Urgent call for moms to save, donate extra breast milk as shortage strikes milk banks across US

NOW: Urgent call for moms to save, donate extra breast milk as shortage strikes milk banks across US

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- There's an urgent call for breastfeeding moms to save their extra milk.

Milk banks across the country are suffering a shortage and looking for healthy donors to replenish their stock. 

The Human Milk Banking Association of Northern America (HMBANA) said current milk supply is being used up almost as quickly as it becomes available. Demand is going up and donations are going down.

Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes supplies babies in Wisconsin and Illinois with donor breast milk.

"It's not just about the pandemic. The reality is because donor milk is such a good option, such a healthy choice for babies, we've just seen an increased demand," Program Manager Susan Urbanski said. 

From 2020 to 2021, demand for donor breast milk increased by 40 percent, according to Urbanski. 

"We just need a few more (donors) to meet that increase in demand," Urbanski said.

About 80 percent of donations to Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes goes directly to hospitals, primarily for premature babies in the neonatal intensive care units.

"We use donor milk, because an exclusive human diet is best for that baby's growth and development," Dr. Jennifer Thomas, a pediatrician at Advocate Aurora Health, said. 

Donations can also bridge the gap for moms who might not have enough of their own milk yet.

"They're just having a really hard time latching on and feeding and we need a little bit of extra milk until mom's milk comes in a little bit more fully and baby starts eating better," said Anne Monteagudo, RN and lactation consultant at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's.

Milk banks are looking for moms who can pump a few extra ounces each day. 

"It felt amazing to know one teaspoon of milk can actually provide a full feeding for that little one-pound baby in the NICU," Urbanski said about her time as a donor.

If healthy, lactating moms are interested in becoming donors, they can visit Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes' website or call 847-262-5134.

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