St. Mary’s offers donation center for breast milk
St. Mary’s Hospital is now a central hub for Western Colorado mothers to donate extra breast milk. The milk is used to feed neonatal intensive care unit babies who cannot tolerate formula, have weakened immune system or special dietary needs, as well as babies who are unable to receive milk from their mother.
“Using formula is a last resort for us,” said Charlotte Balerio, St. Mary’s Medical Center’s childbirth coordinator and educator. “Milk donation is an unique gift only a mother can give.”
Since it’s opening on Aug. 4, the donation center has received more than 1,000 ounces of milk.
Balerio explained one ounce can feed a NICU baby. Mothers who have had premature babies are often unable to provide milk for their child due to the mother’s development, so the hospital relies on donated milk as opposed to using formula.
“A little goes a long way, especially for small babies,” she said.
Human milk has dozens of extra benefits compared to formulated milk. Donor milk also reduces digestive tract issues by 79 percent in babies.
“Studies have shown breast milk is the best,” Balerio said. “It is healing for babies, it helps them with allergies and its economical.”
HOW IT WORKS
Women who have extra milk are encouraged to visit http://www.rmchildren.org and register as a donor. From there, mothers will be pre-screened and checked for HIV, Hepatitis, and other diseases. Once the blood is drawn, women can begin donating the milk. Once ready, donors can drop off the milk to Balerio when it’s convenient and she will ship to Denver to be pasteurized. From there, the milk is sent all over the country.
“It’s to provide a convenience for moms,” Balerio said. “Moms who donate sometimes feel they want to give back if they received donated milk when they had their baby.”
Colorado law now mandates women who return to workforce have a private space to pump during breaks. Balerio explained Colorado supports moms who return to work, as its beneficial for mom to continue working and seem to be happier at work when able to work and breast-feed their child.
For more information, visit http://www.stmarygj.org.
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