BFing mom and staff member, Leah, answer a few questions she’s received about milk banking.
BFing mom and staff member, Leah, answer a few questions she’s received about milk banking.
Drops of Love is a funded program of The Milk Bank to support babies in need of PDHM whose families are unable to afford it. Kristin shares her experience as a recipient, and encourages the community to give financially for families like hers.
The Milk Bank is participating in IUPUI’s Not-Profit Day on Saturday, Feb. 9. We have 4 tickets to the 1 p.m. men’s basketball game against UIC Flames and would like to give them to one of you!
With frigid temperatures blowing across the Midwest, The Milk Bank offers a few suggestions on breastfeeding during colder months and the presence of illness.
It’s the time for resolutions. There is such a demand on mothers to be everything and more for yourself, your significant other, your kids. After the miraculous process of growing and then birthing a baby, moms are expected to achieve superhero status in home organization, child-rearing and physical activity.
In the spirit of the holiday season, The Milk Bank staff is embracing the popular song, The 12 Days of Christmas, to showcase our milk banking process as we lead up to Christmas Day. Follow along with us, and enjoy your families throughout the holidays!
It’s the season of giving and kindness. For Sena Hineline of Indianapolis, giving to The Milk Bank – even after her breastfeeding days – is an important contribution to our community’s future.
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…
On Saturday, October 6th, the Garrett's Gift memorial tree grew a little bigger. The Milk Bank hosted families from across the Midwest for our bi-annual Bereavement Family Day. Twice a year, in April and October for National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, we gather in support of families grieving their little ones.
Garrett's Gift bereavement donation program is designed for mothers who have chosen to donate their milk to honor their child's memory. We engrave a golden leaf with each child's name and birthdate to add to the memorial tree in the front area of our office. For many mothers and their families, donating after a loss helps the healing process through giving other vulnerable babies in need the gift of a fighting chance with safe donor milk.
Seven families traveled from Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana to come together. We honored Theo Dean Schimmell, William Parker Rewers, Josephine "Josie" Ethel Sweigart, Miles Andrew Scott, Hazel Nora Burvee, Addilynn Jo Swarringin, and Peter Anthony Mryan.
Theo's mother Kirsten Schimmell donated nearly 1500 ounces of milk and connected Miles' mother Ashley Scott to The Milk Bank.
The Scott family brought six family members along, Miles' grandparents and great grandparents, making a crew of eight to honor their sweet boy.
Miles' and Theo's engraved leaves are next to each other on the memorial tree.
The Burvee family brought along Hazel's older brothers Kellen and Milo who lit up the room as soon as they arrived!
Addilynn's family traveled from Missouri and made sure to take lots of pictures of and with her beautiful leaf.
Many in our community will recognize the Sweigarts, the family behind Josie's Impact, a pay-it-forward campaign celebrating the memory of Patricia and Mark's first child. Josie's leaf was added to the memorial tree over a year ago, but the Sweigarts had been unable to attend a family day until now. They brought Josie's brother Gray who is growing up so fast!
Janet and her oldest son Omar traveled through construction traffic from Chicago. They brought Janet's donation on dry ice for the drive down. Janet chose the perfect spot for Peter's leaf on the memorial tree.
The Rewers family joined us from Effingham County, Illinois, where The Milk Bank and the health department recently partnered to open a milk depot. Not only did William's mother Meghan bring her own donation, but the family brought the milk depot's entire shipment with them, too!
The Milk Bank team and the communities we serve are thankful for each and every amazing bereavement donor and their incredible families.
President Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the creation of National Hispanic Heritage Week on September 17, 1968. Nearly twenty years later, the designated week was expanded to a full month of celebration from September 15 to October 15. This year is the 50th anniversary! We take this time of year to honor the heritage and cultures Hispanic and Latinx mothers and their families.
Statistics reveal that on average, more than 80% of Latinx mothers initiate breastfeeding. This is a statistic worth celebrating during and beyond this month! Latinx breastfeeding advocates in the U.S. and South America also speak to the work to improve breastfeeding duration and exclusive breastfeeding rates.
Here in the Midwest, The Milk Bank works alongside medical professionals, social services, and new mothers to provide growing families with bilingual, culturally mindful, and accurate educational information, resources, and support services to ensure all infants have access to safe human milk.
In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we interviewed someone we love and work with every day here at our office. Adriana Tebbe is the Bilingual Donor Specialist at The Milk Bank and she shares more about her work and why National Hispanic Heritage Month is important to our mission.
Tell us more about your professional background and what brought you to The Milk Bank team.
I have a master’s degree in Social Work and my concentration is in Child Welfare. I have always worked for not for profit organizations in the Child Welfare field. I am also passionate about women’s rights and empowerment. Working at The Milk Bank takes on some of both of those interests. I am a mother of a 5-year-old who was breastfed and struggled to do so. So, I am happy to be able to help mothers who struggle with the process feel empowered and more secure in knowing that they are doing what is best for their baby.
You started as a pasteurization tech and transitioned into the role of bilingual donor specialist. How has your experience in pasteurization helped you connect with donors and others in the community?
I started working for The Milk Bank full time in May of 2016. I worked in pasteurization in the mornings and did the donor screenings, outreach, etc. in the afternoons. I transitioned into my role as a Bilingual Donor Specialist full time about a year after. When speaking to others about what we do at The Milk Bank, my experience in pasteurization has helped because I can better explain the steps it takes to get the milk ready to be pasteurized and why we pasteurize the milk. I feel more prepared to answer more specific questions that others may have when at events and when screening potential donors on the phone.
September 15 – October 15 is National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. How does your identity shape your work at The Milk Bank?
I feel very passionate about reaching out and hopefully helping mothers who are of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage be knowledgeable about breastfeeding, about raising their children the way they want, and feel empowered to do so without pressure or restraints. Language barriers can certainly be a detriment and being able to provide information in Spanish to mothers who want to learn about The Milk Bank and the services we provide can be helpful to all involved.
Why is it important to talk about and engage with Latino parents and families about the benefits of breastfeeding, the availability of resources and support, and the power of milk donation and donor milk?
I feel that disseminating information to all families and mothers is important, no matter what language they speak or where they are from. Having the ability to provide services in Spanish, allows The Milk Bank to be more inclusive and aware of those who are part of our community. It also means we are aware of the limited resources families who speak other languages have due to communication barriers.
What does The Milk Bank offer to Spanish-speaking families?
At The Milk Bank we can complete all donor screenings, approvals, and breastfeeding assistance in Spanish. We can also work with mothers who have lost a baby to donate their milk and have a leaf hung on our Garrett's Gift Giving Tree in memory of their baby.
by Jami Marvin, The Milk Bank Production Director
September is NICU awareness month. Most of the time, you hear about NICU babies being small, premature and extremely fragile babies. What you don’t hear about nearly as often, though, are the full-term, normal weight babies that seem to be perfectly healthy.
That’s what I had. My daughter was due on October 26th, 2010. She decided she wasn’t ready, and on Halloween of that year I finally went into labor. In the wee hours of the morning on November 1st, after several hours of laboring at home, my husband and I headed toward the hospital. When we arrived, I was in full-blown active labor. We were quickly placed in a room, and found out that I was already dilated to 6 centimeters! Everything was going great, and I requested an epidural. After receiving the epidural, I was bedridden to wait out the rest of labor. From there, things didn’t go as planned. My labor stalled out, and I was put on oxygen. I stopped progressing even after my water broke. It got to the point where my daughter was just not going to arrive safely without going in for a c-section.
Fast forward to being back in our room, post-surgery, with a beautiful 8lb 10oz baby girl. We had about 2 hours with her.
Then, one of the nurses noticed something off about her nose. The pediatrician on duty had our daughter sent to the NICU at the hospital where I delivered, and ordered a CT scan. My husband was able to visit her in her NICU room, but it took hours before I was able to go to that floor to see her.
What the doctors at that hospital saw on the CT scan sent us into a whirlwind. Our bodies as parents were functioning on autopilot. The doctors were talking to us, but all I could do was nod. I couldn’t really process what they were telling us.
Our daughter was sent for more testing at Riley Hospital for Children, which was across town from where I was recovering. She was barely 12 hours old. I was devastated to say the least, but I began to pump breastmilk for my husband to take to her. I pumped the smallest amounts of colostrum, but it was something and he took it to her as soon as he could.
After an MRI and more testing, it was concluded that our daughter was born with extra sacs of spinal fluid that were inside of her skull. These sacs needed to be removed as soon as possible. One had developed in the back of her brain, and another in the front of her brain, causing cartilage to grow and block part of her nasal passage. We were lucky enough to have an otherwise healthy baby, so while she waited in the hospital for her surgery, I was able to nurse her while we were together, and she took my pumped milk through bottles when we were apart.
At 16 days old, on my husband’s birthday, our daughter underwent about an 8-hour brain surgery. Our family came to support and be with us while we waited. It was the longest wait of our lives. The nurses would come and update other families of the surgery patients periodically. But I never spoke to those nurses. I couldn’t. There are just no words to describe that feeling unless you’ve been in that situation. About the only thing I did, because it was the only thing I could do, was pump. I pumped a ton during her entire hospital stay. It felt like it was the only thing I could do during her surgery. I sat in that little room and pumped away.
She came out of a successful surgery, and we were able to see her pretty quickly in the recovery room. Her little head had a helmet made of gauze and her eyes were swollen shut. I don’t know what I had expected, but it was shocking.
I was told I could resume nursing her as soon as she showed interest. She was heavily sedated and hooked up to so many machines, so she took only pumped milk for the first day. Once her swelling began to subside and her helmet was removed, the nurses helped maneuver all of her many cords so that I could nurse her. She didn’t skip a beat and knew exactly what to do.
We spent an additional 4 days at the hospital after her surgery while she recovered. We went home the Monday before Thanksgiving that year, and we were definitely thankful.
Now, Maddy is a sassy, softball-playing almost 8-year-old! She has had other surgeries since then, and still has more to come, but she is the strongest little girl I know. I am proud to be her mommy, and without her experience in the NICU, I wouldn’t be doing what I do today to help other NICU babies!
As a pediatrician who works exclusively with healthy newborns, I spend my days being a cheerleader for breastfeeding moms. I help moms with their baby’s first latch and reassure them when their baby loses a little bit of weight. I give tips to family members on how to best support a breastfeeding mom and baby. Helping families start a successful breastfeeding relationship is one of the best parts of my job.
So when I became pregnant with my second baby, there was no doubt in my mind that I would breastfeed him. I had much more confidence as a second-time mom, and I planned to do skin to skin with my son right after delivery, an experience I missed with my daughter. I envisioned our breastfeeding relationship getting off to a great start.
My son had other plans in mind. After a normal pregnancy and delivery, my son developed breathing problems shortly after birth and had to be transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit. Because he was on CPAP (a machine to give extra breathing support), he was not able to breastfeed or bottle feed. All of his feeds went through a tube from his mouth into his stomach.
I knew I only wanted my son to receive breastmilk because of the amazing health benefits it gives to babies. However, like most moms, my body did not produce enough colostrum through pumping in the first few days to give my son all the breastmilk that he needed. Luckily, the hospital I delivered at offered donor milk for premature and medically fragile babies.
For the first few days of his life, my son received a little bit of my breastmilk, but a lot of pasteurized human donor milk. As my full milk supply came in, I was eventually able to pump enough milk to provide all of my son’s nutritional needs. As he got stronger, he was able to slowly learn to breastfeed, and he left the NICU as a fully breastfed infant!
As a pediatrician, I know that safe donor milk helped my son grow and fight off infections in his fragile little body. As a mother, I am so incredibly grateful for the other mothers who graciously donated their breastmilk so that my son could get the best start in life. It is truly the greatest gift of all.
This coming week marks the 6th annual Black Breastfeeding Week. The theme is #LoveonTop, because love motivates and captures what people do as parents from breastfeeding to nurturing children, families, and communities. Why is there a specific week during National Breastfeeding Month dedicated to black families? Read the Top 5 Reasons blog post!
This month's spotlight is Aimbriel Lasley, lactation consultant, breastfeeding advocate, and co-host of next week's Love on Top: Black Breastfeeding Summit.
Tell us more about your professional background.
I am an IBCLC and also hold a Master degree in Health and Wellness Counseling. I work PRN at a local hospital as a lactation consultant.
What inspired you to become a breastfeeding advocate and lactation consultant?
I have four children but did not breastfeed my first. After having my second child and taking a different route I opted to breastfeed. Shortly after the second child, I had twins and had a successful breastfeeding journey with all three. However, along my journey I discovered barriers and misinformation about breastfeeding. I wanted to help other mothers like me have a better experience. Additionally, learning of our high infant mortality rate and the lack of support and representation in the field of lactation I had no other choice but to become an advocate.
Can you share a highlight of your volunteer work with Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition?
I have been involved with the coalition for about 8 years. I have been fortunate to work with lots of moms as well as provide education and support. Additionally, the coalition helped me with my first steps towards becoming an IBCLC by providing a scholarship to me in 2013 to take the CLC (Certified Lactation Counselor) course.
This coming week is Black Breastfeeding Week. Why is this designated time so important?
This designated time is so important because the tradition of breastfeeding was lost in our culture. Many moms in the black community do not see representation in breastfeeding within their healthcare system or in their immediate support circle. Black Breastfeeding Week is an opportunity to show that black mothers DO breastfeed and that we CAN change the scope of our public health if we invest in each other and support each other. We need to reclaim our roots and traditions of child rearing practices and breastfeeding is an integral part in that.
Tell us how the Love on Top Summit came together and what can attendees expect?
I have had the vision to do a summit for some years to really talk about black breastfeeding and the support that we need in order to be successful. This year has been an amazing year of things coming to fruition. My good friend Meisha Wide, co-host of the event, sent me a message that she wanted to circle back to an idea we had spoken about previously that encompassed black maternal mental health. I shared my idea of a summit and together we came up with this event to showcase black breastfeeding and its disparities, but also mental health. Attendees can expect to hear breastfeeding data that supports our need for Black Breastfeeding Week, a presentation from The Milk Bank that will help debunk some myths about donor milk and give education about donor milk, as well as mental health professionals and more! There will be snacks, raffles and hopefully just a good time to network and fellowship with others passionate about breastfeeding and maternal health!
This Saturday, August 25th from 2-5p, join the Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition for its annual Black Breastfeeding Week kick-off event at Tarkington Park. There will be a picnic, time to play at the park, and a celebration of breastfeeding parents, their babies and families.
The Love on Top: Black Breastfeeding Summit is on Tuesday, August 28th from 6-7:30p at Flanner House. This forum serves to meet the needs of breastfeeding moms’ physical and mental wellbeing. The summit is open to moms, mom advocates, and people that love on moms. Register for free here.
On Thursday, August 16th, The Milk Bank celebrated the opening of the 7th milk depot in Illinois at the Lawrence County Health Department in Lawrenceville. Amy Marley, Director of Public Health, and Jayla Rinsch, Public Health Nurse and program coordinator, connected with The Milk Bank team in June and moved forward with opening the milk depot in July.
Milk depots provide a convenient and more accessible place for donors to bring their extra breast milk for processing and pasteurization at The Milk Bank. Then, the pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) is delivered to fragile infants in hospital neonatal intensive care units in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri.
“The milk bank hopes to continue forging partnerships with organizations throughout the Midwest to make the process of human milk donation easier for donor moms and families, while also helping to support breastfeeding in local communities,” says Janice O’Rourke, Executive Director of The Milk Bank.
The Milk Bank prioritizes building relationships with hospitals, clinics, and social service agencies in rural areas to ensure that families living outside of metropolitan centers have equitable access to local milk depots, infant and maternal care, breastfeeding resources and assistance, and a community of fellow parents.
To learn more about our milk depots, check our website!
This month's spotlight is none other than Joi Barnett, student midwife, family-oriented mother, and so much more. She is a champion of health and wellness for fellow moms and our tiniest citizens, even before they arrive! We celebrate Joi this month to honor black birth workers, mothers, families, and communities working to improve black maternal and infant health disparities.
We really love the name of your business, Birth Your Joi! Tell us more about your journey as a birth worker and how you chose the name.
Thank you! My journey as a birth worker really began when I became pregnant the first time at 17. My babies are the reason I am a birth worker without a doubt. I experienced an avoidable postpartum hemorrhage after my third baby and that was a major turning point for me actually getting involved in birth work.
Birth Your Joi was born out of the unfortunate stress and strife that often comes with being a black woman and pregnant in America. My ultimate goal is to provide greater access to competent, holistic, and dignified maternity care to women, specifically to black women. Have you seen our mortality rates? When we think about our agency and birth experience I want the umbrella over the experience to be joy whenever possible.
You already trained as a doula. Why did you decide to become a midwife?
I did work as a doula, but I ended up deciding not to certify. I decided to become a midwife first because I felt a call to the service. I knew that there was more that I was/am supposed to do that's outside the scope of doula. Also, because there is a great need for women of color to have primary care providers of color in every discipline.
Can you share one birth story highlight from this year so far?
I am such a fan of birth. It's beautiful and sacred, but if I had to pick one it would be the Dad we had a few months ago who was surprised with his first boy. The couple had four girls and were kind of settled on that being their pattern. There was a mess of joyful surprised tears. It was great!
To learn more about Joi, check out her facebook page Birth Your Joi!
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. When you're a pumping and/or nursing mom, sweat is not your friend. When sweat lingers in a warm area like the breast, it increases the chances of bacteria forming. To help you avoid bacteria growth and possible milk contamination, we've revamped an old blog post on 5 tips for pumping and nursing in the summer heat.
Breast sweat can be found on the top of your breast, on the sides and underneath. Sarah Long, IBCLC and Director of Clinical Operations at The Milk Bank, discourages applying creams and lotions, noting that chemicals in lotions and sweat can contaminate your milk. Reconsider using baby powder or breast deodorant to prevent sweating for the same reasons. If you can't take a quick shower, keep a towel with you to pat sweat off. You want to make sure your breasts are dry before you begin a pumping session.
Always remember to wash your hands before you pump. For milk donors, we recommend washing your hands with soap and warm water followed by drying with a clean paper towel or cloth and avoiding lotions or creams to decrease risk of milk contamination. If you're not near soap and water, hand sanitizer works.
Heat is a breeding ground for germs, so it's vital that you wash and dry your parts thoroughly. Before you wash your parts, give them a rinse under cool water to remove any milk protein residue.
Between pumping sessions, wash parts in warm, soapy water and rinse twice in hot water; then allow to air-dry on a paper towel. If you aren't able to wash parts between sessions, you can store them in a clean plastic bag in the refrigerator, which will help cut down on bacterial growth.
For milk donors, sterilizing is also important. You need to make sure you sterilize your pump parts at least once a day.
Check out our how-to video demonstrating how to clean your pump parts.
If you're planning to pump while traveling, make sure you pack an extra cooler and ice packs for your milk. If you can't get to a freezer during the day, use frozen gel packs instead of ice. According to Sarah Long, IBCLC and Director of Clinical Operations at The Milk Bank, using the gel packs instead of ice helps to prevent melting ice from coming in contact with the milk. Pack milk tightly in the cooler filling any empty spaces with crumpled paper, but put it in a freezer as soon as you can.
If you're still wearing nursing pads, know that the summer temperatures warrant changing them more frequently. The moisture from sweat, leaking breast milk and body heat can put you at risk for yeast growth. Also, don't forget to rinse or wash your bras daily if you've sweated a lot.
On May 18th, our 5th milk depot in Kentucky opened at Nurturing Birth & Wellness in Richmond. We co-hosted a launch event at the center located at 322 West Water St., Suite C, Richmond, KY 40475. To celebrate the special occasion, we interviewed founder and doula Tress La’Ree to highlight her work and the space she created.
Tell us about the origin story of Nurturing Birth & Wellness.
I am the owner/doula at Nurturing Birth & Wellness and I have been supporting those giving birth over the last decade as a full-time doula. My vision led me to open a storefront/studio space for Nurturing Birth & Wellness in March of 2018. We build community and help families to find the wellness and support that they need throughout the child bearing year and beyond. We offer many different classes and services with more to come in the future!
Why did you become a certified birth doula?
I became a birth doula after having trained as a midwife in another state and then moving to Kentucky. I saw that my passion is in hands-on birth support and coaching as well as prenatal education and physiological birth. I took several doula trainings and explored what I felt were beneficial trainings for a labor coach. I found a training organization that I felt did a comprehensive training course and I became a certified doula through their certification process.
What is the Dancing for Birth program and why do you offer this service?
Founded in 2001, Dancing For Birth™ is the leading global class for pregnant and new moms. It is the “trifecta” of birth preparation: feel-good prenatal fitness, essential birth wisdom, and celebration of pregnancy, birth and mothering, all rolled into a weekly class that supports you from preconception to postpartum! These classes are a great way to connect with your body and your baby. There are so many benefits for pregnancy, labor and beyond.
I love to teach these classes. I feel like women everywhere could benefit from these classes. I offer these classes because I feel strongly about igniting your primal instinct for birth. Our bodies are designed to give birth~ these classes can help you get in the best space, mentally and physically for birth.
Why is it important for your space to be a milk depot for The Milk Bank?
I don’t feel like enough people know about these services and how amazing breastmilk can be! I hope to lighten the load for donors and spread the news about The Milk Bank. In the past I have had several clients who have become milk donors. It is a phenomenal gift.
Last month, we welcomed four families to The Milk Bank for our bi-annual Bereavement Family Day. The Eicher, Evers, Hill, and Burriss families gathered in remembrance of the babies they have lost by adding their engraved gold leaves to the Garrett's Gift memorial tree.
Jackson Evers got the chance to choose a spot for his late baby brother's leaf. He happened to find his own name near the bottom of the tree and asked his mother Sarah to put Oliver James beside it so he can "be next to his brother forever."
We are grateful for all mothers and their families who donate breastmilk after losing their little ones to gain healing and help vulnerable infants in need. We honor the memory of Austin Eicher, Oliver James Evers, Vivian Hill, and Stella Ann Burriss.
On Thursday, May 10th we hosted the Little Babies, Big Dreams fundraising luncheon to celebrate the mission of The Milk Bank and the power of breastmilk for growing infants. Pediatric hospitalist Dr. Emily Scott was our keynote speaker, sharing her story as a physician working with newborns and their mothers and her own experience as a parent in need of donor breastmilk for her son Ambrose. We are thankful for sponsorships from the National Bank of Indianapolis, Maternal and Child Health Program, Marion County WIC, and Indianapolis Healthy Start.
Check out the photo gallery from the event!
This semester, two Purdue students Sydney Rivera and Taylor Moehling put together a short testimonial video about the power of giving and receiving breast milk donations at The Milk Bank. The video features two incredible women, Olivia Cammack and Lauren Duncan.
After a re-diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma, cancer treatments prevented Olivia from breastfeeding her son Kenneth III just three weeks after his birth. She received donor milk from The Milk Bank a few days before running out of her own pumped supply and was thankfully able to feed her son exclusively with expressed breast milk.
Lauren donated her milk through The Milk Bank's bereavement program, Garrett's Gift, after her son Michael passed away in 2011. Now, she is a donor mother coordinator at The Milk Bank.
Check out and share the video about how meaningful and impactful donating breast milk is for so many infants and families in need.