Breastmilk donations and orders increase in IL and WI

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — Many parents are down to their last box of formula and still can’t find it on store shelves. But some find an alternative with breast milk they can buy.

Based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, the nonprofit Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes provides safe pasteurized breast milk to hospitals and families in Illinois and Wisconsin.

“Right now, we are blessed with a truly fantastic milk supply. Our donors have broken records over the past two months,” said Susan Urbanski, the organization’s program manager.

Urbanski of the milk bank says many mothers who donate are motivated to donate because of the shortage of infant formula.

The milk bank says the average number of donors per month has increased by almost 50% compared to last year and that demand is surprisingly high. The non-profit organization saw an 84% increase in breast milk orders in May compared to last May.

“We try to help as many families as possible,” she said.

Susan Urbanski

Urbanski says families with babies with special dietary needs can’t switch to a different formula, so they’re particularly turning to the milk bank for help.

If you want to buy, breast milk is not cheap. It’s $20 for a four-ounce bottle. But there is a reason for this. The milk selection process is meticulous.

“We do a phone interview with every potential donor. If she passes that phone interview, we make a written request. We’ve contacted mom’s medical provider for clearance. And we’re also sending every mom for a blood test. before she can even fall out of her milk. Then, once the milk arrives, we test the milk. We do bacteriological screening. We pasteurize the milk. We pool the milk. So each bottle contains milk from a few different mothers to increase the nutritional profile,” says Urbanski.

In some cases, the milk bank may charge for insurance, but there is no guarantee that you will be covered.

“Because there is not yet mandatory insurance coverage in the state of Wisconsin, we use our charitable care program and try to provide discounts to Wisconsin families whenever possible,” said said Urbanski.

Urbanski stresses that the first step for families is to speak with their doctor.

“Find out what the safe options are for your particular baby and make sure you have a good plan in place,” Urbanski says.

With the supply of infant formula falling far short of demand, safe breastmilk from another mother is an option.

“Families are desperate. They are trying to do everything they can to meet their baby’s needs, so hopefully we can provide a really safe choice for these babies.”

If you are interested in donating milk, click here.

To order milk, you can click here.

To find a local milk bank anywhere in North America, click here.

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