But Not Forgotten: Bereavement Family Day October 2018

But Not Forgotten: Bereavement Family Day October 2018

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.

 Kirsten Schimmell with her donation in Theo’s name

Kirsten Schimmell with her donation in Theo’s name

 Kirsten and Todd Schimmell, Theo’s parents

Kirsten and Todd Schimmell, Theo’s parents

The Scott family brought six family members along, Miles' grandparents and great grandparents, making a crew of eight to honor their sweet boy.

 Ashley and Michael Scott and their extended family

Ashley and Michael Scott and their extended family

Miles' and Theo's engraved leaves are next to each other on the memorial tree.

 Theo and Miles bring their families together through the memorial tree

Theo and Miles bring their families together through 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!

 The Burvee family

The Burvee family

 Hazel’s brothers Kellen and Milo

Hazel’s brothers Kellen and Milo

Addilynn's family traveled from Missouri and made sure to take lots of pictures of and with her beautiful leaf.

 Addilynn’s parents and grandparents

Addilynn’s parents and grandparents

 Brittany Morris’ mother snaps a quick family photo

Brittany Morris’ mother snaps a quick family photo

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!

 Patricia, Mark, and Gray Sweigart in front of the memorial tree

Patricia, Mark, and Gray Sweigart in front of the memorial tree

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.

 Janet next to her son Peter’s leaf

Janet next to her son Peter’s leaf

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!

 Meghan, James, and Kael Rewers, William’s family

Meghan, James, and Kael Rewers, William’s family

 “In loving memory of William Parker Rewers”

“In loving memory of William Parker Rewers”

 Effingham County Health Department’s milk depot shipment personally delivered by the Rewers family

Effingham County Health Department’s milk depot shipment personally delivered by the Rewers family

The Milk Bank team and the communities we serve are thankful for each and every amazing bereavement donor and their incredible families.

The Milk Bank Spotlight: Our Own Adriana Tebbe

The Milk Bank Spotlight: Our Own Adriana Tebbe

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.

 Adriana and her family.

Adriana and her family.

To learn more about the National Hispanic Heritage Month, visit the federal website. To learn more about the bilingual services The Milk Bank offers, give us a call at (317) 536-1670. 

Maddy's NICU Story

Maddy's NICU Story

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.

 Our family just after Maddy was born

Our family just after Maddy was born

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.

 Maddy before her surgery

Maddy before her surgery

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.

 Maddy just after her surgery

Maddy just after her surgery

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.

 Maddy three days after her surgery

Maddy three days after her surgery

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!

 Maddy and me today :)

Maddy and me today :)

Donor Milk: A Personal and Public Good

Donor Milk: A Personal and Public Good

by Dr. Emily Scott, Newborn Hospitalist

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.

The Milk Bank Celebrates Black Breastfeeding Week 2018

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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! 


The Milk Bank Spotlight: Aimbriel Lasley

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! 

To learn more about the Love on Top: Black Breastfeeding Summit, visit theevent page and register here.


Indiana Black Breastfeeding Coalition
Black Breastfeeding Week Celebration

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.

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Love on Top: Black Breastfeeding Summit

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.

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Lawrence County Health Department Depot Opening

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!

The Milk Bank Spotlight: Joi Barnett & Birth Your Joi

The Milk Bank Spotlight: Joi Barnett & Birth Your Joi

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.

  1. 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. 

  2. 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.

  3. 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

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reboot: Summer Pumping Tips!

reboot: Summer Pumping Tips!

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.

#1: Manage breast sweat

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.

 via GIPHY


#2: Wash your hands

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.

 via Behance

via Behance

#3: Clean your pump parts

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.

 via GIFER


#4: Keep it cool

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.

 via Tenor

via Tenor

#5: Change often

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.

 via Pinterest

via Pinterest

We hope these tips help you this summer. Happy pumping/nursing!

The Milk Bank Spotlight: Tress La'Ree and Nurturing Birth & Wellness

The Milk Bank Spotlight: Tress La'Ree and Nurturing Birth & Wellness

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.

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

To learn more, visit the Nurturing Birth & Wellness website! For more information about the launch event check out a WKYT article and The Milk Bank press release.

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Spring 2018 Bereavement Family Day

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. 

Little Babies, Big Dreams 2018 Luncheon

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! 

Donor and Recipient Testimonial Video

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.

NEW Milk Analysis Process at The Milk Bank


The Milk Bank continually seeks to provide the highest quality of safe Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM) to infants in most need. We know that the variability of nutritional content of donor milk can be a concern for the adequate growth of fragile infants. We are pleased to be able to provide nutritional analysis of PDHM for each target pool of donor milk. We intentionally mix donors’ milk in volume-specific ways to obtain a minimum of 20 calories per ounce for hospital clients.

Each bottle of milk now contains a label that lists overall caloric content and protein content. To determine and verify these values, milk is tested from each pool of donor milk. Our equipment reads fat, lactose, and protein content of the milk, allowing for specific pooling of milk to ensure adequate calories and protein content. Knowledge of the nutritional content of milk will:

  1. allow for targeting milk for specific babies and
  2. determine specific fortification processes.

While this does not replace the process of monitoring babies’ individual growth, it is an extra tool to ensure optimum nutrients for fragile infants in hospital care. We’re happy to share there will be no increase in the purchase cost for all of our PDHM.

Do you have questions about our new process we can help answer? Email us at engagement@themilkbank.org!

Introducing Our New Staff Member

Hello! I'm Elle Roberts. Two Thursdays ago, I started in my role as the Social Media and Public Awareness Coordinator at The Milk Bank. My time with the organization has been a fantastic whirlwind so far, from playing peek-a-boo with our office baby to pasteurization training with Kendra and pulling a monthly newsletter together with the community engagement team.

I am an artist, writer, and transplant to downtown Indianapolis, my home of nearly five years. I spent my formative years in The Region, the tiny Northwest corner of Indiana, and hold a B.S. in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University in West Lafayette. My work has centered women, young people, social services, and the cultural arts scene since moving to the city in August 2013, including locally renowned grassroots gender equity project shehive. Over the span of my career, I have served several nonprofit organizations in the areas of strategic communications, program coordination, and community engagement.

When I am not at The Milk Bank, I am most likely writing essays and original music, performing my work in creative spaces across Central Indiana, and spending time with my amazing partner and my favorite six-year-old, Liliana.

I am proud to be the newest staff member joining TMB, bringing my love of the written word, communal connection, and indelible creativity to a fantastic team. I have much to learn about TMB, milk banking, breastfeeding, and parenting and I am excited to serve an important mission, providing safe human milk to every baby in need. In my role, I look forward to engaging and building community to support healthy, growing families.  

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More on Pasteurization Equipment

By Jami Marvin, January 2018

Have you ever wondered what really goes into pasteurizing milk? There is so much more to it than anyone ever thinks! We've previously talked about the larger equipment that is required to process milk such as the pasteurizer itself, but there are smaller and equally important pieces as well.


Some of the smallest but most important things we use are data loggers. They are about the size of a hockey puck but their use is of utmost importance. These little things track and log the temperature of the milk every minute during the pasteurization cycle to ensure the milk is properly processed. Without these, we would not be able to show the milk actually went through the pasteurization process. Each batch of milk that is done has an individual graph with the date, time, and temperatures during the cycle.

Another important piece of equipment is something simple - Thermometers! We use both digital and analog thermometers. There is one of each in each of our freezers. The digital thermometers connect to a cloud and log daily temperatures, the analog thermometers back up the digital. Our walk-in freezer is equipped with thermometers that not only email us daily with a log, they also email us to inform us if the power has gone out in case of emergency. This is extremely important during the stormy season!


Labels are another extremely important item we must have. Every deposit, batch and bottle must have a label for us to easily identify who the milk belongs to, where it needs to go, when it expires and what the next step might be for it. The labels allow us to stay extremely organized, which is vital to ensuring we are providing safe pasteurized donor human milk.


The last items to think about are the bottles we use. A bottle is a bottle, right? Wrong!  Our bottles come to us pre-sterilized so that we know the milk is going into a safe container. They include foil seals inside the lids, which are adhered using an induction sealer immediately after being filled. The bottles are specific to the pasteurizer we use. They require cages to hold them in place and to keep them submerged in the water. The bottles must be able to withstand the temperatures of the pasteurization process and the freezer as well. Who would have thought so much was required of a simple bottle?

Providing safe pasteurized donor human milk is our number one priority. All of the safety measures we take are to ensure the fragile babies and premature infants are receiving the best option available, aside from their mothers’ own milk. We are always looking for ways to rise above the standards, whether that be implementing new processes or equipment. It’s all important to the end goal. Why do we do it? The answer is simple. We care.

If you’d like to read up on some of our bigger equipment, check out this blog!

Featured Recipient Story: Olivia Cammack

By Olivia Cammack, December 2017

My name is Olivia Cammack, I am 29 years old and I was born and raised in Indianapolis. I studied Early Childhood Education/Child Development at Tennessee State University in Nashville and have worked as a nanny ever since college. I have always loved children and couldn’t wait to be a mother. I met my husband in January of 2014, we were married in June of 2017 and gave birth to our son in July of 2017. I was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in January of 2016 and was declared in remission in June of 2016. I was diagnosed with the same thing the second time in February of 2017 (also 3 months pregnant). To make a long story short, both the baby and I had a safe, healthy pregnancy, labor and delivery.  I breastfed our son for his first three weeks of life and then I had to begin cancer treatment once again. Before I had him, I always wanted to only give our son the most natural, healthy options (breast milk, homemade baby food, organic solid foods, etc.) so I couldn’t be more grateful for The Milk Bank and how they have provided for my son since I no longer can (due to the medicines being put in my body).

I feel it’s important to give my baby donor human milk because it gives him everything that he needs at such an early stage in his life. It gives him antibodies that help him fight off anything that he’s not supposed to have and will help keep him from getting sick while it’s life threatening. Also, there are so many bad things in formula. The main thing that stands out to me is sugar. I want my son to have as little sugar as possible because it is empty calories and can contribute to all kinds of diseases in his future.


It’s hard for me to put into words how much the gift of donor milk means to me. It means the world to me! I was devastated when I found out I would no longer be able to breastfeed my son especially because it was going so well. When my doula informed me of The Milk Bank I couldn’t stop crying tears of joy. I was so happy that there was another food option besides formula to give my newborn son.

People should support the mission of The Milk Bank because there are parents/caregivers out there who want to give their children the best life has to offer. As a newborn, babies need breast milk, but that’s not an option for some parents/caregivers. Whether it be medical reasons, adoption or premature babies (or many, many more) The Milk Bank gives us the opportunity to give our children exactly what they need even when we can’t. I appreciate The Milk Bank, it’s employees, volunteers, supporters and last but not least the mothers who donate the breast milk out of the goodness of their hearts tremendously and don’t know where I would be without them. You make the world a better place and so many of us are so grateful for all that you do! Thank you!

What is The Milk Bank and What Does It Mean?


By Kathy L. Mason, BSN, RNC-NIC, IBCLC
Lactation Consultant
Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health

November 16, 2017

Have you had a baby in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or Special Care Nursery?  Then you may be aware of The Milk Bank located here in Indianapolis and the important service it provides.

The Milk Bank is a Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) regulated milk bank and is located at 5060 E. 62nd Street.  It provides pasteurized donor human milk to hospitals and outpatients throughout the United States.  Being able to obtain safe donor milk for premature and ill infants at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health is of utmost importance.

A mother’s own milk is best but if a baby cannot receive its own mother’s milk, or if a mother is unable to provide milk for her baby, donor human milk is recommended as the next best option.  Having a baby hospitalized in a NICU or special care nursery creates issues that may make it more difficult for a mother to provide enough milk for her baby.  Some mothers are unable to provide milk due to other medical conditions of their own. 

Babies born prematurely or sick have immature or compromised immune systems and are at increased risk for feeding intolerance.  For premature babies, using mother’s own milk instead of formula can decrease the risk of a serious infection that can occur in the intestines called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Donor human milk has also been associated with a decreased risk of NEC when compared to formula. In the Riley Hospital for Children NICU, most babies born weighing less than 1500 grams (about 3 pounds) receive mother’s own milk or donor human milk for at least the first two weeks of life.

Having a HMBANA regulated milk bank allows hospitals like Riley Hospital to obtain safe human milk for the most fragile infants.   It is important for donated human milk to be processed in a standard and safe way as certain diseases such as HIV can possibly be transmitted through human milk.  Mothers are relieved and reassured to know that the donated milk their baby is receiving is from volunteer donors whose health histories have been screened, and that the milk has been pasteurized.

Reflections Over 10 Years

By Janice O'Rourke, MPA, RD

October 16, 2017


I remember the October day 10 years ago when I walked into The Milk Bank and discovered that our first audit was starting on Monday, two working days away, and nothing had been done to prepare for it.  That was my main introduction to this little organization with five staff, 1500 square feet of space in an old doctor’s office, and a few ordering hospitals and grants to keep us solvent.  It was a tough way to get my feet wet as a first-time nonprofit Executive Director, but I survived.  And learned.  I learned so many things; things that my management, nonprofit, and philanthropy classes had never taught me.  But I suppose that’s to be expected.  This is the real world.
One thing I have come to realize is that I have a dream job.  I have been so fortunate to be a part of The Milk Bank as it grew from a toddler to a teenager to a full-fledged adult organization. To see the passion of the Board members and the staff.  To watch The Milk Bank outgrow our space, twice, and continue to add more staff into diverse roles.  And to see my role change from pasteurizing and packing milk, to being the person that gets to guide the vision.  With a lot of help.
I heard in a seminar the other day that leading nonprofits is a joy.  Joy is what I see, every day, in the donors that selflessly send their milk to us; in the pasteurization staff that works to pasteurize that milk and send it to the tiny, fragile babies; in the clinical staff that helps moms through the process of becoming a milk donor; in the community engagement staff that spreads the word and work of The Milk Bank within the community so we can continue our journey; and, yes, in the fiscal and administrative staff that make sure we are not two days away from an audit with nothing done.  It’s really an honor to see and feel that joy every day.
So to all of you: staff, Board members, donors, and supporters of The Milk Bank everywhere, I say thank you.  For all that you’ve done for The Milk Bank, and all that you’ve done to help me in the past 10 years.  I look forward to seeing what The Milk Bank looks like 10 years from now.  Because I know that it will continue to grow, prosper, and help those NICU babies.  With or without me, it will survive and thrive.

NICU Awareness Month

By Megan Lee September 18, 2017

No one gets pregnant and expects to have their babies end up in the NICU nor do we as women think that we are going to face a challenge when breastfeeding.

My name is Megan Lee and my story starts about two and a half years ago on January 15th. My water broke unexpectedly about 30 weeks along. My twins, Declan and Breck, were not due until March 23rd. While I was being driven to the hospital, I was hoping what happened was not my amniotic fluid. Needless to say it was. I was kept in the hospital for 2 days and given magnesium while the boys were able to have two steroid shots. The evening of the 16th, I started going into labor. January 17th at 3:40 p.m. Declan Jenkins was born naturally weighing in at 4 pounds. We anticipated Breck to come shortly after but that was not the case. 6 hours later at 8:41pm I had a cesarean. Breck was born at 3 pounds 11 ounces.

Both boys were whisked away to the NICU immediately and I don't really remember much from the next 24 hours. I remember a lady coming in and helping me two hours after I gave birth to Breck to pump. But when I finally was able to hold them and be somewhat mentally unclouded I do remember a nurse telling me that they seem to be doing so well that we should be out of the NICU within a month.

Everything was such a whirlwind like remembering immediately to pump every 2 hours and going from taking care of myself to taking care of two little boys as much as I could with them being in the NICU. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the next 4 days with the boys snuggling and doing the skin on skin. On the fourth day, one of the doctors pulled me aside and told me that they were going to give Breck an x-ray because he seemed fussy and one of the nurses just had a hunch to do so. I had been warned of the up and downs in the NICU and tried not to get too worked up about this. The X-ray revealed that Breck had a hole in his intestines and was going to be rushed to emergency surgery in hopes of cleaning out any stuff that had made its way into his body cavity and also to repair the hole.

I had never felt paralyzing fear like I did the day of his first surgery. They took his intestines and brought them up and made an ostomy bag. 6 weeks later he would have a reconnect surgery. The only thing I could do at that point was pump. All I remember was crying my eyes out trying to pump. It's a memory I'll never forget.

Another memory I'll never forget is the surgery team not knowing that I was behind when together they reaffirmed amongst each other, "we got this, we can do this". For some reason, in that moment, I truly realized the severity of the situation but also loved witnessing this moment between the doctors and the anesthesiologist who were about to work on my son.

Unfortunately, I'm a gal that has anxiety and at one point I wasn't sure if I was going to leave the hospital with both of my kids. It's a feeling I would never want anybody to go through. It was the longest 4 hours of my entire life. I'll never forget it to this day and when I found out he was out of surgery and everything went okay, I broke down. I thanked God a million times. Even though I knew we had a long road to recovery and nothing could have prepared me for seeing that little body hooked up to a ventilator, I somehow knew everything was going to be okay. Even though I knew things were going to be okay it was extremely hard for me to be in the room with Breck to see him on the machine and it tore me up deeply and severely. I continue to feel guilty about that but I'm working through it.

The next few weeks were full of ups and downs as goes the NICU. Eventually, I wasn't able to supplement my boys like I was able to in the beginning. I never made much over an ounce and a half but when they're that little that was enough. They asked me if I would be interested in donor milk. I thought it was the coolest thing that this resource was available to me and I said absolutely. The milk bank provided donor milk for me when I wasn't able to give both of my boys enough which is another super emotional thing for me.

Here are both my boys in the NICU with all these other people taking care of them and everyone keeps telling me pump, breast feed, pump, breastfeed and it's the only thing you can do for them right now. I felt like the biggest failure as a mother before I even really began to be a mom because I wasn't able to provide them enough. The Milk Bank helped relieve some of that anxiety and pressure on top of everything else. And I'll be forever grateful to that.

Week six in the NICU was scheduled for Breck's reconnect surgery. I had prayed prior to this to God so many times to not let me feel like I did the first time. He answered those prayers. I was a cool and collected mom. I just let go and let God. Breck came out of surgery and I cried again because I knew then I was for sure leaving that hospital with both of my boys. 

It's very interesting to me that my boys were in such good shape and good health in the beginning that they believed they would be coming home with me within a month. Declan, I believe broke my water to save his brother Breck from what could have been a worse situation.

Even after two surgeries Declan & Breck only came home two days apart, two months after they were born. It was only a week after Breck's second surgery.  It goes to show you that these babies in the NICU are truly great fighters and stronger than you could ever imagine.

Take Your Baby to Work

By Jami Marvin, August 29, 2017

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When I tell people that I was able to bring my son to work with me until he was six months old, I am often met with others telling me how great of an idea that is and that I was lucky to have had that opportunity. Believe me, I did not take that for granted. Knowing that my next little one will also be joining me in the office until he/she is six months old is a big comfort because I know the impact it makes on our breastfeeding relationship. My son spent the vast majority of his first six months of life by my side. He continued to breastfeed until he was 23 months old, and was actually quite difficult to transition to taking bottles at daycare. I learned a lot with my son, and I plan on using what I learned to make sure the next time around goes even more smoothly.

There are many things to consider when bringing your baby to work with you, especially when you have a full-time job, because you basically spend as much time at the office as you do at home. This can require strategic planning and sometimes doubling up on supplies. I made sure that I always had diapers, wipes and extra clothes (for him and myself) in my desk. I also had a travel bassinet and a bouncer that stayed in my office. It’s not all sunshine and daises when you are in the middle of the work day and have to change yet another diaper on a tired grumpy baby, but we made it work. When he was old enough to sit up, I brought a walker in for him to be able to move around a bit. He really liked that! He also began crawling while at work with me. It’s so nice to not have to miss those milestones! He would often crawl out of my office and down the hall to visit my coworkers. That’s when I knew it was time to get him started in daycare. A mobile baby is much more difficult to bring to the office.

The most important thing I had to remember, was that my son was my responsibility. I was not bringing him to work with me so that I could save on daycare and have my coworkers help watch him; I was bringing him to work so that he could continue to feed on demand and spend as much time with me as he needed. I did a lot of baby wearing and he came with me everywhere. I didn’t let the fact that my baby was with me stop be from being an effective employee. The program can only work if you are actually working. Sometimes that involved creative thinking on how to accomplish a task safely and effectively, but at the end of the day, the job was done.

At home, I made sure I had some “me” time. I didn’t need a lot of it, but it was nice to run to the store by myself once in a while, or take a hot shower without being needed. Being a mom is tough, and support from both the work place and at home makes a huge difference.

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It was difficult at times to juggle being a mom, and an employee. It was also one of the most rewarding experiences for myself to know that I was there for the very early milestones and my coworkers loved the opportunity to get baby snuggles as often as they needed. This year’s World Breastfeeding Week focus was on Sustaining Breastfeeding Together. The policy that The Milk Bank has that allows their employees who are breastfeeding mothers the opportunities to bring our babies to work with us is a prime example of this mission. I truly have the best job in the world.

In October, I will be back at work again with a new little one. I definitely feel more prepared having been through this before. I am excited to once again have this opportunity, and I’m sure that there will be many pictures shared on social media in the near future!