Mon, 10/17/2016 - 4:05 pm

While milk banking is a long-standing and established practice, many people have questions about it and about how a milk bank operates. For the next three weeks, we’ll re-publish articles that answer the most frequently-asked questions we receive.

Part I – Breastmilk & Bacteria

Part II – Why We Pasteurize

Part III –Milk & Money


Bacteria Benefits Healthy Babies

Milk straight from the breast is not pasteurized and naturally contains many bacteria. It is important to know that bacteria are rarely harmful to a mother’s own healthy-term newborn or even a mother’s fragile baby in the NICU.  In fact, bacteria is beneficial in most circumstances. A mother and her nursing baby create a “closed-loop system” in which antibodies in her milk protect her baby from harmful organisms in her baby’s environment.


Eliminating Bacteria Ensures Safety for Preemies and Sick Infants

At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we serve the tiniest, sickest preemies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs), most with severely compromised immune systems.  Unpasteurized milk donated from another mother can potentially have organisms that could make these babies ill. Therefore, donor milk is safely pasteurized to destroy these bacteria. 

Donor milk being poured into 100mL bottles


Pasteurized Donor Milk Saves Little Lives

A mother’s milk is best for her own baby. However, many mothers of preemies are unable to establish a milk supply in time for the important early feedings to begin. Donor human milk can bridge the gap for a short time until the mother’s milk supply comes in, while in other cases, babies rely exclusively on it for longer periods of time. Every case is unique, and donor human milk can be lifesaving when the mother’s own milk is not available.


Donor Milk Can Help Healthy Babies, Too

Sometimes, there is enough donor milk available to serve healthy babies if the mother’s lactation is delayed. Like any medically needy outpatient, these “elective use” outpatients require a prescription for donor milk which is written for a short term supply immediately following discharge from the hospital. Receiving donor milk can reduce the stress for these mothers, which is important while they work on their own milk production.


While every baby can benefit from human milk, it is important to appropriate donor milk where it can do the most good for the most babies. At Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, we are so very grateful to the donor mothers willing to share their milk with these precious babies that have so much to lose without it.

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

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Fri, 10/07/2016 - 1:56 pm
Alli and Sadie
Alli (left) and Sadie

Katie is a mom to two daughters, Alli and Sadie. Her first breastfeeding experience with Alli was difficult – she struggled to produce enough milk, and because of a painful lip/tongue tie, she and Alli could not nurse. When Katie and Sadie began their breastfeeding journey, though, the situation was quite different and she produced more than Sadie needed.

Because Katie could relate to moms who couldn’t produce their own milk, she was inspired to become a milk donor. She discovered Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas through a Facebook group and soon began the donor screening process. “The process was simple, yet thorough,” Katie said.

Katie and Kevin
Katie and her husband, Kevin.

Since becoming a donor, Katie has donated 1,117 ounces of breastmilk to MMBNT. Her local depot, Texas Health Harris Methodist HEB, makes it easy to donate close to home. And while breastfeeding moms do develop routines, Katie says she feels like she learns something new every week.

Storage is often something to consider when freezing extra milk, and Katie recommends using an extra deep freezer – either your own or one that belongs to a nearby friend or family member. “Having an extra freezer helped with milk storage immensely,” she said. She also advises delivering milk donations in grocery sacks so they can be quickly unloaded and dropped off at a depot.

Milk donation is vital for premature and critically ill infants, but it’s also beneficial for the mothers who struggle to provide milk for their own children. Having experienced that struggle herself, Katie is grateful to be able to help babies and other moms like her.

Sadie and Alli
Sadie (left) and Alli

“It brings me so much joy to know that the milk God has gifted me with is providing life to babies all around the Metroplex,” Katie said.

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

Wed, 10/05/2016 - 1:12 pm
Luncheon table setup

Medical professionals, community supporters, donor moms and recipients all gathered to celebrate another year of milk banking at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas’ 12th anniversary luncheon last week at Ridglea Country Club. The theme, A Dozen Reasons for a Dozen Years, honored donor milk recipients and featured the great strides made in their health due to receiving milk.

Ashley Robbins Gonzales, President of the Board of Directors, started the program by recognizing all sponsors, board members and members of the milk bank family. Executive Director Amy Vickers spoke about the milk bank’s progress in the past year, as well as milestones that have been achieved since opening in 2004. Additionally, she featured two recipient success stories.

Raffle table

Donor mom and NEC Society founder Jennifer Canvasser took the stage after Amy to share her story. She spoke about her twins, Micah and Zachary, who were born premature and the struggles Micah faced after birth. After Micah lost his battle with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), Jennifer was inspired to start the NEC Society.

Luncheon attendees also enjoyed a raffle filled with gift baskets and prizes, from restaurant gift cards to jewelry to fitness class passes. The luncheon also brought back a milk bank favorite: the bundt cake lottery. Attendees entered a donation-based drawing for a chance to win the bundt cakes decorating their tables.

Jennifer Canvasser, Amy Vickers, Ashley Robbins Gonzales
Jennifer Canvasser, Amy Vickers, Ashley Robbins Gonzales

Funds raised at the luncheon benefit the Milk Money Fund, a charitable care program that ensures all babies with a medical necessity receive donor milk, regardless of the family’s ability to cover processing fees. This year’s event will help the milk bank continue to help babies thrive on donor milk.

Thank you to everyone who made the 12th anniversary luncheon a success!

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

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Wed, 09/28/2016 - 6:55 pm
Baby in NICU

Breastmilk is often referred to as “liquid gold”, due to its unique immunological properties and the positive effects it can have on babies. Its benefits are widely recognized in the medical world, particularly for preterm or critically ill infants.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states the benefits are so great that all preterm infants should receive human milk, and when a mother’s own milk is not available, donor milk should be used. Additionally, the Canadian Pediatric Society (CPS) says that “human breast milk provides a bioactive matrix of benefits that cannot be replicated by any other source of nutrition.”

Pasteurization of donor milk
Donor milk is pasteurized before being sent to hospitals.

Babies who are fed an all-breastmilk diet can see reduced risks of several diseases. One of these is necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a bowel disease that can cause parts of the intestines to die and need to be surgically removed.

NEC affects 5,000 babies in the U.S. and Canada every year, and approximately 500 of them die from the disease. It is the #2 killer of premature babies and the #10 killer of all babies. However, using an all-breastmilk diet can reduce the risk of NEC by 79 percent.

Jennifer Canvasser, a Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas donor mom, lost one of her sons, Micah, to NEC. She then founded the NEC Society, which seeks to protect premature infants from the disease. The NEC Society is made up of healthcare practitioners, researchers and families and focuses on research, raising awareness and advocating for those affected.

Jennifer and Micah
Jennifer and Micah

At MMBNT, we are excited to feature Jennifer as our guest speaker at our 12th anniversary luncheon. As both a donor mom and a health advocate, she brings a unique perspective to the world of milk banking. We are looking forward to hearing her important message and sharing it with all our guests.

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

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Wed, 09/21/2016 - 5:24 pm
Pasteurized milk bottles

While Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas is a vital part of caring for critically ill infants today, 12 years ago it was just getting started. Before the establishment of MMBNT, local neonatologists utilized donor milk from other milk banks in neonatal intensive care units. It soon became clear that North Texas needed its own milk bank to meet the demand for donor milk in the area.

Dr. Susan Sward-Comunelli, a Fort Worth neonatologist, organized a group of child health advocates to support the establishment of a local milk bank. This group believed in serving babies with donor milk from this community and others across North Texas.

Entrance to MMBNT

Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas dispensed its first batch of milk in the fall of 2004. In 2004, MMBNT dispensed 4,155 ounces to premature and critically ill infants. Steady growth meant that the milk bank outgrew its first location within Fort Worth’s Child Study Center. To accommodate the increasing amount of milk both received and dispensed, MMBNT moved to its current location on West Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth in 2011.

With each year, MMBNT has continued to serve more babies in need. In 2015, 552,761 ounces were dispensed, and the milk bank is on track for more growth in 2016. So far, 2016 has welcomed 520 new donor moms and 5 new milk collection sites, or depots.

“The future is very bright at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas,” Amy Vickers, Executive Director, said. “Our staff is passionate about helping premature and critically ill infants, and strives to serve more every year. We are excited about our growth and furthering our special mission of saving tiny, precious lives.”

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

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