Fraser Health is asking breastfeeding mothers for more donations, which are critical in helping premature babies thrive.
“We are reaching out to our community papers in Fraser east to help us raise awareness about breast milk donation,” said Fraser Health spokesperson Tasleem Juma.
“We are seeing dramatic drops in donations in some of our communities.”
Those include Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Breast-feeding mothers in Maple Ridge donated 135,929 millilitres (45,614 ounces) of breast milk last year.
“Unfortunately, donations are much lower so far this year at only 24,412 millilitres (8,192 ounces),” said Juma.
So the health authority is trying to get the message out, that human milk is a valuable resource in short supply.
Tiny, sick babies in Fraser Health neonatal intensive care units are benefitting from generous donations from across the region, but the need is increasing, and the supply is not. Much like donating blood, donating human milk can be life-saving for premature babies who are prone to infections and illness.
Women who are currently breastfeeding can visit www.bcwomensmilkbank.ca and do a quick screening to see if they are eligible to donate any extra breast milk they may have
Once they have been fully screened by the provincial milk bank they get blood work done at their local lab. Their doctor is contacted to confirm that both the donating mother and baby are healthy and thriving.
Mothers then pump their milk and store it in the freezer in milk storage bags. A minimum donation of 150 ounces [4500 millilitres] is usually required. Every health unit in Fraser Health is now also a milk collection depot. Mothers can conveniently drop off their screened donor milk to the health unit in their own community. In previous years, women had to make their donations in Vancouver.
Fraser Health will ship the frozen breast milk from the milk collection depots to the Provincial Milk Bank in Vancouver, where it is processed and pasteurized. The pasteurized milk is sent back to the NICUs at Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial Hospitals to nourish and protect the tiniest and most fragile patients.
• For more information on how breastfeeding mothers can make a difference in a baby’s life, visit www.bcwomensmilkbank.ca.