ARVADA, Colo. — Colorado's only donor human milk bank is seeing an unprecedented demand this year.
“My son was born a little early. He was born at 36 weeks at a hospital nearby,” said Rachel Goodman. “It was a surprise needless to say when my water broke in the middle of the night."
Hudson was considered late pre-term, so he needed some extra help to pull through.
"We were shocked to learn that he had hypoglycemia, which is pretty typical for a 36-weeker,” said Goodman. "Even though we were breastfeeding right away, it was still not enough to keep his blood sugar up. So he needed to supplement with a little bit of donor milk. I was so grateful it was available. I had never heard of donor milk at the time."
Goodman received the donor milk from the Mother's Milk Bank, the only donor human milk bank in Colorado and one of the largest in the U.S.
"We do serve hundreds of hospitals across the country. So we do have a huge responsibility to make sure all those babies can be fed,” said Rebecca Heinrich, director of Mother's Milk Bank at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Network. “It means that we are feeding babies, but it also means that we need more supply from our generous donor parents out in the community."
Heinrich said the nonprofit has seen a 10% increase in what the milk bank’s hospitals are requesting.
"We are seeing additional clinicians learn about all the wonderful things that donor human milk can do for patients. And at the same time, we're also seeing a baby boom this time of year,” Heinrich explained.
Heinrich said donor human milk can boost a premature baby’s immune system so it can fight off germs.
Once the donated milk arrives at the milk bank, it is safely thawed, then pasteurized, tested and sent out once it's approved.
While Mother’s Milk Bank has received about 1,000 donors in 2023, they need more.
"It makes a really huge impact on families and babies and helping them be truly set up for success,” said Goodman.
Mother's Milk Bank stresses it's important to make sure your own baby comes first before you donate. However, if you have extra supply to share, you can visit the nonprofit's website to see if you qualify.