The breast milk donation program at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital has reached a major milestone — 104 mothers in the community have helped other families by donating 50,000 ounces of breast milk to keep the most vulnerable babies fed and healthy.
Kennestone’s lactation team is dedicated to making sure every baby has the resources they need to stay healthy from the day they’re born, and the hospital’s breast milk donation program gets babies off to the right start.
If, for any reason, a mother is unable to provide breast milk, or enough breast milk for her baby in the NICU, donor milk from a Human Milk Banking Association of North America milk bank can help fill the gap. “For many babies in our NICU, this is life-saving medicine,” said Roxanne Graham, supervisor of maternal and infant support services at Kennestone.
Through Kennestone’s partnership with the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin, mothers and their babies throughout the country have the option of using donated breast milk, giving babies a head start on all the benefits of breastfeeding.
Breast milk provides babies with infection-fighting antibodies that lower their chances of getting sick. It also offers protection against developing allergies and is easier for babies to digest. Donated breast milk is pasteurized and screened to ensure safety.
“It improves the quality of human life, especially for babies that are medically fragile,” Graham said. Kennestone’s milk depot opened in 2018. The NICU there has been using donor milk since 2012.
“It has significantly decreased the incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis, which is a serious and life-threatening condition associated with premature infants,” said Marie Black, the assistant nurse manager for Kennestone’s NICU. “We highly encourage our moms to pump for their babies but in instances where there is not enough supply, we have our donor milk for those babies.”
To celebrate reaching 50,000 donated ounces, Kennestone’s “Liquid Gold” display showcases the amount received using 390 gallon containers.
If you are interested in donating breast milk, the process is convenient. Donating mothers are asked to become vetted with the milk bank and provide at least 100 ounces for the first donation. After that, smaller donations can make a difference — 5.5 ounces feeds a premature baby for 24 hours, according to the Mother’s Milk Bank of Austin.
Call (770) 793-8087 to learn more about donating life-saving breast milk to Kennestone’s milk depot.