What is a Human Milk Bank?
A human milk bank is a service provided by the hospitals or nursing homes, where breast milk is collected, screened and stored. This milk is donated by healthy lactating mothers, who willingly donate the milk. This milk plays a vital role in meeting the nutritional requirements of babies biologically born to other mothers. Some people consider this milk no less than ‘liquid gold’, as it contains all the essential components, which are required for a newborn baby’s growth and development.
The factors responsible for feeding an infant with donated breast milk are:
1. Being a biological mother, if you are experiencing low milk production, then you can supplement your own breast milk with the breast milk of a donor.
2. If you have undergone double mastectomy and are unable to produce sufficient amount of breast milk.
3. If you are undergoing a treatment or are on medications that are conflicting with your breast feeding.
4. When you are suffering from an infectious disease, and do not want to compromise on your baby’s nutritional requirements.
5. If you have insufficient glandular tissue, which gives rise to the need for supplemental breast milk.
Planning to donate milk? Requirements include
1. A healthy lactating mother, who tests negative for VDRL (Venereal Disease Research Laboratory) test and HIV (Human immunodeficiency virus).
2. Someone who doesn’t consume any drugs and is Hepatitis free can donate breast milk after undertaking a series of tests, and with the final consent of a doctor.
Process Involved in Donating Breast Milk
1. Consult your doctor if you have excess milk
Being a biological mother, it is your primary responsibility to feed your own child. In case if you have an excess of milk, then donating your milk could be helpful in feeding a child, whose mother is not able to breastfeed.
2. Apply online and review subsequently
So, if you are planning to become a breast milk donor, first you need to fill an application form which is available online. This form includes essential details related to your medical history. Consent from a doctor is mandatory, before you become a donor.
3. Mandatory testing of breast milk donor
Before you become a donor, you need to undertake certain tests that will be arranged for you at the laboratory. Here, you will be asked for a cheek swab, to create your DNA profile. This is usually practised so that, in case you ship your donated breast milk later, your DNA can be matched with it. This step is really crucial as it ensures milk safety.
4. Keeping records and labelling
To ensure the quality of milk, human milk bank will provide you detailed instructions related to storage and collection of human breast milk. Along with this, they will provide you with the breast milk storage bag. Once your procedure of becoming a donor gets completed, you can then fill, freeze, label and pack your contribution, to donate it in the respective milk bank.
5. Acceptance on receiving milk
The milk you donate will be accepted by the bank only if it clears all sets of tests, and will finally be prepared as the life-saving option for infants who are critically ill, or due to some reason are unable to receive their biological mother’s milk.
Below is a list of human milk banks in India:
1. Divya Mother Milk Bank, Udaipur, Rajasthan
2. Lokamanya Tilak Hospital (Sion Hospital), Sion, Mumbai
3. Deena Nath Mangeshkar Hospital and Research Centre, Pune
4. SSKM Hospital, Kolkata
5. Institute of Child Health, Egmore, Chennai
6. King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM), Parel, Mumbai
7. Amara Milk Bank (in collaboration with Fortis la Femme), Greater Kailash, New Delhi
8. Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, Byculla, Mumbai
9. Cama Hospital, Fort, Mumbai
10. King George’s Medical University (KGMU), Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow
So, being a new mother, if you are facing any issues while feeding your infant, take a step right now, to collect quality assured milk for your lovable infant.