Today, Ava and I started what I hope is a new tradition to volunteer at the Indiana State Fair at the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank "Lactation Stations." I'm a donor mom and I've already up to 215 oz (enough for 71 - 3oz bottles) and more next week. I'm a high volume producer and I'm honored to share Ava's milk since she's thriving and getting what she needs. I work for an awesome company that provides employees 1 day of personal time off reimbursement for volunteering in their community. It was well worth it!
The Lactation Station is a cool spot at the Fair for moms to nurse their babies. There are 3 stations at the Fair and two are an air conditioned trailer and the main tent is by the Riley Pavilion, has rocking chairs provided by Cracker Barrell. They provide cold water, a changing station, and free samples and supplies. The March of Dimes was a co-sponsor and had their literature for pregnant moms. I'm dying to get Ava this super cute onesie (picture above) with a $10 donation for the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank. Next year, they're thinking about expanding to some of the County Fairs in the state.
Ava and I arrived (see above) this morning sweaty, but ready to work. It was 93 degrees and very humid today! I put her in the Baby Bjorn with her hat and she loved it! She smiled at the moms and babies. We took advantage of the air conditioned trailer when she wanted to nurse. She fell asleep and then I put her in the stroller to snooze. I love taking the baby with me because it gives us both new experiences to enjoy! I can tell her when she's older what we did together. I sat with the very appreciative nursing moms and it reminded me of a Le Leche League meeting, which is a mom-to-mom breastfeeding advocacy and support group. I had fun at the station telling moms that this spot was available for them.
Human milk banks are a safer way to share milk between moms and babies because the donor moms go through extensive health reviews, including a blood sample screening, and follow guidelines for safe storage. These high volume producing moms donate their milk for moms that need an alternative source due to medical reasons (breast surgery, etc), adoption, or they had a premature infant in the NICU and their mature milk hasn't arrived. The milk banks combine donated defrosted milk, pasteurize it (killing bacteria, but retaining the valuable antibodies), and then redistribute it in bottles for hospitals and moms.
I'm so inspired by the couple that became advocates of human milk bank after they lost their premature infant to a tragic, untimely death. They started a documentry project called Prescription Milk (watch the trailer and become a Fan on their Facebook page) and the Indiana Milk Bank is featured. I was shocked to learn that only 35% of US NICUs allow Mother's Milk. Premature babies have a 40% mortality rate in the first year and providing them this invaluable resource such as super-power antibodies can make a massive difference in giving them strength to thrive.
Follow @milkbankguy on Twitter to learn more about donating, volunteering, or sourcing milk for your baby.