For the first time, it’s going to be easier for Okanagan mothers to donate extra breastmilk to the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank.
A special milk drive is being held June 21st in Penticton, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Vernon.
Meggie Ross with OK Breastfeeding says milk donations are especially important for sick or premature babies because of the illnesses they can get.
Human milk has properties that can’t be replicated in formula, helping prevent serious illness and even newborn death
” There’s something called necrotizing enterocolitis which is a bit of a stomach infection that can really cause problems and premature babies can die from it and if they get breast milk, they’re less likely to die.”
Until now, mothers with extra milk who want to donate have to pay a courier to send that milk to Vancouver.
Okanagan Breastfeeding is organizing the milk drive June 21st at the Boys and Girls Club, but there is a screening process.
What they do is they find out if the woman is in general good health and if her baby is under 18 months of age. They want a woman to be a non-smoker, not have any, there’s some specific medical problems that would rule them out.”
Meggie Ross says it’s a matter of ensuring any milk donated is going to be safe.
” There will be some different questions that they ask the mothers. So they’ll screen them to make sure that the milk is safe and then the mom has the opportunity to start saving some milk before June 21st.”
There is a blood test to take and the woman’s doctor also has to agree to the donation.
Frances Jones, Director of the BC Women’s Milk Bank explains that “the more milk we receive at BC Women’s, the more babies we can help. ”
Very sick and premature babies from the Okanagan are cared for in the BC Women’s NICU, and babies who are a little bigger and healthier are cared for closer to home at the Kelowna General Hospital NICU.
All these babies can benefit from the generosity of Okanagan mothers”.
It’s hoped that this milk drive will lead to a permanent milk donation centre in the Okanagan managed by Interior Health.
More information can be found at the organization’s website at www.okanaganbreastfeeding. org
OK Breastfeeding is a not for profit community organization whose mission is to support breastfeeding families in communities.
Members include health care professionals, community leaders, and families.
Its vision is that breastfeeding once again becomes the cultural norm for infant feeding and that communities will be healthier places when women and families are given the support they need and deserve.