Making an impact in Indianapolis and beyond

Making an impact in Indianapolis and beyond

Patricia and Mark Sweigart faced the one thing parents never hope to face: losing their child. Their infant daughter died 18 days after her birth.

While the grief was overwhelming for the first- time parents, Patricia said they wanted to turn their tragedy into a mission of kindness. The couple created Josie’s Impact cards and did nice things for the people that helped them during Josie’s 18 days of life.

“Eighteen days doesn’t sound like a lot. She just wasn’t this dying baby that was lying in an incubator. It was 18 days of our lives that we stayed praying with her.”

Patricia said they heard about another couple that lost a child doing good deeds for others on the anniversary of the child’s death and decided to do something similar.

 The cards have a picture of Josie on one side and the other side tells a bit of the Sweigarts story and instructions to do a good deed. When people did a good deed, they would leave a Josie’s Impact card behind to remind others to pay it forward. They did this for 18 days to represent the number of days Josie impacted their lives.

Josie's Impact cards

Josie's Impact cards

For the 18-day mission, the Sweigarts did something nice for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit staff where Josie was born, took food the NICU parent’s lounge and they even dropped off cupcakes to our staff at The Milk Bank. 

“Throughout the year, I didn’t understand why it was 18 days. I was able to feel what a parent’s love was. She was our only child. She was meant to help hundreds of people. It was a bigger picture than just my family. It wasn’t just to teach me a lesson to trust in God more, it was to help other people open their eyes. It makes you think that you never know what’s going on.” 

The couple started their mission on March 18, Josie’s birthday and since then, they have seen the cards go to 15 states, the United Kingdom and it is still going!

Patricia said they wanted to include The Milk Bank in their 18 days because Josie received donor milk and Patricia became a bereavement donor.

When mom’s own milk is not available, research shows that donor milk is the next best thing, especially for premature infants like Josie.

Josie was born at 28 weeks and Patricia said they knew she might have challenges being born prematurely, but things took a turn for the worst a lot faster than they expected.

“I got diagnosed with preeclampsia at 25 weeks. I was admitted (to the hospital) at 27 weeks and at 28 weeks they (doctors) had to do an emergency C-section,” Patricia said. “Her survival rate was 90 percent. We knew there would be bumps in the road, but we didn’t think she wouldn’t survive.”

By the two-week mark of Josie’s life, things started to look bleak as she was showing signs of infection, but there were some signs of hope.

 “…They told us she had a 50 percent chance of making it through the night. She made it through the night and all her numbers started to look better. When I left the hospital Monday night, the doctor said she was fine.”

However, that hope was fleeting and things quickly worsened.

“We got a phone call at 5:21 the next day that she had coded. We rushed to the hospital, we saw them doing the chest compressions and counting. Her time of death ended up being 6:30. They are pretty sure it was probably pneumonia.”

While the loss of their daughter will forever linger in their hearts, the Sweigerts are thrilled to be welcoming a baby boy soon.  At the time we spoke with her, Patricia was 29 weeks and doing fine. 

“We’re definitely going to do something next year,” she said of doing another mission of kindness. 

*Update* Patricia and Mark are the proud parents of a healthy baby boy. Mom is doing great.*


Breastfeeding advocate raises money for The Milk Bank

Breastfeeding advocate raises money for The Milk Bank

Since 2014, Lasley, an IBCLC and Indianapolis resident, has done something she calls her birthday quest. Instead of receiving gifts, she has opted to help others by raising money for organizations that have had an influence in her life. This year she chose The Milk Bank. 

Bereavement mom finds healing in donating milk

Bereavement mom finds healing in donating milk

Anticipating a new baby is a joy for any parent. It brings the thrill of choosing a name, decorating a nursey and of course, picking out clothes. However, what do you do when all of that suddenly comes to a halt because doctors tell you your baby has zero chance of survival

Dine and Donate at Chipotle and City Barbecue

Dine and Donate at Chipotle and City Barbecue

The Milk Bank is hosting two dine and donate events this month. The first being at Chipotle inside of the Fashion Mall food court, 8702 Keystone Crossing.

From 4 to 8 p.m. on May 11th, bring in the flyer, show it on your phone, or tell the cashier you are dining to donate for The Milk Bank and 50 percent of the proceeds from that time frame will go to us.

The second event is May 12th at City Barbecue IUPUI, 621 W. 11th St., Indianapolis, IN. Print the flyer below and 25 percent of your purchase will be donated back to us.  

We hope that you will help our cause by filling your belly, which will help us fill the bellies of fragile infants with nutritious pasteurized donor human milk. 




Donor story: Donor mom comes full circle with her act of love

Donor story: Donor mom comes full circle with her act of love

When Amber Lumpkin delivered her children, Gavin, 7, and Bella, 5, things went as expected. However, when her 8-month-old son Jasper was born the delivery wasn’t like his older siblings. “It was kind of a different road when Jasper was born,” she said. Born at…

Donor story: Oversupply of love

What do you do when you have an oversupply of breastmilk? You donate it to The Milk Bank, of course.     After filling all her freezers, Wisconsin resident and mom of two, Jessica Safransky Schacht said an internet search is what led her to…

5 tips for summertime pumping

5 tips for summertime pumping

Summer is here, and that means longer days, vacations and soaking up the sun.   However, there’s a downside to summer and it’s called sweat. It makes your hair wet, skin sticky, and it trickles down to places you didn’t know it could. 

From recipient to donor

From recipient to donor

Our job is to receive milk, pasteurize it and ship it to hospitals who give it to sick infants in Neonatal Intensive Care Units. While we know donor milk is the next best thing when mom’s milk is not available, we rarely get to hear from…

10 songs to breast pump to

10 songs to breast pump to

When I first heard the noise, I thought it was a figment of my imagination. After all, I was a week postpartum and sleep had packed its bags and left without warning.   But I kept hearing the noise over and over. Could it…

Donor story: Pushing herself toward the goal

Donor story: Pushing herself toward the goal

Support and determination are two words Lindsey Seitz can relate to. The first-time mom to 10-month-old son, Houston, said she didn’t know much about breastfeeding, let alone being a milk donor, but she was determined to do both.   “After ten month of extreme dedication,…

Human Milk Banking Association of North America conference recap

Human Milk Banking Association of North America conference recap

The Sixth International Congress on Donor Human Milk Banking   Human Milk 2016: Culture, Composition, Use   The Milk Bank was prominently represented at the Sixth International Congress on Donor Human Milk Banking April 11 and 12 in Orlando, Fla.  Two staff members and…

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

Donor story: When ‘thanks’ is not enough

What do you do when you’re on bed rest for seven weeks? Well, not much, according to Lynn Parkhurst. “I just laid there. I learned how to crochet. I caught up on a lot of shows,” the Wisconsin mom of two said. Both of her…

New in 2016: Free Lactation Services

New in 2016: Free Lactation Services

We are proud to announce the addition of FREE Lactation Services to our programs starting in Spring of 2016.   The 2014 CDC Breastfeeding report card shows Indiana behind the national average for both the initiation of breastfeeding and exclusively breastfeeding at three months.  With…

Why #GivingTuesday Matters

If you're like me,  you barely looked through the massive amount of mailers you received advertising Black Friday deals and don't feel compelled to rush out to the mall first thing Friday morning. Maybe Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday is more your thing.  

Survive Now. Cry Later. World Prematurity Day

In remembrance of World Prematurity Day, we asked staff who have experienced a premature birth to share their story. Here is Andrea's.   


“Survive now.  Cry later.”  This short saying perfectly summarizes my pregnancy and delivery.


After two weeks of at-home bed rest due to pregnancy-induced hypertension and an intra-uterine growth restriction, I received a call from my OB himself.  “Pack your hospital bag.  I will see you as soon as you get there.”  PIH had turned into severe pre-eclampsia, and my life and my baby’s life were in extreme danger.  I spent my days on my left side either sleeping or listening to my baby’s heartbeat on the monitors and adjusting them as he frequently kicked them away.  I knew even then that he was a fighter.  Survive now.  Cry later.


I was induced at 35 weeks, and for 50+ hours I wore what my husband calls my “game face.”  My only thought was that my life did not matter as long as my baby survived.  Wednesday evening came and still no baby.  His heart rate continually dropped, and we opted for an emergency c-section.  Survive now.  Cry later.


Cameron was born weighing 4 lbs. 2 oz. but this is where my story begins to differ from most parents of preemies.  He never knew that he was born too early or that he was small.  There was no need for a feeding tube, bili lights, or even an extended hospital stay.  We both left the hospital healthy.  We survived.


What could have been is not lost on me, and of course, that thought brings a wealth of emotion.  However, my experience has given me purpose and reason for my work at The Milk Bank.  I cry with the donor who is so passionate about giving back, for the mother who lost her baby, and for the outpatients desperately seeking the outcome I was so easily given.  I survived, but I still cry.

Nonprofit Milk Bank Celebrates World Prematurity Day





Why Do We Pasteurize Breast Milk Donations?

We are often asked, “Why do you pasteurize your milk donations?” The simple answer is this: because pasteurization kills the bad while retaining the good. But that answer doesn’t always satisfy those that think breastmilk is best raw form. While generally, we agree: breastmilk is best untouched, our mission is to provide donor milk to the population of infants who are most susceptible to infection. It’s our job to provide the best nutrition while ensuring we do no harm. Both the American College of Pediatricians and the Center for Disease Control recommend pasteurized human donor milk if mother’s own milk is unavailable and that means we have a responsibility to ensure proper procedures.

Before we pasteurize milk donations, we first make sure that our donors are free of communicable diseases and are generally healthy with limited medication use. We require a blood test for all our milk donors to check for HIV, HTLV, Syphilis, Hepatitis B &C. We make sure our donors maintain lifestyles that are compatible for donation- they are a non-smoker, aren’t taking a medication that will affect a premature baby and pump and store their milk in a safe way.


But what about the milk itself? What in the milk is killed during pasteurization and what is maintained?


First, let’s talk about what is retained.

  • The enzyme that destroys bacteria by disrupting their cell walls retains 75 percent of its activity. Lysozyme, with many other bioactive components, allow a baby to create their own immunity in their urinary tract. Meaning, babies fed breast milk are less likely to develop a urinary tract infection.
  • Oligosaccharides, a complex chain of sugars unique to human milk are unchanged by pasteurization. You might be wondering, why are these sugars important? They exist to feed the tiny organisms that make up a baby's digestive system. In fact, some researchers believe that human milk was evolved to be more protective than to provide nutrition.
  • 70 percent of the concentrated IgA antibodies are also retained through pasteurization. These are the antibodies to things like E. coli, group B streptococci and Brucella abortus, all bacteria that can be harmful, if not deadly to a preterm infant.


So, how does breastmilk change when pasteurized?

  • The good news is, not much changes! Well, aside from the things we want to change like the elimination of pathogens and viruses.
  • Some of you might have heard about lipase or have experienced high amounts of it in your own frozen milk, pasteurization inactivates the enzyme.


Our final step to ensure sure the milk we are sending to the most fragile infants is completely safe involves testing for potential bacteria. Each batch has a random sample checked by an independent lab that performs a 48- hour culture to check that all potential pathogens and viruses are destroyed.


If you have a question you would like answered, email us  at or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.



7 Tips to Ease the Anxiety of Breastfeeding in Public

Breastfeeding in public is a woman’s right, it is supported by law in 48states, but the practical side of this can be a real issue and many new mothers worry about negative reactions to feeding their baby in front of strangers.

Part of the convenience of breastfeeding is that you have all your equipment right there, milk at the perfect temperature, ready at any time! To be able to leave the house and feed your baby wherever you like should be easy, right? In Theory. But not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding in pubic, so here are some practical pointers that may ease the anxiety felt by so many new Mothers.

  1. Practice at home, in front of a mirror, or have someone you trust observe. Start “normalizing” breastfeeding at home, with visitors, sometimes our worry can be for nothing, you may just be surprised by the reaction of others. What may feel like you exposing your body to the world, might not even be visible to others.
  2. Plan ahead. Going to the store? The mall? Start by going somewhere you know has breastfeeding accommodations, where you know moms and babies will be. You will be surprised at how many public places have great breastfeeding spaces and will have these listed online. I came across this cool app that can help you search for a private place to breastfeed: Mom’s Pump Here.
  3. Invest in a good nursing bra, not only is this important for comfort and supports good breast health, but there is nothing worse than having to fumble when settling down to feed your baby!
  4. Wear layers, a stretchy tank can be versatile, an oversized t-shirt or button down, this can act as a cover or blanket. I like those large pashmina/ scarves as a way to conceal. Not only look fabulous they are a great way of screening the baby if you are worried about some skin showing.
  5. Choose a comfortable location. A good place to start, if weather permits, is a quiet area in the park, a park bench or a shady spot under a tree, It would look nothing more than a mama snuggling with her baby to potential onlookers.
  6. Watch your baby’s cues, this advice is not only for the early days in the hospital, but it is worth remembering when you are out and about with your baby. Consider: A crying baby who is hungry and frantic could draw attention and add to your anxiety. A calm baby will more than likely latch quickly and successfully.
  7. If, on the off chance you encounter negative comments, think of a response that is both firm and polite. No need to apologize, you are doing nothing wrong. A kind smile often is all you need to deter onlookers.



The more we can normalize breastfeeding, the more it will be accepted as part of our culture for feeding and nurturing our children.

"A newborn baby has only three demands. They are warmth in the arms of its mother, food from her breasts, and security in the knowledge of her presence. Breastfeeding satisfies all three". ~Grantly Dick-Read


Making Breastfeeding Work at Work: 5 Benefits of Babies in the Workplace

Making Breastfeeding Work at Work

5 Benefits of Babies to the Workplace

Janice Sneider O'Rourke, MPA, RD, Executive Director, The Milk Bank


The idea came to me one Friday night in September. It was 2011 and one of our employees who was exclusively breastfeeding her 4-month-old baby had just lost her childcare and was scrambling to find an adequate care that would allow her to maintain her employment with us.


"Bring the baby to work", I said when I called her that night.


We didn’t have a formalized policy then like we do now, but it was the beginning of our commitment to supporting our employees in their breastfeeding journey. Since that time, we have welcomed two other babies into the office with their full time and part time working moms and have adopted a formalized “Breastfeeding in the Workplace” policy.


We commit to welcoming any breastfeed baby at The Milk Bank within the first 6 months. We believe that every baby should have access to human milk including the children of our employees. We commit to making every effort to ensure our employees job duties will allow for the easy care of their babies and we trust that our employees will make the best judgement when it comes to the safety of their baby.


This year’s World Breastfeeding Weeks theme was “Breastfeeding and Work - Let’s make it Work”. To celebrate National Breastfeeding Month we've put together a list of the benefits we have found from having our babies with us at work.


Here are some of the benefits we have found to having babies in the workplace.


baby in workplace Collage


  1. 1. Our Employees are loyal: We have found that our employees appreciate the extra time they get to spend with their baby and often find ways to work longer.


  1. Our Employees miss less work: By being able to directly breastfeed, our Office babies are hardly ever sick, therefore, our employees miss less work.


  1. Our Employees are happy: Not just the moms who have their babies in the office but also the rest of us. There is nothing like a baby to reduce stress and frustration. A baby smile has the ability to lift the mood in an instant.
  1. Our Babies are happy: You might assume that having a baby in the office would be a nuisance, but we have found that our Office Babies are happy. They very rarely cry and, in general, are content to be snuggled by anyone around the office.


  1. It’s the right thing to do: If a human milk bank cannot be baby-friendly, who can?


"There is nothing better than taking a baby break during a stressful day. Snuggles and big toothless smiles in the middle of the work day cannot be beat!" -Andrea Tincher, Office Manager









Bereavement Donation, Healing through Milk Donation

Bereavement Donation

 Healing through Milk Donation

Sarah Long, IBCLC, Clinical Coordinator, The Milk Bank


Far too often, the mom calling us for information about breastmilk donation has just gone through an unimaginable experience; the loss of a child. A child their body had planned to care for, to nurture. A baby, who might have spent some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and a mom who likely had worked very hard to ensure her baby has the best; breast milk.


When that baby is gone, it can be difficult for a mom to know what to do with what milk she might have left over. Her body will likely take some time to adjust to her baby being gone. Breast milk donation can help a grieving mother to have a reason to pump. Donation can help a family feel as though something good can come from their heartbreak.


“Donating filled my heart with such excitement and joy because I knew I was helping these fragile little preemies in honor of my sweet son.”


– Sheri Rukavina on donating after the loss of her son. 




Bereavement donation Ameda Collage



We strive to make becoming a Milk Donor after the loss of a child as easy as possible. We do not require a minimum donation for a bereavement donor but do ask that they submit to our screening process and communicable disease testing if they would like for their donation to be used for inpatients. If the screening and testing are too much for a bereavement donor, we will accept their donation for research. Either way, their milk donations are important and potentially life changing.

In an effort to support a grieving family, we are lucky to have a partner in Amēda, who has given us three hospital grade pumps that we are able to lend to a mom who does not have access to a pump and needs one. These pumps have allowed us to provide even more convenience to a family.

If you know a family who had recently experienced a loss and would like more information about becoming a milk donor, we are happy to speak to them. We can be reached at 877.829.7470 or there is more information here.

We want to hear from you. Has becoming a Milk Donor helped you through the loss of a child?