Got breast milk? Dedicated moms help other moms when babies need - KCTV5 News

Got breast milk? Dedicated moms help other moms when babies need it most

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Ask any doctor after you have a baby and they’ll tell you breastfeeding is best, but what you don’t always hear is that it’s not always easiest. (KCTV5) Ask any doctor after you have a baby and they’ll tell you breastfeeding is best, but what you don’t always hear is that it’s not always easiest. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Ask any doctor after you have a baby and they’ll tell you breastfeeding is best, but what you don’t always hear is that it’s not always easiest.

Kansas City has one of the regions only milk banks along with hundreds of dedicated moms helping other moms when their babies need it most.

There are twice as many milk banks in the United States today as there were in 2012, and Saint Luke's Health System is home to the Heart of America Mother’s Milk Bank.

“All day, every day, time to make the donuts ... time to make the breast milk,” laughs Dr. Barbara Carr, a neonatologist at Saint Luke's on the Plaza.

Tucked into a tiny corner of the hospital is a room that houses what doctors and moms frequently call “liquid gold” breast milk.

“Our goal is to make this milk available to as many babies as possible across the country so that no baby should have to go without,” Carr says. “Back in 2009, we were looking at ways we can improve nutrition for the babies under our care in the NICU and we started researching use of donor milk and found that it was the most effective thing we could use for babies. The healthiest thing we could use for babies when we didn't have moms own milk available to us for whatever reason that might be."

Oftentimes, when a baby is born prematurely, mothers have a tough time getting breastfeeding going either because the baby can’t physically do it yet or because her own milk simply hasn’t come in.

In Kansas City, every premature baby has the option of breast milk thanks to hundreds of local women who are lucky enough to produce not only enough for their own baby but enough to help others too.

“These are women that are incredibly altruistic and very giving, and they see the value in their own child. They want to be able to help someone else and it's a wonderful thing,” Carr said.

Sara Kral gave birth to Lyla and Archer six months ago and used breast milk from the milk bank.

“They were born a month early and they spent 15 days in the NICU,” Kral said.

Once Kral got rolling with breastfeeding on her own it turned out she too had enough to donate.

“I know how lucky and fortunate I felt when my babies received donor milk, so I was thankful I got to do that for some other babies,” she said.

Here’s how it works

The mother’s themselves are screened. Not only their medical histories are required, but their blood is tested and they need approval by not only their doctor but their child’s doctor.

Mom then brings in the donated milk It is screened for any substances that could harm a baby. Then, the milk bank breaks down the compound of each donated bag by calorie and protein counts to get the nutritional value. It is then it’s pasteurized and homogenized, meaning mixed with breast milk from other moms. It’s then poured into smaller bottles before being pasteurized for bacteria, again.

The milk is good for one year after it’s processed.

Carr says there’s simply nothing better.

“When we're using human milk, those babies tolerate that feeding much better, so we're able to get them off of the nutritional fluids that we have to use and get rid of the iv catheters sooner and, ultimately, make their hospital stays shorter. they’re healthier. Their immune systems are stronger, and if you believe some of the data, they're smarter," Carr said.

Each mom can only donate her milk for one year even if she’s still nursing her own baby, because the composition of breast milk changes as a child grows.

If you’d like to donate, click here.

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