Arizona’s first human milk donation center opened its doors on Tuesday at El Rio’s Birth and Women’s Health Center. El Rio is the newest addition to a national milk bank network, and Tuscan-area mothers with extra breast milk are encouraged to donate.
Mother’s Milk Bank is a nonprofit organization based out of Colorado. The organization collects, pasteurizes, and distributes breast milk to infants all over the country whose mothers cannot provide milk.
Olga Ryan, the birth and women’s center manager, stated, “What we really want to be able to do, is give our moms a ready choice: Do you want formula or breast milk?” The benefits of breast feeding are well-established for both mother and baby, and recently doctors have found that breast milk is successful in killing drug resistant bacteria.
Some mothers have difficulty breast feeding while others may not have the ability to do so at all. The donated milk can be a healthy substitution for infants while the mother’s problems are addressed, or it can be used full-term for a child whose mother is unable to produce.
For many breast cancer survivors, breast feeding simply is no longer an option. Women who have undergone a double mastectomy, for instance, do not have the ability to nurse their children. Approximately one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and around 12.7% of these women will have a double mastectomy.
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America provides a list of safety guidelines that banks across the country adhere to. Mothers interested in donating have to be healthy, free from harmful medications, and producing more milk than their own baby needs. Once they have spoken with a lactation consultant and completed the required blood work, women can pump at the center or they are permitted to bring the milk from home.