Southern Maine Health Care now offers donor breast milk
Southern Maine Health Care is now offering donor milk as part of its maternity services.
It's available to babies at the Biddeford hospital whose parents want to feed exclusively with breast milk but can't. That can be due to inadequate supply or if the mother is taking certain medications.
Nurse manager Amy Desmond says the breast feeding rate at discharge at SMHC is 54%, and using donor milk can boost that rate.
"Usually into the 77 percentile versus in the 50 percentile," she says. "So our goal is to hopefully promote an increase in that exclusive breastfeeding rate at discharge, and hopefully at 6 months of age, they're still breastfeeding."
The executive director of Mothers' Milk Bank Northeast, Deborah Youngblood, says breast milk has important health benefits.
"It lowers the risk of certain cancers, of diabetes, of SIDS, of asthma, of celiac." Youngblood says. "The list goes on. And it also improves neurodevelopment."
Babies are eligible for donated milk while they're patients at SMHC. Parents who wish to continue can purchase donor breast milk from the milk bank. It costs $4.80 an ounce, but Youngblood says typically, supplemental breast milk is only needed temporarily, and subsidies are available. MaineCare also covers donor milk.
Southern Maine Health Care is the seventh hospital in Maine to offer donated breast milk from Mothers' Milk Bank Northeast. Youngblood says they're currently looking for partners in Down East Maine to become dispensaries, which provide donor milk for families once their babies have come home.