World Breastfeeding Week

World Breastfeeding Week

By Sarah Long, August 2, 2017

World Breastfeeding Week, organized by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), is celebrated every year from 1 to 7 August all over the globe to encourage breastfeeding and improve the health of babies around the world. The theme for 2017 World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) is Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. The intersection between the nonprofit donor milk movement and this year’s theme for World Breastfeeding Week, National Breastfeeding Month, and Black Breastfeeding Week centers around equity.

The Milk Bank is uniquely positioned as a community-based milk bank to provide equitable breastfeeding support and resources.  In addition to providing pasteurized donor human milk to premature infants and others, our core programs include collaboration, education and promotion of the awareness and acceptance of breastfeeding and human milk as the optimal first food for all infants. The Milk Bank is expanding the support that women have received in the hospital with the goal of extending the duration of breastfeeding by launching a community support program. The Milk Bank’s Breastfeeding Resources & Assistance (B.R.A.) program helps to provide breastfeeding families access to counseling and support from lactation professionals, including an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or CLS by offering free skilled lactation support, weight checks and pump checks, while promoting the value of human milk.

If you or someone you know is in need of lactation assistance or support please contact The Milk Bank to make an appointment for the B.R.A. program at 317-536-1670.

The Milk Bank has new pasteurization equipment

The Milk Bank has new pasteurization equipment

We recently added new equipment that helps increase the efficiency of our pasteurization process. 

The first piece of equipment is the milk filler.

The filler ensures that all bottles are filled to the precise amount each time. As you can see in the video below, the milk travels from the flask through a stainless-steel straw and silicon tube that is latched into place on the machine.  

The machine limits the amount of milk that is dispensed into the bottles through a stainless-steel funnel. After each batch of milk, the tubing is changed and the stainless-steel pieces are thoroughly washed and sanitized.

The second piece of equipment we’ve added is our handheld capping tool.  

The “capper” spins and tightens the cap on each bottle and when the proper torque is reached, it stops. This is key to making sure caps are consistent and sealed tight. 

Also, we have upgraded our induction sealer. After the capper, the bottles go on the conveyor belt of the sealer and under an induction heater head. The head of the unit creates an electromagnetic field that heats only the foil seals inside the lids. While the sealer is sometimes called a heater, it doesn’t put off heat like a space heater. 

In addition, the sealer has sensors on it which can detect if a cap is missing foil, is loose or if it is crooked.  The bottles that are found to have a fault are rejected and then inspected by a pasteurization technician who will either rebottle the milk or replace the lid and seal it again.

 Last, but certainly not least is the mixer.  The mixer is used to gently homogenize the milk to achieve complete consistency throughout an entire batch. 

This process was previously done by hand, with no way to continuously mix the milk during the bottling process. Now, we can gently mix the milk while it is being dispensed into the prepared bottles.

It has taken a process that was once 20 minutes and reduced it down to five, as well as helping to reduce the physical strain on the technicians and achieving better consistency for the thousands of bottles we fill each week. 

While all of the equipment is a great addition for us, we still take the extra step to recheck seals because we want to make sure our bottles arrive at hospitals in tip-top shape.  In fact, we will still use the by hand methods when needed.

Volunteer at the Indiana State Fair

Volunteer at the Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair is quickly approaching and we need your help!

The Milk Bank has partnered with the Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition, Metro Indy Lactation Coalition and Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative to provide breastfeeding mothers with a comfortable place to tend to their little ones.

This year, we are proud to announce that we will have an RV located on the northeast corner of the Family Fun Park. Families can also feel free to use the Red Cross station located next to Hook’s Pharmacy. 

“Breastfeeding advocates from across the state were excited and enthused that last year, the State Fair took on lactation stations for Hoosier mothers as an integral part of the infrastructure of the state fair. In an effort to improve this important accommodation, The Milk Bank with support from the Indiana Breastfeeding Coalition, Metro Indy Lactation Coalition, have secured an RV and location for an air conditioned, comfortable place for breastfeeding and pumping mothers,” said Sarah Long, Director of Clinical Operations at The Milk Bank.

We are thankful to Mount Comfort RV for their generous RV donation and support of the lactation stations.

While we are looking forwarding to serving all the mothers and families,  it takes a lot of help to make sure things run smoothly. We are seeking volunteers to staff the lactation stations throughout the duration of the fair, which will be Aug. 4 through the 20th. 

If you are interested in volunteering, please click here  to sign up!



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.