Let’s bank the liquid gold – Breast milk donation matters!

Where moms make it count!
November 8, 2021

7 Minutes

While it is a flourishing concept in the western countries, Breast milk donation, is relatively new in our cities. Myths and misconceptions that prevail around breast milk donation, pose to be the challenge to the thriving and evolution of such banks.

‘Is it safe for my baby?’, ‘Will there be enough milk for my baby if I donate?’, How can I feed a stranger’s milk to my baby? Isn’t that weird?’ These questions hinder both the donors and the recipients from reaching out to these banks. After all, no mother wants anything less than the absolute best for their baby.

A general awareness on the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of breast milk donation will impact thousands of new born.

Why should parents reach out to Breast milk banks?

Mother’s milk is the elixir for the baby. It is called ‘Liquid Gold’, as it contains all the essential nutrients that a baby needs for his healthy growth and development.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months. And, not every little one has the luxury of breast milk for the entire 6 months. Pre-term babies, mothers with diabetes or under certain treatment/ medications, infected babies and orphans/adopted babies will be the ones to reap the benefits of Breast milk banks.

Breast milk / Mother’s milk bank, is a service attached to hospitals or nursing homes where breast milk is collected, screened, and stored from healthy lactating mothers (who willfully donate the milk) to meet the nutritional requirements of babies who are not biologically related to them.

“The milk can be saved in the hospital for up to three months,” said Dr Shanthi, Assistant Professor, Neonatal ICU, RSRM, Chennai, unlike at home where it can be stored for 4 days in the refrigerator.

WHO and UNICEF issued a joint statement in 1979 stating “Where it is not possible for the biological mother to breastfeed, the first alternative, if available, should be the use of human breast milk from other sources. Human milk banks should be made available in appropriate situations”.

India now has nearly 80 milk banks, operational as per the National Guidelines on Lactation Management Centres in Public Health Facilities.

List of some of the human milk banks in Chennai

  • RSRM Hospital, Royapuram
  • Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children (ICH),Egmore  
  • Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children, Triplicane
  • Government Maternity Hospital (IOG), Egmore
  • Vijaya Hospital, Vadapalani
  • CHILDS trust hospital, Nungambakkam
  • Dr Kamakshi Memorial hospital, Pallikarnai

FAQs:

1. Is Donated Breast Milk Safe for My Baby?  

Answer : Milk from Mother’s milk bank is received after a certification regarding the donor’s health from a Doctor; sterilized by pasteurization which destroys the bacteria while retaining  70% of the immunity in it. Only then it is distributed to the recipients. It is completely safe!

Whereas, there is no safety assurance when you get it from random people over the internet or elsewhere.

 2. How do I donate Breast milk?

Answer : If you are one of the blessed mothers with excess milk, sign up in a bank to donate. However, make sure you have read all the guidelines; the do’s and don’ts and check with your health care provider for your eligibility. 

3. How to become a recipient in a bank?

Answer : Just follow these 3 simple steps!

  • Step 1 : Consult your doctor first  when you decide to feed a baby with human milk from a donor and get a prescription.
  • Step 2 : Sign up as a recipient in a Breast milk bank.
  • Step 3 : Receive the sterilized and stored milk.

See that was pretty easy.

4. How do I store and transport breast milk, if I decide to donate?​

Answer : You can pump the milk and refrigerate it till you reach out the bank. You’ll need either glass or BPA-free plastic bottles or milk storage bags before you begin pumping and make sure you don’t overlook hygiene. Clean them and the breast pump regularly and thoroughly.

5. How much does donated breast milk cost?

Answer : This varies from bank to bank, but breast milk can cost anywhere between 200 INR to 300 INR per ounce. Some facilities also supply breast milk for free.

Your donation matters! There are always little ones who need your help. Give the gift of life and make a difference in their lives! Some women are already showing the way.

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4 Comments

  1. As someone who is going to be a new mother in a few months, I had so many questions regarding this topic – thank you for answering all my doubts!!!

  2. Hi. Just wanted to drop a comment. My friend forwarded this link to me. I have always struggled with over supply of breast milk and would always look for ways to “cure” it or find ways to reduce it.
    Thank you so much for writing this and spreading awareness especially for people like me ! I learned something new today. And it really isn’t a struggle but a gift. More people should be talking about this
    I didn’t think we had facilities like this in India!

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