Banked Human Milk Program

Saint Barnabas Medical Center offers a human milk depot in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast for babies in the newborn nursery and the neonatal intensive care unit. Mothers who are nursing and producing more milk than they need can give other babies a chance to receive breast milk when their mothers cannot provide it for them. Carefully screened donors are now able to conveniently drop their milk off at Saint Barnabas Medical Center.

All babies benefit from human milk, but for medically fragile or premature infants, breastmilk is even more critical. It may take several days for a new mother to produce enough milk to meet the baby’s needs, and the antibodies in breast milk will help protect a baby, full-term and premature, from infection and help the baby grow. In times when a mother is unable to provide enough of her own milk, the next best option is pasteurized breast milk.

Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes health history, physician approval, and a blood test. These are some of the many measures taken to ensure the safety of milk for the fragile premature and sick babies served by the milk bank and the hospitals that use the milk. Milk from mothers who pass the screening is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety

How to become a donor:

  • Visit the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast website, milkbankne.org/donate, then call 617-527-6263 x3 to get started
  • Complete the phone screening, health forms and blood test
  • Start pumping and freezing your milk!
  • The milk bank also accepts previously frozen milk, up to 6–7 months after the pump date

Where to drop off your milk:

  • Once your screening is complete, call the WARM LINE at 973-322-5684 to drop off your frozen milk at Saint Barnabas Medical Center
  • A member of our team will meet you in the main lobby for a quick and convenient drop off

Information for Parents on Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM)

Why is my baby being offered this treatment?

Mother’s own milk is the best nutrition and protection from infection. In times when a mother is unable to provide enough of her own milk, Saint Barnabas Medical Center uses PDHM as an option. While you are building your own milk supply, your doctor may want to give your baby PDHM from Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE). Other mothers donate their milk to MMBNE, so that babies like yours can have human milk until enough of your own milk has come in.

What is Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM)?

MMBNE pools together breastmilk from several different donor mothers in each batch. Donor mothers undergo a detailed health screen and the milk is pasteurized to protect your baby against viruses and bacteria. When mother’s milk is not available, heat-treated donor milk is considered a better choice than formula because:

  • Human milk is digested well and feedings can be increased more quickly
  • Human milk protects babies against infections
  • Donated milk is heat-treated (pasteurized) and tested in a laboratory before being frozen and shipped to Saint Barnabas Medical Center

Where does PDHM come from?

PDHM is used at many hospitals and is obtained from a certified milk bank that is approved by the Human Milk Banking Association of North American (HMBANA).

Donors are lactating mothers with extra milk who:

  • Have been screened for lifestyle factors
  • Are non-smokers
  • Are only taking approved medications
  • Donors are not paid for their milk

How do I know PDHM is safe?

Each donor mother is screened very carefully with phone interviews, written health forms, notes from her doctor and her baby’s doctor about their health, and a blood test for Hepatitis B and C, syphilis, HTLV, and HIV.

Donor milk is pasteurized using the Holder Method. This process heats the milk to 62.5 Celsius (144.5 Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes. The heat kills bacteria and viruses. After pasteurization each batch is tested to ensure it has no bacteria in it. The milk is then frozen and stored until distribution to hospitals. Any milk with bacteria in it is discarded and not given to babies.

After discharge if you would like to order PDHM, we will help you contact the milk bank to order milk on your own.

If you have any questions or need further information, please speak with your health care provider.

Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast
377 Elliot Street
Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464
milkbankne.org
Main # 617-527-6263 x3

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