CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Illinois - Franciscan Heath Lullaby Birthplace in Chicago Heights is proud to be the home of the first human milk depot in Chicago's Southland.
Pasteurized donor human milk is an important nutritional therapy for many at-risk Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies, as it provides numerous benefits in the absence of the mother's milk, including infection-fighting factors, active growth and development hormones, improved digestion and ideal nutrition. While Lullaby Birthplace supports breastfeeding whenever possible, donor milk can be used when the mother has a low milk supply, is ill or on certain medications, or in cases of adoption or surrogacy.
"Here in the nursery at Franciscan Health we support breastfeeding as the healthiest choice of nutrition for all of our newborns," said Samir Wassef, MD, Director of Neonatology. "Becoming a milk depot site supports being able to provide human donor milk for the most fragile of our newborns."
The milk depot at Lullaby Birthplace collects human milk donations from healthy, lactating women who are approved donors through Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. The donations are then sent to the milk bank, where they are pasteurized to eliminate any viruses and bacteria. After pasteurization, the milk is tested once again for safety and distributed to hospitals.
"Rigorous safety protocols ensure that pasteurized donor human milk is safe when it's provided from a milk bank that adheres to guidelines from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Potential donors are blood tested and thoroughly screened for communicable diseases, activities that increase the risk of blood borne diseases, and the use of tobacco, alcohol and medications," says Summer Kelly, Executive Director, Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes. "Milk collected from Franciscan Health Lullaby Birthplace in Chicago Heights milk depot will help support the complex nutritional needs of sick and premature babies in Illinois and Wisconsin."
"Human breast milk is like medicine to our most fragile infants," explains Teresa Berki, RN, Lactation Consultant, Lullaby Birthplace. "Providing babies in our community with donated breast milk supports proven evidence that human breast milk supports the health and growth of infants born with low birth weights or other illnesses."
Franciscan Health supports all efforts by mothers to breastfeed their babies. If you're interested in sharing the life-saving gift of milk or for more information, please contact a lactation consultant at Franciscan Health Lullaby Birthplace in Chicago Heights, at 708-756-1000 ext. 53131 or visit www.franciscanhealth.org or www.milkbankwgl.org.
Photo caption: Franciscan Health Chicago Heights Lullaby Birthplace Lactation Consultant Teresa Berki, RN and freezer from Mothers' Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes.