While breastfeeding has countless benefits for both mom and baby alike, there is still work to be done to raise awareness and promote it around the world. That’s why every year, August is all about breastfeeding.
The month kicks off with World Breastfeeding Week, held August 1-7. This week is coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action and this year's theme "celebrates working together for the common good, which produces sustainable results, greater than the sum of our individual efforts."
The Big Latch On takes place annually during World Breastfeeding Week and is one of the week’s most well-recognized efforts. Hosts organize hundreds of Big Latch On events around the world, where moms gather to celebrate breastfeeding and latch their children all at the same time. Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas is sponsoring the local Big Latch On in Fort Worth, taking place August 5.
Recognition of breastfeeding doesn’t end after the first week of the month. The United States Breastfeeding Committee declares the whole month of August as National Breastfeeding Month and works to “build a landscape of breastfeeding support.” This includes social media outreach, facilitating conversations and building support for policy and practice changes regarding breastfeeding.
Mothers who want to donate their excess breastmilk can drop off their donations at the hospital’s Special Care Nursery on the 6th floor of the Jackson Building, located at 8200 Walnut Hill Ln. They will need to press the call button by the door to receive assistance from a nurse.
Special Care Nursery staff will securely store the milk before sending it to MMBNT in Fort Worth for pasteurization and shipment to critically ill infants. Donations are accepted 7 days a week at all hours, except during shift change from 6 to 7:30 a.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m.
"Texas Health Dallas has come full circle helping fragile infants," lactation nurse Nancy Kelley said. "Not only do we utilize donor human milk for babies in our NICU, we can now conveniently accept donations from moms in our Special Care Nursery. It's where many babies go after they have been in the NICU."
MMBNT collects donor human milk from more than 40 donation sites, or depots, throughout North Texas and surrounding areas. Texas Health Dallas is one of five depots in Dallas.
Milk bank staff screen all potential milk donors through medical histories and blood tests. Once approved, donors freeze the extra milk their own babies don’t need and take it to a depot close to home.
When milk arrives at MMBNT, staff log it into a computer barcode and tracking system. It then undergoes processing, which includes thawing, nutritional analysis, pasteurization and bacterial testing.
Donor human milk is the standard of care for premature infants without access to mother’s own milk who have severe feeding problems, intestinal malformations and life-threatening complications such as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Eighty percent of MMBNT’s donor milk serves babies in hospital NICUs, while 20 percent serves medically needy babies at home.
Those who are interested in becoming donors can start the process by calling MMBNT at (817) 810-0071. To speak to someone at Texas Health Dallas's depot, call the lactation department at (214) 345-2557.
Ashley is a jack of all trades at Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. As one of the newest members of the MMBNT staff, she quickly adjusted to the team mentality of the office and works in several different areas of the organization. It’s only been four months since Ashley started, but she knew it would be a good fit right from the beginning.
“My sons spent 10 days in the NICU and I breastfed them because I had done tons of research on the benefits,” Ashley said. “When I came across the milk bank, I knew it was a cause I could get behind 110 percent.”
During a typical day, Ashley has a variety of duties. She screens potential milk donors and works with existing donors who have questions or may need assistance, and she also manages the outpatient donor milk recipients. When she's away from her desk, she can be found packing orders or logging in new milk donations. All of this combines to make what Ashley considers to be the most rewarding job she's ever had.
The members of the MMBNT family can all agree that there is something special about working for this organization, and Ashley is just the same. “MMBNT is special to me because it’s a community of women supporting one another, even if they’ve never met each other and because of that, babies are genuinely receiving the best possible start to life!”
Her personal experience in the NICU with her twin boys, Ethan and Elijah, sheds light on the importance of milk banking as well.
"Moms who have babies in the NICU are experiencing an overload of emotion already and if they can't supply what their baby needs, it can be devastating. Having donor milk to rely on helps give them a little peace. Plus, babies are receiving the best possible medicine."
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.
While Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas is located in Fort Worth, the city is only home to some of our milk donors. In order to make the experience convenient for all moms, regardless of location, we provide a variety of options for donation.
Many local moms enjoy dropping their milk off directly at MMBNT. It gives them the chance to see our staff in action and understand the process their own milk will go through before being dispensed. For those who don’t live near the milk bank, there are 42 collection sites, or depots, that are equipped to store milk donations.
Most of these depots are located throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to provide an option for those who are in the area, but still aren’t within a reasonable driving distance. The rest of the depots are either in other areas of Texas, or in other states that don’t have their own milk banks. Some of these depots are hospitals, others are WIC clinics and others are organizations with a focus on women’s health. Each depot has a freezer where milk donations are securely stored until the milk leaves for MMBNT.
To get the milk to the milk bank, MMBNT’s courier pays a visit to most depots. He can be seen driving our pink van across North Texas, picking up donations and keeping them safe until they are put in the freezer at MMBNT. For the depots that are further away, our staff send overnight shipping materials to the depot. These are the same materials that are sent to milk donors who don’t live near MMBNT or a depot.
Regardless of its delivery method, all milk stays frozen during transport and goes into a freezer as soon as it gets to the milk bank. From there, the process of preparing milk for dispensation can begin.
For more information about becoming a milk donor, click here.
Our Facebook community is full of parents with great advice. Here are some of their suggestions for new moms who are just starting their breastfeeding and pumping journeys!
Nourish your body.
"Drink a glass of water every time you nurse. I put the little 1.5 gallon tanks in the nursery and bedroom so it's always visible and reminding me to fill up my glass." - Ashley F.
"Lots of water and lots of protein!" - Krista L.
Storage is key.
"Freeze bags flat first!" - Janna C.
"Buy a deep freezer!" - Beth V. (Thanks for Scott C. for the same suggestion!)
Ask for help.
"It's not always magically easy. Ask for help!" - Sara L.
"Don't be afraid to go back to the hospital and talk to a lactation consultant." - Shawn B.
"Don't be afraid to ask for help! And when you're up at 3 a.m. nursing your baby and you're exhausted, there are millions of moms doing the exact same thing; you're not alone!" - Bree E.
"Don't be discouraged if you are unable to breastfeed the first few weeks. Just keep trying (it took me 3 months)." - Briana H.
"Never give up on your worst day!" - Angela S. (Thanks to Rachel R. and Alyse O. for similar suggestions.)
For more information about Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas, click here.