A group of Edmonton mothers are raising funds to create a donation depot for breast milk.
The Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton (BACE) is hoping to create a human milk collection depot where women will be able do donate and freeze their milk. The milk would then be shipped to Calgary for pasteurization before it is returned to Edmonton for use in neonatal units.
The Calgary Mothers Milk Bank, which opened in April and is only the second in Canada, already allows anyone to ship donations to the bank to be processed. But shipping frozen human milk is an expensive process that BACE doesn’t think any mother has to do alone, said Jodine Chase BACE spokesperson.
“(We’ve) been lobbying and encouraging the creation of a milk bank for our babies here for decades,” she said.
“We were very excited when the Calgary milk bank opened and we know that there are lots of women in Edmonton who have milk to donate. We want to make it as easy as possible for them to be able to give that milk.”
The depot’s needs are very simple, Chase explained. It would most likely be in a public health centre with open hours and easy access. A secure area with a freezer would really be all that is needed.
“We’re not talking about $100,000 (in costs). We’re talking about maybe $2,000,” Chase said.
The Calgary milk bank is always ready to send milk to Edmonton if its needed, but the depot is designed so mothers who are producing more than enough milk can help others who don’t have enough milk.
BACE volunteer Katherine Teske described her situation last winter when she gave birth to her son seven and a half weeks early. She was able to pump milk for her son while he spent three weeks in NICU, but many other moms couldn’t — either because they had health problems associated with the early birth, were stressed or just weren’t able to produce milk.
“Meanwhile, my milk supply blossomed,” Teske wrote on the BACE Facebook page.
“By the time my baby came home from the hospital, I had filled up a whole freezer full of milk. I couldn’t help but think of how many babies in the hospital could be benefiting from the milk that was just sitting in my freezer.”
The World Health Organization recommends breast-feeding as the number one choice for babies, as breast milk includes many antibodies and nutrients that formula cannot provide.
BACE hopes to raise the money to create a depot centre by having a wine tasting fundraiser July 6. More details are available here. Tickets are $40 and people can also donate if they can’t make it to the actual event.