“It was an honor to be able to donate my milk to babies in need. I have been blessed to be able to provide my own babies with my milk, and working as a labor and delivery nurse I know how important and beneficial breast milk is to all babies. I am so proud to be able to work for Cheshire Medical Center and be a part of the donor program here.”
– Janelle Black, RN, milk donor
On Thursday, August 3, timed in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week, Cheshire Medical Center in New Hampshire hosted a ribbon-cutting celebration for its new hospital donor milk program and breast milk depot.
In doing so, Cheshire became the fourth of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast’s partner hospitals to both operate a depot and offer pasteurized donor human milk to its patients—and the first to do so from the inception of its program. Enabling families to both donate and receive milk sends a strong message to the community about the value of human milk, and inspires donors, knowing they could be helping babies in their own community. The other hospitals that currently offer both services are Maine Medical Center, South Shore Hospital, and Emerson Hospital.
Enthusiasm for breastfeeding was evident everywhere in this Baby-Friendly Hospital, from the “Breastfeeding welcome here, there, and everywhere!” signs to the prominent educational display on donor milk in the lobby, designed by lactation consultant Emily Nichols, who spearheaded the donor milk program and organized the event. Even non-clinical staff demonstrated support: the director of marketing & communications baked a delicious and beautiful celebratory cake, and administrators had strongly encouraged lactation staff to bring in donor milk as a means of increasing the hospital’s breast milk feeding exclusivity rate.
Along with helping to reduce rates of necrotizing enterocolitis and other prematurity-related diseases, donor milk frequently serves as a bridge to breastfeeding initiation in well-baby units, where babies and mothers need support. This can contribute to a hospital’s exclusive breast milk feeding rates, and most importantly, get mothers and babies off to their best start.
As noted in the Keene Sentinel, Cheshire Medical Center is the tenth hospital in this relatively small state to open a donor milk program. “New Hampshire absolutely gets it,” commented Ann Marie Lindquist, the milk bank’s director of community relations. “People really understand the value of something like this. It’s a state that understands breastfeeding. This depot will be a wonderful community outreach mechanism.”
Screening to become a breast milk donor is done through an easy four-step process. Once accepted for donation, milk can be shipped door-to-door or through one of our donor milk depots throughout the Northeast.