My Introduction to Milk Banking

by Amber McCann, IBCLC

As a very young International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), I encountered a family with a very ill child. They contacted me to see if I might help them locate some breastmilk, which they believed could radically impact their child's health. As I began my search, I learned, for the first time about donor milk and HMBANA milk banks. In addition, I was introduced to the world of mother-to-mother milk sharing. I came away from the experience completely overcome with the deeply held belief that all babies, even babies whose families were not able to provide human milk, should have the right to access their biologically normal food.

As a part of my journey, I began to connect with the Indiana Mothers' Milk Bank on Facebook and Twitter. I consistently found them to be my "go to" milk bank when I had questions about how to connect families who either were in need of donor milk or who wanted to become donors. So, when the stars aligned for me to take a visit to Indianapolis to speak at the Midwest Lactation Conference , I quickly reached out to see if I might be able to come tour the facility and gain a stronger understanding about how the whole breastfeeding community, and especially IBCLCs, could increase donations to HMBANA milk banks.

I was welcomed with open arms and what I learned greatly expanded my understanding of what goes into the donor milk process. I was moved by the wall of acknowledgement of the bereaved families who have given in their days of grief. I wanted to jump up and down and cheer loudly when I saw the freezers FULL of milk donations...the oxytocin was flowing.

I cried tears of gratitude when, in the room where the milk is processed, Carissa Hawkins, IMMB Communication Coordinator said to me, "It smells like love in here."

Donor milk radically changes the path so many families are on. I’m proud to work with families who reap its benefits and I’m crazy excited that in Pittsburgh, where I live, the Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank is in development. Soon, families in my hometown will cheer right along side me as we say “Donor Milk Saves Lives!”