Spreading the word about milk banking is essential to reaching mothers with extra breastmilk and educating the community about donor human milk. What better way to grab their attention than to be featured on the local news?
Lately, that's exactly what Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas has been doing. Several news stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have brought their cameras to MMBNT and shared our mission of serving premature and critically ill infants.
In November, Cynthia Izaguirre from WFAA Channel 8 filmed a story called "The Truth Behind Donated Breastmilk." As a mother of twins who were born prematurely, Cynthia had a personal connection to the story. She featured a milk donor, a recipient, a NICU nurse and our Executive Director Amy Vickers to educate her audience about milk banking. MMBNT was even featured during a live segment on WFAA's Facebook page.
Our mission reached the Spanish-speaking community as well. In January, reporter Carlos Zapata visited MMBNT and filmed a segment for the local Spanish news station, Telemundo 39. A donor and a recipient also shared their personal stories for the piece, which aired in February.
The coverage doesn't stop there. Fox 4's Jenny Anchondo recently interviewed a milk donor and Community Relations Director Amy Trotter for an upcoming story on Good Day, the network's morning show. A link to the story will be posted on the MMBNT Facebook page as soon as it airs.
Thanks to the help of enthusiastic and dedicated local reporters, MMBNT's mission is reaching more people all across North Texas. To watch the WFAA Channel 8 story, click here. To watch the Telemundo 39 story, click here.
Katie and Noah from Fayetteville, Arkansas, immediately faced challenges upon their introduction to parenthood. Their daughter, Annie, was severely growth restricted during pregnancy. The placenta was small and the umbilical cord wasn't attached properly, preventing Annie from receiving the nutrients she needed to grow.
The first-time parents were diligent during Katie's pregnancy, doing everything they could to prepare for their daughter's arrival. When they visited their specialist for a scheduled 36 week ultrasound, he informed them Annie hadn't grown and Katie needed to deliver soon - within the week. Katie's Ob-Gyn agreed, and the family headed to the hospital that same day.
The next morning, the medical team induced contractions, and by that afternoon Annie showed signs of distress. Unable to keep track of the heartbeat, they had Katie start pushing and Annie was born soon afterward. She was blue, the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck twice. The nurses immediately whisked her away to stabilize her.
Because of her small size, doctors struggled to determine Annie's actual gestational age and changed it several times. She was estimated to be 34 weeks at birth.
With Annie settled in the NICU after her premature arrival, Katie struggled to produce breastmilk. However, Katie and Noah knew there was a way to ensure their daughter received the nutrition she needed. Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas serves many hospitals in Arkansas, including the one where Annie was, and the NICU nurses offered donor milk to the family. And as a native of Fort Worth, Katie was already familiar with the milk bank in her hometown - in fact, a childhood friend worked there.
Annie received donor milk until Katie could supply her own breastmilk, protecting her from potential complications. "It was a huge blessing to us to be able to use donor milk until my milk came in," Katie said.
After a day, Annie was able to come off oxygen. Two weeks later, she had the lines removed where she was receiving extra nutrients. The NICU staff monitored her for a few more weeks, and after 5 and a half weeks in the NICU, Annie went home with her parents.
Today, Annie is a happy 4 month old, making strides every day. Her parents are grateful she received donor milk, giving her the best start to life. "Donor milk allowed her to have what was natural, and what she would have been receiving had we been able to go straight home and breastfeed," Katie said.
There are several ways donors transport their milk to Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, but dropping off at depots is arguably the most popular. Depots make it possible for mothers to be a part of MMBNT's mission, even if they don't live near our location in Fort Worth.
Depots are donation drop-off sites in the community that are staffed and equipped to safely store mothers' breastmilk donations until the milk can be transported to MMBNT for processing and dispensation. Located in hospitals and WIC clinics, they provide convenience for busy moms close to home. Each depot is equipped with a freezer, and employees work with MMBNT staff to maintain these freezers, provide educational materials to mothers and arrange transport of milk donations.
In total, there are 43 depots. Many of these are located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, providing options for milk donors who are in the Metroplex but still aren't within reasonable driving distance of MMBNT. The remaining depots are either located in other areas of Texas, such as the Panhandle and East Texas, or in states that don't have their own milk banks, like Arkansas and Georgia.
Milk from nearby depots is transported to MMBNT by courier. For those located further away, milk bank staff send overnight shipping materials to the depot. Depot staff can then safely package their donations to arrive at MMBNT the next day. Regardless of its delivery method, all milk stays frozen during transit and goes into a monitored freezer as soon as it arrives at MMBNT.
With the help of depots and their dedicated staff, MMBNT can connect with more mothers who want to help save the lives of fragile and premature infants.
Visit our website here to see a list of depot locations.
As a nurse, Sandi understands the value of breastmilk. When working a few shifts per month in her hospital's NICU, she spoke with moms about breastfeeding and donor milk. Sandi's work experience with critically ill babies coupled with the traumatic birth of her own son make her story unique.
Sandi's son Rich, now 3, spent four months in the NICU. He was born at 24 weeks due to Sandi's rapidly developing HELLP syndrome. He weighed just 15 ounces and measured 11 inches long at birth.
"We were terrified," Sandi says of her and her husband after Rich was born. "We had no idea if our son would survive and if he did, what kind of medial issues we would have to overcome."
A combination of stress, fear and pain contributed to Sandi's inability to produce breastmilk. When the neonatologists in the NICU offered donor milk as an option, the family gladly accepted. "I was so thankful for selfless women who donated their precious milk so that my son, and other critically ill babies, could have a fighting chance against NEC and other potentially fatal conditions," Sandi said.
Today, Rich is healthy and full of life, and enjoys going to preschool three days a week. He is also a big brother to 6 month-old August. August, too, spent time in the NICU after her birth at 37 weeks. Her stay was much shorter, though, and after three days she went home as scheduled with Sandi.
With August, Sandi says she felt like a natural at nursing. She knew this was her chance to become a milk donor and help others in a way that meant the world to her. After completing the donor screening process, she began to drop off her extra milk at her local depot, Outreach Health Services in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall.
Sandi has a wealth of breastfeeding and pumping advice for her fellow moms. She suggests doing anything you can to make pumping easier, including investing in a good, hands-free pumping bra and keeping healthy snacks accessible. Looking at photos or videos of your baby while pumping can help with let-down, and it's crucial to drink plenty of water - so she recommends buying fun and colorful cups to add some variety. For donors, she advises calling your local depot in advance to give the staff a heads up when you're dropping off a donation.
Donating breastmilk can make a world of difference for a medically fragile baby. To Sandi, donation is synonymous with life.
"I hope that my milk will contribute, in small part, to another family walking out of the NICU with their healthy baby," Sandi said. "I am so thankful for this opportunity and that things have finally come full circle for us."
Pumping: it's a big part of many breastfeeding moms' days. The pumping itself takes time, of course, but there are several other duties that go along with it. Storing the milk afterward, washing pump parts, traveling to and from work with all the parts, maintaining a routine while also caring for baby - the list goes on and on.
Mothers show their love for and dedication to their babies through pumping. It's not easy, but they do it to provide their children with the miraculous nourishment of breastmilk.
That's why January 27, World Breast Pumping Day, is such a welcome day of recognition. It's a day to applaud mothers for their supermom efforts, and let them know the world values what they do. At Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, we have much to be thankful for on World Breast Pumping Day.
Pumping mothers keep our milk bank running. They donate extra breastmilk they've pumped beyond their own babies' needs and donate it to MMBNT, allowing us to supply NICUs and outpatients across North Texas and even in other states with life-saving donor human milk. These selfless mothers change lives with each ounce they pump.
If there's a pumping mom in your life, show her some love on World Breast Pumping Day!