a mother's own milk). Babies fed supplemental donor milk also leave NICUs earlier.
- Even after pasteurization, donor milk retains 100% of many important components of breastmilk that aren't present in formula at all. Other components not present in formula survive the pasteurization process and are reduced only in part.
- Pasteurized milk from non-profit milk banks is sold for $3 to $4 per ounce.
- There has been a huge increase in demand for donor milk in recent years, driven in part by mothers who insist on it, and neonatologists who see the benefits for their patients and "never look back."