Mon, 02/06/2017 - 3:04 pm
Victoria's family in the hospital
The family during their time in the hospital

James and Victoria’s twin daughters, Caroline and Elizabeth, made their debut at 30 weeks. The girls had twin to twin transfusion syndrome, which had not been detected in an ultrasound, so their premature arrival was a blessing in disguise. “They were safer in the NICU’s hands than in the womb at that point,” Victoria said.

Caroline and Elizabeth received donor milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas for about a week until Victoria had a sufficient supply. Her supply turned into a surplus, as her milk filled up the family’s multiple freezers. Despite the space issue, she had to keep pumping in order to maintain her supply for when the twins were released from the NICU.

Victoria's milk in the depot freezer
Victoria's milk in the depot freezer

With more than enough milk to spare, Victoria contacted MMBNT about becoming a donor. After completing the donor screening process, she started taking donations to her nearest depot, Texas Health Harris Southwest. She’s been able to drop off directly at MMBNT as well, giving her the chance to see milk processing in action.

Victoria enjoys being able to give back to others through the unique way of milk donation. “It is a gift I have been given and my calling is to spread the wealth,” she said.

However, breastfeeding has been a team effort for the family. Victoria remembers when Caroline and Elizabeth were in the NICU, and how she and James felt helpless. They felt like the only thing they could control was milk production – Victoria pumped, while James cleaned pump parts, supplied her with food and water while she pumped, and offered emotional support through the tough times.

Caroline and Elizabeth
Caroline and Elizabeth at 5 months old

“Without his support and the support of the rest of my family, I would have never been able to succeed at breastfeeding,” Victoria said.

Today, Caroline and Elizabeth are 6 months old, enjoying life at home with mom and dad, and Victoria has donated nearly 1,000 ounces of milk so far. She is happy to share her liquid gold with those who need it, just like other moms did for her daughters.

For more information about becoming a donor, click here.

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Mon, 02/06/2017 - 2:27 pm
Allison's family
Allison's family

Being active in the community is important to the staff at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. It helps people learn about the MMBNT mission, and moms who are over-producing breastmilk can discover the life-saving power of their extra liquid gold.

In fact, a community connection is how Allison found the milk bank. As a member of the Junior League of Fort Worth, she learned about MMBNT through the League’s program that assigns members to local volunteer projects.

While Allison was not assigned to an MMBNT project, she still became familiar with milk donation and milk banking. She produced extra breastmilk after giving birth to her son Alexander and decided to donate.

“I had a surplus with my first son, William, but regretted not donating,” Allison said. “So, I decided I would this time!”

Allison's rows of milk in her freezer
Allison's freezer rows

The donation process has been a convenient one for Allison. William attends preschool near MMBNT, so she is able to stop by with her donations while she is already in the area. Keeping her freezer stash organized and following a routine improves the experience as well.

Allison attributes her strong supply to pumping right after her nursing sessions. She freezes the pumped milk flat in storage bags, then once the bags are frozen, she stands them upright and stores them in rows in the freezer. When all the milk space in her freezer is full, she takes one to two rows to donate. While it did take some time to adjust to a nursing and pumping schedule, she says it was well worth having a full freezer.

“I love knowing I’m helping babies in need,” Allison said.

For more information about becoming a milk donor, click here.

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Wed, 02/01/2017 - 3:02 pm
Pumping photo collage submitted by Alyssa P.
Submitted by Alyssa P.

Pumping is a selfless act, requiring precious time and dedication. One of the many important parts of the process is cleaning the breast pump. Proper cleaning helps prevent bacteria contamination, and it helps create a more efficient process.

When a mom pumps, she takes on a repetitive routine of pumping, labeling and freezing. While adding cleaning to the mix may seem monotonous, it is an important step to prevent contamination and make things easier in the long run. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a great resource for breast pump information, and features a page dedicated to breast pump cleaning.

Pumped breastmilk
A donor's milk after pumping.

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) also has recommended cleaning guidelines, which are reposted here from a previous blog post:

1.       Wash hands well.

2.       Disassemble the pump kit.

3.       Rinse pump parts with cool water before washing with hot water to remove milk protein residue. Residue can adhere to surfaces and provide a place for bacteria to grow.

4.       Wash with warm soapy water. Some rinsed pieces can be cleaned in the upper rack of a dishwasher. To minimize the risk of contaminating pump parts with bacteria, they should not be placed in a sink, but washed in a separate bowl of clean water.

5.       Rinse thoroughly.

6.       Drip dry on a clean paper towel.

For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.

 

Wed, 01/25/2017 - 6:06 pm
Lindsey runs sample in nutritional analyzer
Lab supervisor Lindsey runs a sample in the nutritional analyzer.

In the pasteurization lab at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, accuracy and attention to detail are essential to processing donor human milk. One main step in the process is nutritional analysis, which helps staff determine how to classify the milk.

After milk is thawed and mixed, a sample of each individual donor’s milk is tested. The analyzer evaluates macronutrient content using an automated full-spectrum laser spectroscopy, which is calibrated to USDA standards. These calibrations are designed specifically for human milk. The analysis measures fat, protein, and lactose for each donor’s milk.

These measurements are used to determine how milk can be pooled. After each pool has been pasteurized, a sample is once again analyzed to determine the final macronutrient content and the calories per ounce. Hospitals use this information to ensure the babies they treat are receiving the proper calories and nutrients to grow.

Nutritional analysis provides vital information for both MMBNT and hospital staff. With this information, critically ill infants can receive the nourishment they need from donor human milk.

For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 7:31 pm
Carmen's Tree

Moms have a variety of reasons for choosing to become milk donors. Oftentimes, a mom produces more milk than her own baby needs and decides to help others with her oversupply. However, there are many moms who donate after the loss of their own baby.

Faced with tremendous grief, these mothers often have to address the process of lactation as well. Childbirth stimulates hormones that tell your body to make milk, even after a loss. Donating this milk in memory of a child can become part of the healing process.

“It helps them cope with their loss,” Samantha Suarez, MMBNT donor coordinator, said. “They are helping other moms who are not able to provide breastmilk to their own babies.”

Close-up of leaves on Carmen's Tree

At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, these babies are honored on Carmen’s Tree. Located in the lobby, Carmen’s Tree is named after the baby of MMBNT’s first bereaved donor, Angela Mendoza. Each leaf on the tree bears the name and birth date of a baby whose mother donated in their memory. Additionally, each family receives a matching leaf.

“Carmen’s Tree gives donors something to look back on and honor what they’ve done by donating through their loss,” Samantha said.

Each person who passes through the doors at MMBNT sees this special memorial and is reminded of the selfless gift these mothers have given. It is a constant reminder of the strength of these donors and their ability to help others even after a tragic loss of their own. The MMBNT family is thankful for these donors and all that they do to help babies in need.

For more information about becoming a donor, click here.

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