Witham Health Services Opens First Milk Depot
Writer / Janelle Morrison Photography / Submitted
Witham Health Services has partnered with The Milk Bank, a community-supported, not-for-profit organization that launched in 2005, to open the 30th active milk depot in Indiana. This milk collection site provides a convenient drop-off for women to donate their extra breast milk for processing at The Milk Bank. The milk is delivered to fragile infants in hospital neonatal intensive care units throughout the state. The two organizations celebrated the grand opening of Boone County’s first milk depot October 11.
“The Milk Bank hopes to continue forging partnerships with organizations throughout the Midwest to make the process of human milk donation easier for donor moms and families, while also helping to support breastfeeding in local communities,” stated Janice O’Rourke, executive director of The Milk Bank.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, human milk is the standard food for all infants, including premature and sick infants. Human milk provides optimal nutrition and unique health benefits that last beyond infancy. Mothers who are interested in donating milk can call to set up a phone consultation with The Milk Bank’s donor mother coordinator. Individuals then follow up with a written questionnaire and a blood draw at a local lab, all at The Milk Bank’s expense. The Milk Bank was established to improve health outcomes for premature and ill infants, foster better health for children and decrease healthcare expenditures.
Witham’s board-certified lactation consultants Stephanie Cunnyngham and Haley Shirley have been an integral part of the milk depot becoming a reality at Witham. Both consultants offer more than just their knowledge of lactation issues and concerns; they bring compassion and a sympathetic ear to the mothers who are donating and to the mothers whose babies are in need of human donor milk.
“As far as the donors go, we have moms who donate from all over the state,” Cunnyngham explained. “Moms donate for a lot of reasons. Some moms have an excessive supply, but we also have moms who donate because they’ve lost their baby, and they’re trying to work through the grieving process. Donating helps them through the grief process and makes them feel good knowing that their milk is being used to help save the life of another baby. We want it to be personal and meaningful and to be a familiar and friendly face to them when they drop off their donations with us.”
Currently, the closest milk depots to Witham are located in east Carmel and Lafayette. Zionsville and other local area moms won’t have to travel 45 minutes now that the Witham milk depot has opened.
Cunnyngham concluded, “We use human donor milk at Witham and order it from The Milk Bank every couple of months. We have it onsite for moms who may need to supplement for their babies for one reason or another. We give them that option that if their milk supply’s not in or if the mom is really sick and is unable to breastfeed her baby, then we can offer her the option of formula or human donor milk that we get from The Milk Bank. We can offer them that choice, and not all hospitals do that.”
Witham Health Services is located at 2605 N. Lebanon St. in Lebanon, Indiana. For more information about becoming a milk donor, please visit The Milk Bank website at themilkbank.org or call 317-536-1670.