When babies arrive one of the most critical things they need is a mother's milk. Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Birth Centers are making sure all newborns get the nourishment they need.
Newborns like Bethany are benefiting from the program. She came into the world two months ago as a healthy, pink, little bundle, but she needed a little boost.
"When she was born she wasn't latching on properly and she was having a hard time eating, and she just needed more time for her to figure things out," mom Ashley Hansen said.
Ashley's milk hadn't come in yet so nurses at Froedtert Birth Center in Menomonee Falls asked if she minded if Bethany had donor milk.
"It was a great opportunity for us; I don't even think I questioned it," Ashley said.
The hospital gets donor milk from the Mother's Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.
"80% of our milk is dispensed to hospitals," said Nicole Robbins, education and outreach specialist for the Mother's Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. "A majority of that goes to high-level NICUs where they're very fragile infants." The other 20% goes to outpatient.
Robbins helps hospitals like Froedtert set up donor milk programs.
"Each donor goes through a rigorous screening process that includes blood testing. It can take up to two to three weeks."
Moms who donate milk usually have an oversupply or perhaps they lost their child. That milk is what's best for babies, according to registered nurse and board certified lactation consultant Regina Hirt.
"Mom's milk is first, but pasteurized donor milk is really what is the preferred next step as opposed to going right to formula," Hirt said.
The hospital stores donated milk in a refrigerator and freezer in the Birth Center. They simply thaw it out whenever they need it.
Hirt noted, "A four ounce bottle can actually serve a couple of babies, not just one baby, which is really neat."
Robbins said the milk bank is highly-regulated and is similar to a blood bank.
"Each donor goes through a rigorous screening process that includes blood testing and then as soon as the milk gets to the milk bank it is pasteurized and also tested for bacteria."
So for moms like Ashley, there's no fear the milk isn't safe.
"If it's my milk or someone else's milk, it makes no difference- fed is fed. And she needed that energy in order for her to start nursing and so that helped us really bridge the gap."
The Birth Center at Froedtert Menomonee Falls is getting ready to become a milk depot where registered donors can drop off milk. There will be a ribbon cutting for that next month.
Click here to visit the Mother's Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Birth Centers have partnered with TODAY'S TMJ4 for the TMJ4 Community Baby Shower. It's Friday, Jan. 24th.
Drop off any new baby items like diapers, wipes, blankets, toys, clothes and formula, at any Sentry store or the TODAY'S TMJ4 studios.