Kylie Crabbe having time with one of her twin daughters Brooke

Milk bank needs help

by Ann van Engelen

The Human Milk Bank in Christchurch provides screened pasteurised donor breast milk for the sick and preterm babies in the Neonatal Unit, and the bank is in desperate need of breast milk donors to help with demand.

“One in 10 babies born is admitted to a Neonatal Unit, sometimes only for a short stay, but it is a stressful time for a family,” says Human Milk Bank manager Anthea Franks.

“Unfortunately the milk bank has low supplies of milk at the moment and are looking for new donors. Breast milk is more easily digested than formula milk, especially for preterm babies.

“Providing donor milk supports breastfeeding mothers in those early days after birth as they work hard to establish their own milk supply under frightening and emotional conditions. To that end, donor milk is seen as a supplement, not as a replacement for a mother’s own milk as the breast milk profile is specific to each family.”

Milk from registered donors is pasteurised, that is heat-treated in the same way as other food, to ensure milk that is given to these vulnerable babies is as safe as possible.

“As much as 70 litres can be dispensed to more than 60 babies in the unit and on the maternity ward at Christchurch Women’s Hospital a month. The Human Milk Bank relies on the kindness of healthy breastfeeding mothers who have a desire to help other mothers and a surplus supply of milk.

These mothers are screened for lifestyle choices and undergo a blood test as part of the process of becoming a registered donor to the milk bank.

“There are often donors from Lincoln, Prebbleton, Rolleston and West Melton as young families live in these areas. The milk bank has a weekly community pick up service in some areas for donations thanks to Nurse Maude volunteers. We are also fortunate and grateful to have the help of the midwives at the Rangiora Hub to receive raw milk from registered donors and transport it to the milk bank once a week or fortnightly.

Sometimes one mum will collect for others and deliver it to the hub if they are outside the area.

“If you think you can help by becoming a donor visit the CDHB Human Milk Bank website for information and documentation.”