BATH – Soft Corner Midwifery announces the grand opening of the third outpatient donor milk dispensary in Maine in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast collects milk from parents who have more milk than their babies need; screens, pasteurizes, and tests the milk; then dispenses it to babies whose parents do not have enough milk for them. Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes health history, physician or midwife approval, and a blood test. Milk from donors who pass the screening is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety before being dispensed to hospitals, dispensaries, or families.
By opening a donor milk dispensary, Soft Corner Midwifery is on the leading edge of organizations providing access to donor milk in the community. The importance of providing human milk for the health of birthing people and infants is well-established, with all major medical and public health organizations endorsing chest/breastfeeding. Use of donor milk supports this in the long run. When a baby requires supplementation in the early days after birth, research shows that families tend to view donor milk as a temporary bridge and formula as a long-term solution. Therefore, having donor milk available at community locations like a dispensary can be an essential component in improving human milk feeding rates for families who have that goal. A human milk diet for babies has been definitively linked to extensive health benefits for babies including lower rates of certain cancers and diseases, lower rates of obesity, and improved neurodevelopment.
A donor milk dispensary is a community location where a family whose baby has a prescription can obtain donor milk for use at home. Currently, babies at many Maine hospitals can receive donor milk while in the hospital. In the community setting, if a baby needs donor milk, a dispensary is a convenient and important local option. Dispensaries make donor milk easier to access while the maternal milk supply is developing.
“A donor milk dispensary is a forward-thinking and innovative way to promote health and ensure that as many babies as possible have access to human milk,” commented Deborah Youngblood, CEO for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. “We are grateful to Soft Corner for opening a dispensary and making donor milk more available to Maine families.”
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast is a nonprofit community milk bank accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). The milk bank has been screening donors, pasteurizing milk, and dispensing to over 100 hospitals and to families throughout Maine and the Northeastern United States since 2011.
In addition to working with hospitals around Maine and New England, Mothers’ Milk also serves outpatients (i.e., babies who are well enough to be cared for at home) throughout Maine. Very often, outpatient families are using donor milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast as a form of supplementation – typically because mom’s milk supply is still developing. For outpatients, orders can be placed online.
For added convenience, Mothers’ Milk has both donor milk dispensaries (where families can pick up milk for their babies) and donor milk depots (where approved milk donors can drop off their donation) throughout Maine.
The dispensaries are in Portland, Lewiston and Bath, and the depots are in Portland, Bath, Lewiston, Damariscotta, Bangor and Rockport.
Families and healthcare providers seeking more information on receiving or donating milk can check the milk bank’s website at milkbankne.org. For more information and to schedule a donor milk order online with Soft Corner Midwifery at softcornermidwifery.com/milk-bank.