Mon, 11/28/2016 - 7:14 pm
Kristin and Tommy
Kristin and Tommy

For Kristin, the journey of motherhood has included both joy and sadness along the way. Her first child, Tommy, was born just before her own 18th birthday, and from that moment she knew she was always meant to be a mom. With Kristin’s husband Curtis in the Navy, the family moved along the East coast as they grew. They welcomed two more sons, Derrick and Teddy, before settling in South Carolina.

Soon after moving to South Carolina, Kristin learned she was pregnant. However, the pregnancy ended at 18 weeks after the baby, their fourth son, entangled himself in his cord. For Kristin, that was her rock bottom. Four years later, the family welcomed a rainbow baby, Joelle. Kristin calls being pregnant after a loss “a harrowing affair”.

Curtis, Teddy, and Derrick
Curtis, Teddy, and Derrick

“You have such a hard time not comparing and trying to find joy in something that you are so afraid is going to end in heartbreak,” she said.

Today, Joelle is a happy, healthy 17 month old. As Kristin started pumping and storing milk for her, she realized she had more than enough to feed Joelle and began to research milk donation. One of her friends, a NICU nurse, guided Kristin toward Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. Despite living beyond the borders of the Lone Star State, she found the right fit with MMBNT. MMBNT’s donor coordinators send her all the materials she needs to safely ship her milk overnight.

Joelle
Joelle

Kristin sees milk donation as a duty. “If I have milk and someone else needs it, and all it causes me is a little time management, then it would be selfish of me not to share,” she said.

When it comes to advice, Kristin recommends freezing milk bags flat in order to maximize storage space. Additionally, she encourages moms to stick to a pumping schedule, which helped her regulate her own supply. Regardless of the method, though, milk that is pumped for donation will be a gift to a baby in need.

“It’s heartwarming to know that something I have an abundance of means the world to someone else,” Kristin said.

To learn more about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.

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Tue, 11/22/2016 - 7:37 pm
Quinn and Elliott
Quinn (left) and Elliott (right)

For Robyn, milk donation has become a part of her regular routine. She stepped into her role as a milk donor after her daughter, Elliott, was born and she produced more milk than Elliott needed. Though some suggested she sell her milk, Robyn was moved by the idea of donating to a nonprofit milk bank and found Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas through online research.

“To me, there’s something special about knowing that it’s being used by babies who specifically depend on breastmilk and don’t have other options,” Robyn said.

Robyn’s milk supply quickly took over her family’s freezer space, to the point that she purchased a deep freezer exclusively for milk storage. She donated 100 ounces for every month that Elliott nursed. After nine months, Robyn got pregnant again and her production decreased. With the birth of her son Quinn and the return of her supply, she decided to become a donor for the second time.

Milk from one pumping session
Robyn's milk from one pumping session.

There is a method to Robyn’s pumping, storing and donating system. Much of her pumping is done at work, where she’s created a setup to make it as convenient as possible. She stores a baseline amount of milk at home for daycare and traveling, and once she’s built up her supply over that amount, she drops her donations off at the depot near her office.

As a second-time breastfeeder, Robyn is taking advantage of the opportunity to improve her organization. She tries to make sure every milk bag or bottle is either 10 ounces or is equal to one serving for her son to make it easier to count, and to ensure that milk isn’t being wasted when thawed. While this makes feeding her son easier, it also is an efficient way to keep track of the amount she’s donating.

Being a donor mom is a meaningful experience for Robyn, and it’s a selfless act that helps so many in both North Texas and beyond. “It’s a really incredible feeling to know that I’m helping babies survive,” she said.

For more information about becoming a donor, click here.

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Tue, 11/15/2016 - 8:47 pm
Liam in the NICU
Liam in the NICU

Premature birth may be less common today than it was in the past, but it is still a major health problem. In the United States, it is the leading killer of newborns, and preemies are at risk for additional health problems throughout their lives. To bring attention to this widespread issue, the March of Dimes recognizes World Prematurity Day each year on November 17.

Donor milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas nourishes the most fragile infants, most of whom are preemies. In honor of World Prematurity Day, below is a previously posted blog article about Liam, a former donor milk recipient, and his mother who he inspired to become a milk donor herself:

Liam in the NICU
Liam in the NICU

A long journey to wellness began for baby Liam after his premature arrival at 26 weeks, weighing 1 pound, 14 ounces. His parents, Cereena and Austin, describe him as a "true warrior", battling and overcoming a common yet serious intestinal infection called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC).

Admitted to Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Liam was treated with antibiotics and fortified donor breastmilk. Like a lot of moms of preemies, Cereena's milk supply wasn't adequate after giving birth so early. Liam's neonatologist prescribed donor milk and explained that premature babies need breastmilk to provide proper nutrients and prevent life-threatening complications. Liam gained weight and won the battle.

Over time, Cereena ended up pumping more milk than Liam needed and decided to become a donor. “I wanted to provide milk for the babies who need it most and reduce any worry or stress for those mothers who try very hard to produce breastmilk, but can't,” she said.

Liam family collage
Liam with mom, Cereena and dad, Austin

Cereena learned about MMBNT from Dr. Susan Sward-Comunelli, Liam’s neonatologist, who helped found the non-profit organization in 2004. She describes the donor approval process as "thorough yet easy".

"The paperwork was minimal but they asked important questions; things that I would want to know as a mother whose child would receive donor milk,” Cereena said. “The best part is knowing that all donors have their blood screened."

For Cereena and Austin, donating milk is a way to give back, knowing others helped Liam recover.  Cereena explains, "All you want to do is protect and provide for your child and breastmilk can do both."

For more information about becoming a donor, click here.

Tue, 11/08/2016 - 2:47 pm
Desire's family
Desire, Julian and Julian Jr.

2016 will always be a year to remember for Desire. She and her husband celebrated both a wedding and the birth of Julian Jr., their first child. Julian entered the world at 37 weeks due to Desire’s preeclampsia.

Initially, breastfeeding did not come easy for Desire and little Julian. While she struggled to produce enough milk, he struggled to latch. Desire also had thrush twice during this time. Just when she felt like giving up, Desire decided to try pumping so she could bottle feed her son with her breastmilk. She began to pump every two hours in an attempt to build a supply of milk.

“After two months I began overproducing, and did not realize it until I was filling up two freezers full of milk,” Desire said. While studying to receive her master’s degree in social work, Desire has been exposed to the world of infant nutrition and knows that some mothers are unable to produce breastmilk for their own children. Realizing she had more than enough milk for Julian, she searched for a place to donate and found Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas.

Desire and Julian
Desire and Julian

Desire recently dropped off her first donation of 570 ounces to her local depot. She says it is a great feeling to be able to produce enough milk not only for her son, but for other babies in need.

From firsthand experience, Desire knows that both nursing and pumping come with challenges. She encourages other moms to stick with it, though, because it does become easier with time. “It pays off when you see your child thriving off your breastmilk,” she said.

Perseverance and dedication to helping others is a major factor for many donor moms like Desire. Babies in need in both North Texas and beyond are given a fighting chance thanks to Desire and her fellow donor moms. With their help, more babies will be able to survive and thrive.

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

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Mon, 10/31/2016 - 7:46 pm
Pasteurized milk in 100mL and 200mL bottles

Last week's blog, "Why We Pasteurize", was the second article in a reposted three-part series that addresses frequently-asked questions in milk banking. Today's post explains the who, what and why related to donor milk, costs and processing fees.

 

Who We Are

Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas is a nonprofit milk bank located in Fort Worth's medical district. There are no owners or investors profiting from our donated milk. Because milk is donated, we do not charge for the milk itself, only for the processing fees incurred to ensure donor milk is safe for critically ill infants. We are very proud of our ability to keep costs low and charge only what is needed to continue to provide life-saving donor human milk for the babies who need it to survive.

 

What We Charge

Most nonprofit milk banks charge $4.00 to $5.50 per ounce. At MMBNT, we assess a processing fee of $4.40 per ounce, which does not cover all operating expenses. We rely on the generosity of individual donations and charitable funders to supplement our costs.

 

Why We Charge

Processing safe milk for sick babies is expensive. Our fees pay for the operating costs and expenses of providing safe donor milk for sick babies, which includes:

  1. Donor screening
  2. Blood testing of potential donors for multiple diseases, including HIV
  3. Lab testing of milk
  4. Pasteurization
  5. Packaging
  6. Storage
MMBNT outpatient Liam
Liam, one of MMBNT's recipients

 

Who We Charge

For hospitalized babies, the NICU orders the milk and the hospital pays the processing fees just like they pay for blood, medication and nutritional supplements. Donor milk is only a small part of the treatment for preemies in the NICU.

For sick babies at home with a medical need for donor milk, costs are paid by Medicaid or private insurance. Our charitable care program ensures that a baby is never turned away based on the family's ability to pay processing fees. In 2015, MMBNT provided $526,390 of charitable care. Most of these families had no insurance, had reached their policy's lifetime maximum or had other situations preventing insurance reimbursement. Those we served included babies with HIV issues, feeding tubes, heart defects, severe bowel malformations and those awaiting organ transplants. Babies are prioritized based on their medical condition, not their ability to pay.

 

A Little Milk Goes a Long Way

Eighty percent of the babies we serve are tiny preemies in the NICU who require a very small, but important, volume of milk. The total cost to feed these babies is as little as $7.00 per day.

 

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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