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Frigid temps, illness and breastfeeding

Frigid temps, illness and breastfeeding

With frigid temperatures blowing across the Midwest, The Milk Bank offers a few suggestions on breastfeeding during colder months and the presence of illness.

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…

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

Making Breastfeeding Work at Work

5 Benefits of Babies to the Workplace

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


baby in workplace Collage


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


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


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


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


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









How to Make More Breastmilk without Fenugreek

How to Make More Breastmilk WITHOUT Fenugreek

by Sarah Long, IBCLC, Clinical Coordinator, The Milk Bank


Becoming  milk donor is something we value here at the milk bank. Being in a position to have excess milk after meeting the needs of your own baby or donating your precious resource after the loss of a child is both rewarding and hard work. We often receive phone calls from mothers who have been protecting their milk supply by taking herbal remedies such as fenugreek, mothers' milk tea or milk thistle. The use of such galactagogues will prevent us from accepting the milk from an otherwise suitable donor. So how can you make more milk without the help of herbs?


Back to basics, the supply and demand phenomenon How to make more Milk WITHOUT Fenugreek {}

Your body is an incredible factory when it comes to making milk! Your body makes milk because your baby or pump signals your brain when the nipple and breast are stimulated. The brain then makes hormones and these hormones tell your body to make milk. These hormones also are responsible for releasing the milk.

I like to think of breastmilk as a product in a store. The store will order a set amount of the product for sale, if the product, your breastmilk, flies off the shelf and the shelf is empty, the shelf being your breast, the store will contact the manufacturer, your brain and body to order more of the product, your milk. In contrast the opposite can occur if the product, your milk does not sell, then store will hold off ordering anymore until it is sold, therefore telling your body to stop making breastmilk.

An empty breast will therefore stimulate your brain for more milk to be made, therefore regular removal of milk is the most basic way any mother can make more milk.

Another sometimes overlooked method of ensuring a good supply comes from the power of touch. Your baby, your hands, all have the power to help increase milk production. Your breasts are very sensitive and extremely receptive to massage, this increases blood flow. Therefore helping with milk production and milk flow. Here is great information on Hands on Pumping. 


Your “equipment

Whether  your baby or your breast pump, the key to maintaining a good milk supply is a good latch when breastfeeding and a well-fitting pump flange while pumping. If you have any concerns with flange size or the effectiveness of your pump, Let us know, we want to help!

The art of pumping effectively lies in frequency, it is not usual for mothers to pump after they have fed their babies, this further helps to stimulate the breast as it is “empty”. Regular pumping sessions, coupled with breast massage and compression are the most effective ways to remove milk. Pumping sessions should not typically last longer than 15mins, or two “let downs”  when pumping both breasts simultaneously. Relaxation techniques and a warm compress also can help with supply and milk ejection.

Why the exclusion of herbs and alternative therapies

We are often asked, "If herbs are safe for my own baby, why do you exclude donors who use herbal remedies?"  The answer is this: donated breastmilk is provided to the most vulnerable and fragile NICU infants and any potential donation that may have un approved medications can run the risk of harm to an infant recipient. To date there is little evidence to support the safe use of herbal remedies. To ensure the safety of all recipients, we do not accept milk that has been pumped with the use of herbs. If you have been using herbs and would still like to become a donor, please contact us for wait times. The occasional use doesn't eliminate a donor, it does eliminate milk that is pumped while taking herbal remedies.


Diet and lifestyle

This is simple, a healthy, well balanced diet will provide excellent breast milk. There are no special foods that have been proven to increase supply. Eat to hunger and drink to thirst is a general rule of thumb. Remember, those “lactation cookies” may contain herbs which would prevent us from accepting your precious resource. Always let us know of any supplements and vitamins you may be taking as some may contain hidden herbal supplements or excessive high doses of vitamins.


Please let us know if you have concerns, we have a lactation consultant on staff, who is always happy to discuss and milk supply issues.


Pumping: 5 Tips to Make Pumping Easier

Pumping: 5 Tips to Make Pumping Easier

By: Sarah Long, IBCLC

  1. Relax. Find a secure, private location where you won't be interrupted if your are pumping in a public space. Ensuring you won't be interrupted will help you relax and express more milk. Breast massage before pumping can help facilitate a let down also.
  2. Do your Flanges Fit? Making sure you have a proper fit can make for a more pleasant pumping experience. Here is a good tutorial.
  3. Don't pay attention to how much milk is coming out: cover your flanges with a nursing cover or towel and focus your attention on something else. Sure you wanna make sure your not spilling milk out of the bag or bottle but don't spend your entire pumping session watching the milk come out. Paying attention to how much or how little is being pumped can cause undue stress. Stress can lead to less milk. My favorite distraction was photos and videos of my baby on my smart phone. Watching her helped me make more milk.
  4. Create a Pumping Basket: Keeping the things you'll need in one location can help make getting ready to pump faster. Keep water, a towel, a snack and extra pumping supplies handy. Keeping everything in one basket that you can grab when it time to pump means you won't have to interrupt your pumping session for water or a snack.
  5. Pumping is an appointment: Pumping at consistent times throughout the day or week is best. Schedule your pumping sessions on your work calendar and don't double book yourself. Pumping is important not only for your child but also your comfort throughout the day.
  6. Ask for HELP if you need it: There are lots of resources out there to help. Visit your local Breastfeeding USA or Le Leche League meeting or contact an IBCLC.

5 Way to Prevent Breast Milk Contamination

5 ways to prevent contamination
5 ways to prevent contamination

Yesterday, we were peppered with questions about the recent study from the Nationwide Children't Hospital about the likelihood of breast milk purchased over the internet being contaminated. While this has garnered a lot of media attention, it might also be leaving potential Milk Bank Donors wondering how to safely collect and store breast milk. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Wash your hands. Wash your pumping parts. Wash anything that comes into contact with your breasts. Wash them after each pumping session with warm soapy water, dry them with a paper towel and sterilize them once a day. We know washing all those parts is such a hassle but trust us here. Washing works! 
  2. Pump and store your precious breast milk in a clean container designed for breast milk. Milk storage bags or bottles work best. Did you know IMMB can provide bags. For Free! 
  3. I BEG you. Please do not overfill milk storage bags. If the bag says it can hold 5 ounces, only put 5 ounces or less in it. Breast milk expands as it freezes and if the storage bag is over filled the seams can burst and because the milk is stored frozen, we won't know until it's thawed. 
  4. Label it. Make sure to write the date the milk was pumped. This ensure that your freezer stash gets donated and/or used (hooray!) before it expires. Milk stored in a side-by-side or top freezer can be donated 6 months from the date it was pumped. Milk stored in a chest or deep freezer can be donated 8 months from the pump date. 
  5. If you are sick, tell us! If you have to be on a medication, call us! If someone in your family who would be near you while pumping is ill, send us an email! Not that your milk will automatically be contaminated but knowing what's going on will help us ensure that the teeny tiny babies we serve stay well. 

Donating breast milk is an act of love and we know that our generous donors would never what to harm a child and in most cases are using the milk they pump for their own child. If you have a question, please feel free to join in on the conversation on Twitteror Facebook.


Can you Donate 100oz? Need a Visual? Click Here!

What does 100 ounces look like?

By: Carissa Hawkins, Communications Coordinator, The Milk Bank

Can you Spare 100 ounces by your baby's 2nd Birthday? Donate Today! {}
Can you Spare 100 ounces by your baby's 2nd Birthday? Donate Today! {}

100 ounces = Nine 7oz frozen bags + Eight 5oz frozen bags

100 ounces = Twenty Five 4 ounce Bottles

100 Ounces, that's all if takes to donate!

If you think you can spare that much, please contact us about donating today! You can find us on Facebook, Twitter or phone us. Or if you're ready, click here to become a Donor!

Milk Bank Misconceptions

What was your first thought when you learned there was a local Milk Bank?  Most often the reaction we receive is disbelief that such a resource has been around for 6 years in Indiana and much longer in other states. Sometimes, people ask if we help pump moms milk in our office. That makes us laugh.

So, today we are going to dispel some misconceptions.

  • Anyone can just drop off milk: No, Sorry. We have to ensure the safety of our milk and therefore our Milk Donors are required to go through an approval process that involves in depth medical questioning, blood testing and the approval of both Mom’s Healthcare Provider and the baby’s Pediatrician,
  • Donors have to pay to donate: Not the case, in fact we cover all the cost of donating including the cost of drawing and testing your blood. We pay for shipping, we can provide milk storage bags, and if  you’re local we’ll pick up your milk.
  • The approval process is too intimidating:  We hope not. From the packet we only need a few forms back. The Healthcare Provider forms will need to be signed by your doctors but we will fax them if you cannot get them signed. After we receive all the forms, the last step is to have your blood drawn. Donors can go to any Quest Diagnostic location and if the Quest location is not convenient, we will ship you a blood draw kit that you can take to a lab or doctors office or nurse to have your blood drawn.   Quick tip: If you ask, most healthcare providers will donate their time to draw your blood if you explain what it’s for.
  • My milk has been in the freezer for 6 months, can you take it? YES! If you are an approved donor, we can take milk that has been stored for 6-7 months. That means milk that was pumped 6 months ago.  If you have a specific question, PLEASE CALL US! We do not want to see your milk go to waste.
  • Why can we only accept milk that has been stored for 6 months?  Breast milk that has been frozen for longer then 6 months starts to loose some of it’s nutritional value.
  • IMMB can only accept milk that was pumped in my first 6 months post partum:  NO! Not true! IMMB can accept milk that has been pumped throughout your child’s first year of life and has been stored in your freezer for no longer then 6 months.
  • I donated 6 months ago when my baby was 3 months old, do I need to be re-approved? Absolutely not! Your initial approval is valid until your baby is a year old and milk you pump can still be accepted after their first birthday if it was pumped before they turned one. Confused yet?
  • IMMB can only accept milk pumped in the bags we provide: Nope. We can send you bags if you need them but we can accept milk in any brand of milk storage bag. Ziplock bags excluded. We prefer bags to milk frozen in storage trays.
  • I don’t have 100 ounces to give right now can I still donate?  YES! We just ask that you provide us with 100oz before your baby’s first birthday,
  • I can’t donate, I’m taking prescription medication. Not so! There are some medications that are perfectly compatible with donating like synthroid or the mini pill. Prenatal vitamins are also fine if they do not contain herbs. We'd love to talk to you about your specific medication before determining if you're medication is compatible with donating. Email us, call us or find us on Facebook or Twitter!
  • Human Milk Banking is too new.  Not true! We’ve been around since 2005 but other Milk Banks associated with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America have been around since the 70’s.
  • IMMB pays Donors for their human milk donation. Nope. Not true. We are a non-profit and rely upon the generosity of our Donors to be able to provide Pasteurized Donor Human Milk to premature and sick NICU babies. We are a community milk bank and look for community grants to help support our Mission also.
  • People only donate for compensation. We have been so blessed to have received the excess breast milk from Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, and Stay at Home Moms who have maintained a pumping schedule when they returned to work and have found they have more then their own child will consume.  Our donors are willing to donate their milk without compensation because they know how important breast milk can be to sick or fragile babies.
  • Pasteurized Donor Human Milk is free.  Unfortunately, PDHM is not free. We wish we could provide the life saving properties of human milk to all babies for free but we can’t. So we charge a processing fee to our ordering hospitals to cover the costs of the milk bank.
  • Why is PDHM so expensive? We wish it wasn’t but unfortunately we process the milk by hand. We thaw it, combine it and bottle it by hand. The only automated part of our process is the actual pasteurization that is done in a machine that brings the milk up to the appropriate temperature for the appropriate amount of time.
  • Why can’t Donors ship milk on Thursdays? Simply because Thursday is too close to the weekend. If the shipping carrier would mess up and not deliver your milk on Friday, we wouldn’t get the box till Monday and there is nothing worse than breast milk sitting unrefrigerated for 3+ days. So, to be on the safe side we ask that Donors only ship to us Monday thru Wednesday.
  • Why isn’t there a Milk Depot near me? We’d like more depots! We’d like to make donating to us the easiest experience possible and Milk Depots help to alleviate the hassle of packing a box, finding dry ice and taking the box to UPS. If you know of a business or organization who would be willing to volunteer their time to be a Milk Depot, let us know!
  • Someone in my home has a cold, can I donate milk pumped durning that time? We ask that you notify us if someone in your household has more then a cold so that we can determine the level of risk to the milk. Most times that is no reason why we cannot accept milk pumped during these times. Our biggest concern is medication. If you become sick and take a medication or herbal treatment, please let us know.
  • I called you today, why didn’t you return my phone call today? Please forgive us if this is the case but please know that we are a staffed with 3 full time employees who wear many hats. Trust us,  we’re just really busy. Please have patience with us. Always feel free to email your need or request, we can answer emails long after we’ve left the office. We're available on Facebook and Twitter too!