28.Mar.2017 More Wonderful Midwives!

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Tiffany on the Left. Melissa in the Middle

I had another great week for visiting with out-of-town midwives.
On a Tuesday I got a message from Melissa McDunn, a nurse-midwife from Great Falls. She and her birth assistant were coming to Bozeman and would be at the Birth Place by 1pm. They wanted a tour. Well, Tuesdays are clinic days and are particularly tightly scheduled. Luckily my 2pm client needed to change her appointment. Melissa and her assistant Tiffany were game for the later meet up.
Melissa had worked for 16 years in Labor and Delivery before becoming a midwife. She attended Frontier School of Midwifery and was able to attend her clinic training in the hospital in Great Falls. Melissa is passionate about gentle birth. In fact her business is called Gentle Beginnings Midwife.

Although she wasn’t able to attend any out-of-hospital births during her training, she is happily providing home birth care throughout much of Montana.  Melissa travels — Chouteau to Manhattan to Lewistown with the bulk of her births happening in Great Falls and Helena. Her practice is building. Tiffany, her assistant, has been helping family give birth out-of-hospital for 10 years. Tiffany is a DONA certified Doula and a birth assistant. She is a wonderful compliment to Melissa’s practice. We had a great time getting acquainted, sharing client stories, and enjoying the shared connections of midwifery in Montana.

Later in the week I met my friend Barbara for lunch. I aspire to be like Barbara.

Barbara is a nurse-midwife with a hospital based practice in Virginia.   She works in a group with doctors and midwives and is well supported in her profession. Barbara has provided care in her area for several decades. In addition to providing prenatal, birth and postpartum care,  she trained to assist at c-sections when her client needed them. Barbara’s practice provides Centering Pregnancy care — group prenatal care that helps build community. They also provide home visits to the women of the Old Order Mennonite community.

Barbara is at the time in her life where she works part-time, travels for fun and family, and gets to provide the gyn part of the midwives scope of practice. She hasn’t attended a birth in a few years.  Barbara says it took months of not attending births before she felt completely rested. She still loves helping women with their reproductive health care but is happy to leave the labor sitting to the younger midwives.

Barbara has also been advocating politically for health care coverage and access to reproductive health care.  She has been a presenter at Town Halls in her area to address the policy needs of her clients. As a petite septuagenarian, her personal and professional experience allows her to speak with authority on teen pregnancy, birth control, and the benefits to society when reproductive health care is accessible.

In one week I got to meet with midwives at the beginning and at the end of the career path.  Amazing women each. And as I sit here in the middle years of my midwifery practice, I am happy to see the passion of a beginning midwife and the wisdom of an elder midwife.  What lucky women we all are!

 

 

13.Feb.2017 The Family Act

“At some point, nearly every worker faces a moment when they need leave, whether it’s to bond with a new baby, care for an aging parent, or recover from a serious illness or injury.” timeformontana.org

happy family

As anyone who has worked with me knows, I am a huge proponent of paid leave for new parents.  The physical, emotional, financial, and relationship stress put on a new family by the lack of paid leave challenges almost everyone I work with. The US is the only developed country that does not have paid leave.

Four states have stepped in to address this strain placed on their citizens.

Now Montana can make it five.

HB 392, The Family Act, has been introduced in the Montana Legislature by Representative and Minority Leader Jenny Eck.

Amazingly great organizations support this bill:  AARP, The Montana Budget and Policy Center, The Montana Coalitions Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Montana Human Rights Network, Montana Women Vote, and SEIU775.

The bill’s supporters have set up a website Time for Montana  to help us all understand this wonderful bill. Check it out. The information is fantastic. HB 392 The Family Act will provide paid leave to most Montanans. It is funded fairly so that we all benefit.

The bill itself covers more events than birth, adoption, or fosterage of a child. It also includes people who need leave to care for their own illness, the illness of a family member, and to care for a recovering service member.

Paid leave is good. Graham and Lucy

This is what you can do.

Learn More  — check out the website http://timeformontana.org. Also, for the wonky among us, the Montana Budget and Policy Center has a great report on HB392 that can be found here Montana Budget and Policy Center

Send a Thank You note — Rep. Jenny Eck can be reached at PO Box 1206, Helena, MT 59624-1206 or at Rep.Jenny.Eck@mt.gov. I think a handwritten note is classy but any thank you is appreciated.

Add Your Story — how did not having paid leave affect your family?  Did you have paid leave and how did that help? You can share your story here and stay connected to the movement for Paid Leave for All.

Legislators need to know that we care about Paid Leave for All. Sign up to stay informed here.

You can always contact your legislator at 1-406-444-4800 or at www.leg.mt.gov.

But if you need any help at all, let me know.  I will gladly help you connect

Yay!  Paid Leave for All!

We can make this happen.

 

 

 

 

 

12.Oct.2016 A Perfusion of Midwives

In physiology, perfusion is the process of a body delivering blood to a capillary bed in its biological tissue. The word is derived from the French verb “perfuser” meaning to “pour over or through.”  Wikipedia

I just love my clients, but sometimes I need something more. I need to be with women who understand what I do because they do what I do.  Sometimes I need a perfusion of midwives.

I got some of that life affirming midwifery delivered to my tired, sleep-deprived capillary beds this past month. Two dear friends from out-of-state and two wonderful in-state midwives stopped by in one five day period.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-HopEwcgIszk/AAAAAAAAAAI/AAAAAAAAAT0/eGSCiJuawq8/s120-c/photo.jpgThe first person through was my dear friend Jana. Jana is a Certified Professional Midwife from Minnesota. She has been a La Leche League Leader, a homebirth midwife, a birth center midwife, a board member of the Midwives Alliance of North America, and is now the Faculty Director and Professional Development Director of the Midwives College of Utah. And she’s a hoot. Jana is the kind of person you exhale around. Her competence makes you relax. She says what she knows and she knows a lot. She stood in my kitchen and refused any meals while eating what I had made for her with her fingers. We laughed and sighed and generally felt good together. Too quickly, she had to get back on the road.  Here’s a link to one of her articles, http://www.mothering.com/articles/the-last-days-of-pregnancy-a-place-of-in-between

Hours later I got a call from my friend Sherri Daigle.

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Sherri and I met at a conference in Canada and have hung out together at conferences ever since.  She too is a Certified Professional Midwife. She was a Bradley instructor, became a midwife, helped pass the 1984 Louisiana Midwifery Bill, got her MSW in 2007, started a midwifery school as part of the Louisiana University system, and is now a staff midwife at the Birth Center of Baton Rouge.  She and her son were on a Western adventure. They had spent two days in Yellowstone and were going to drive up to the Flathead for a swim. On their way they stopped for dinner with me here in Bozeman. She currently attends around 18 births each month (which makes me tired to just think about).  We had a “Montana” meal at the Garage where she confessed that she had never been around so many white people in her entire life.  We laughed, shared war stories, and off she went at 8pm to drive to Flathead Lake.  They had to be in Billings the next afternoon to fly home. [I think that like many people, they did not understand how very huge this state is.] I hope they will be back soon.

A couple of days later I was at a conference “Promoting First Relationships in Pediatric Primary Care” and realized that five (5!!!!) midwives were at the conference. I got to sneak away for lunch with Kathleen Press and Joyce Vogel.

When I was a baby midwife and occasionally off call, I would drive around the state taking other midwives out for lunch just to get to know these wonderful women. Kathleen lived in Billings at that time. She was a midwife, a wife, a mother, a foster-mother. She bred dogs, was active in her church, and generally was busier than anyone I had ever known.  Kathleen currently lives on a berry farm in Wyoming. She regaled us with stories of seasonal workers, berry infections, and her service work in other countries with her church. She, for reasons that I cannot fathom, does not have images of herself available on google.

http://www.familymidwives.com/images/YourbirthYourWay_600px.jpgJoyce Vogel is a midwife up in the complete other direction, Libby, MT.  Libby is known for having a supportive medical community. Joyce benefited from that open-minded community during her training and now as she practices.  She has a large, loving family and has mission work with her church that includes visitations at the jail.  Most of Joyce’s children are now grown and she is open to what the world offers her next. I remember when I was a new midwife and Joyce was training to be a midwife, she called to tell me about an event in that corner of the state. I was so envious of the community she had.  It was a real treat to meet her in person.

In one short week, my capillaries were perfused with the love and laughter of midwives. What a great week!

 

21.Sep.2016 Birth Place Breastfeeding Rates

Every year we tally up our breastfeeding rates for Breastfeeding Awareness Month and print up a report.

It is such a fun time re-connecting with all the fine families we work with.

TrentI have been doing this report every year since 2009 and have learned a few things about what works with breastfeeding support.  One of the most important factors is frequent in-person support during the first few days of nursing.  We often (rightly) focus on the birth. We need to focus as closely on the first weeks of nursing. In particular, the physical and emotional work of bringing in the milk needs support. When mothers and their families understand newborn behaviors that bring in milk, they can relax into the process.

Parents also need to understand normal newborn sleep patterns.  When parents have expectations that match babies’ physical needs, everyone is happier.

And I have found that parents who birth in the hospital need on average five more postpartum visits than babies born out – of – hospital.  Some of this extra support is likely due to the routine hospital procedures the interrupt the bonding and breastfeeding magic of those first hours after birth.  But most of the extra support is probably due to the fact that the labor was complicated.  I don’t transfer to the hospital for easy births.  We go to the hospital for help when births are long and hard.  Tired moms and babies need more support.

One final observation:  a majority of babies who get off to a good start with nursing never need formula.  Women can build up a good milk supply so that when they return to work, they can pump enough milk for their babies.  (This too is an important place to support families.)

I’ll enclose a link to the full report but here is a snapshot of our outcomes in context of Montana and Healthy People 2020 goals.

Birth Place Montana  CDC Report Card Healthy People 2020 Goal
Ever breastfed 99% 91.2% 81.9%
3 months exclusive 95% 53.4% 46.2%
6 months 96% 50.7% 60.6%
6 months exclusive 89% 19.3% 25.5%
12 months 87% 25.5% 34.1%

28.Aug.2016 Breastfeeding Through Adversity

Poppy was born in the Spring at home. It was one of the most beautiful births I have ever seen. Her mother Jen and father Marty labored together with such love.  They radiated joy when Poppy was born.

Nursing was not an easy start for these three. Even though Poppy had enjoyed all the benefits of a gentle birth and skin to skin care, she did not latch in the first 24 hours of life.  Jen and Poppy ended up needing a lot of assistance before nursing became secure. The first three weeks of life were filled with daily home visits, regular weighing, nursing and supplementation devices, pumping, and lots of work and worry. Jen reports that she had to let go of a lot of her ideas of what motherhood looked like, how babies slept, what asking for help meant, etc.  After three weeks though, nursing was more stable and Marty was able to return to work.  Jen is really pleased that during that entire time she never thought that “nursing wasn’t for us.” She felt “every ounce she gained was a victory.”

Having the rough start to nursing really helped Jen and Marty when Poppy got sick in the Fall. They had the shared experience of working together and of receiving support.

Poppy after her first surgery.

Poppy after her first surgery.

On the evening of Halloween, when Poppy was 6 months old, she had a seizure and was transported to the Emergency Room. The doctor did a CT scan just to rule out the unlikely possibility that Poppy had blood in her brain. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the scan revealed, and the medical team indicated that Poppy needed to be flown elsewhere. A pair of pediatric specialists was dispatched from Salt Lake City to help care for Poppy. It took several hours before they arrived and were able to stabilize and finally transport her.

Poppy’s health deteriorated during the flight. By the time the plane reached Salt Lake City, it was the middle of the night, and Jen and Marty were moved to the side while an expert team took over Poppy’s care. Jen and Marty provided information when asked but were mostly left to watch from the perimeter. Very quickly, the team was able to determine that the blood was caused by a ruptured aneurysm on a main vessel in Poppy’s brain. They explained this was unheard of for someone Poppy’s age and that the necessary brain surgery was typically not performed in the middle of the night. Jen and Marty waited and watched for 5 hours until morning came and  Poppy was prepared for surgery.  Jen says she realized how much breastfeeding meant to her when, in the midst of it all, she stopped to wonder and ask a nurse, “Will Poppy ever breastfeed again?”

In the beginning, the team had complete control of Poppy. There was nothing for her parents to do.  “My role was to pump. All I did was pump. Pump and label my milk. I had to believe she would drink it again. It gave me purpose.”

Jen was able to provide much of the food that Poppy needed during her three week hospital stay. At one point point she had to remind herself that formula was really the least of her worries.  When Poppy was discharged she was drinking thickened breast milk from a bottle, a way to keep her safe while she relearned how to coordinate swallowing.  Heading home, Jennifer and Marty knew that they could feed Poppy. Because of the struggle of those first weeks of life to get breastfeeding established, they knew that they could make the transition to nursing again.

IMG_0265And they did. They transitioned to life in Bozeman. They had regular contact with their local physician and their team in Salt Lake. Poppy was on several medications. Breastfeeding became the norm.

Then while visiting family in Jackson, another ER scan revealed blood in Poppy’s brain the day after Christmas. A new, second aneurysm in the same area had developed quickly and ruptured. The second time was harder for Jen and Marty. Poppy had another surgery. This time the team decided to occlude (or block) the fragile vessel. They knew this would cause a second stroke, but determined it was necessary to save Poppy’s life. She recovered well and was moving all of her limbs almost immediately upon waking. The family was sent home after eight days. While Poppy recovered, her parents were left feeling more unsettled. Jen said that being able to nurse through the second surgery and hospital recovery comforted her as much as it did Poppy.  She was able to feed her daughter. It delighted her every time a nurse would see Poppy’s chubby thighs and remark “This is a healthy breastfed baby.”

Poppy has had only one seizure since coming home in January. She continues her care with her local physician and checks in with her Salt Lake City team every six months.dance

Jen says “I made my choices where I had choices. Every mom has to give herself permission to do what is right for her family.”

She and Poppy are still nursing.

 

26.Aug.2016 Work and Breastfeeding

So many of the moms who birth with us return to work while breast feeding. I thought I’d chat with someone who has first hand experience of breastfeeding and working.

TaraMeet Tara. Tara nursed both of her children. She also worked. With her second baby, Tara started a new job in her sixth month of pregnancy. By the time she gave birth, she didn’t have any leave accrued. She hadn’t even yet had her three month review. “Fortunately, I have a very supportive supervisor.”

Tara took 10.5 weeks off work. She then worked half time for three more weeks. Then she was back to 40 hours a week of work. Tara was able to nurse and provide pumped breast milk for over a year and a half.

Here are her tips:

  • Tara nursed early and often when her baby was born to build up her supply
  • She tried not to stress. Tara pumped maybe every 24-48 hours during the end of her leave to build up 5 days of frozen milk.
  • Because she had pumped before, Tara knew she would pump more milk each day at work than her baby would eat.
  • Pumping kept her milk supply up. At work Tara pumped once in the morning and once in the afternoon. She was able to nurse her daughter during the lunch break. At time, she would pump once at night. Over the course of the day, she pumped 16-20 ounces.
  • She had multiple pumps — one for work and one for home. That way she didn’t have to fuss with packing and moving the pump.
  • Tara swears by Mother’s Milk Tea. She just loves the taste. In fact, her whole family drinks it.
  • She particularly loves the Spectra pump “S2”.  She says it felt the closest to nursing of any pump she has used.
  • Eating well was important (but harder with the second baby).

Tara had enough pumped and frozen milk that she stopped pumping at work after about 10 months.  She continued to breastfeed during lunch and nurse at home and on the weekends. Even though she is an expert pumper, Tara doesn’t enjoy pumping. If she could have pumped at her desk while working it would have made it easier for her. And she really didn’t enjoy having to wash the pump parts. (Here is a great place you design engineers could improve the lives of women and babies!).

One thing that was especially key for Tara was knowing her legal rights.  Having that information helped her approach her employer to set up a system that worked for her. The information also helped her advocate for herself in her relationship with her husband and her family. People we love become supportive of our breastfeeding as we do it but we often must advocate for ourselves in the beginning.

Tara says that her own stubbornness made it possible to feed her babies breast milk while working. But once she knew her rights, she was able to communicate her goals with her employer, her day care, and her family. And they all helped her reach her goals.

Congratulations!

 

 

 

08.Aug.2016 The BIG Latch On!

 

2016-08-05 21.29.02 2016-08-05 21.30.13
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2016-08-05 22.53.44 2016-08-05 23.10.58Thanks to everyone who stopped by the BIG Latch On this past Saturday.

Many, many thanks and congratulations to the Gallatin Breastfeeding Coalition for all their work. The BIG Latch is a Coalition effort and it was great to see so many supporters of breastfeeding on Saturday. [The Coalition is very active in our community. To get involved, click on the link and check out the website.]

The volunteers had gathered wonderful prizes. Snacks and water were provided. Several demonstrations were planned for the afternoon including:

Gloria of Blissful Family Yoga

led a great Mommy and Me Yoga class.

And Sprouts

was able to demo cloth diapers.

 

In addition to families that had planned on joining the Big Latch, lots of folks stopped by on their way to the Sweet Pea Festival.

The dashing man in the cowboy hat and sun glasses is a retired pediatrician who regaled us with stories of supporting breastfeeding on military bases.  He was quite thrilled to encounter us.

And check out the t-shirt on the gentleman on the left: Real Me Support Breastfeeding. Yes, they do (and he sure does). And shouldn’t we be selling those shirts????

Jazmin and I loved seeing everyone who was able to attend. These babies keep growing and the breastmilk makes for attractive children.

We hope you enjoyed the BIG Latch On.

Remember, August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

Breastfeed with Pride!

 

03.Aug.2016 Milk Donation Is Easy!

1024px-Breastfeeding-icon-med.svg August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month.

We love breastfeeding here at the Birth Place. One of the ways that we support mothers and babies is to act as a Milk Donation Station. We can help a woman become a breast milk donor and can ship her milk to the Milk Bank. Babies in need can then get healthy human milk instead of formula.

I thought I would interview one of the wonderful women who donate milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana.

Shannon gave birth in the early part of the year to this handsome lad, Brendan.  She started pumping to build up a milk supply for her return to work.  We had talked about breast milk donation during her postpartum time with us at the Birth Place.  In May Shannon decided that she wanted to try to donate. “It was so simple. The ladies at the Milk Bank take care of everything. They sent me milk storage bags and would have provided a pump if I didn’t have one.”

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana has a simple screening process. Once a series of questions are answered, the woman’s health care provider (in this case — me!) needs to certify that the woman and baby are healthy and that milk donation will not interfere with the baby’s milk supply. That was easy.

Then the woman needs to have a general blood draw to rule out any infections.  Shannon brought Brendan along and had no trouble.  The Milk Bank pays for the blood tests.

“I wouldn’t have done this if it was hard.  I pumped maybe three times a week. I have a great milk supply so I don’t think that I pumped more than 5 minutes at a time. It was never a rush or a big stress.”

2016-08-01 21.41.09“It all adds up and it’s a cool way to help others.”

Shannon thought the hardest part of donating milk was just remembering to run her dishwasher so that her pump parts were clean.

Here’s a look at what 100 ounces of mother’s milk looks like:

2016-08-01 21.59.41Once the milk is at the Milk Bank, it is pasteurized and tested.

 

Thank you Shannon and Brendan!

And if you want to learn about donating milk, give us a call.

Birth Place, 581-2073.

Happy Breastfeeding!

31.Oct.2014 A Haunting Birth

This is a true story. I have waited a couple of years to tell it to protect the privacy of those involved.

Bewarned! Nothing has frightened me more than this birth story.

One evening a few years ago, I was up at the hospital. We had transferred for some pain relief after a very, very long labor. My client and her husband were sleeping away now that the epidural had taken effect. As I was in need of exercise, I wandered the hospital halls.

Eventually I stopped, as we all do, in front the nursery window. The babies were cute and new. Also at the window was a middle-aged woman. We struck up a conversation.

She was at the hospital supporting her brother and his wife in their first labor. She herself had had all three of her babies at our hospital. Her sister-in-law was trying natural birth. Imagine! Who would ever want that? She loved her epidurals and, in fact, her third birth was her best. She felt nothing! And when she says she felt nothing, she felt nothing.

She was sitting in her labor bed, chatting with the very brother who would become a father today, when her nurse came in the room. “Nothing to worry about. We just need to adjust the fetal heart monitor. The baby has moved and we are no longer able to trace the heart beat.” The nurse moved the transducer from one part of the belly to another. She asked the woman to turn to her right side. She asked the woman to turn to her left side. Nothing. “Please don’t worry. I’m new here. Let me get an experienced nurse in here and she will get you all set up.”

A few minutes later the woman’s original nurse entered with an older nurse at her side. They moved the transducer from one part of the belly to another part. They asked the woman to turn to her right side. They asked the woman to turn to her left side. Nothing.

The experienced nurse asked if she could do a vaginal exam. Perhaps if she felt the baby’s head, she would have a better idea of where to put the heart rate monitor.

She picked up the sheet. There between its mother’s legs, was the baby.

Alone. Unnoticed.

For at least seven minutes.

The woman I was talking with at the nursery window was so proud of her birth. She hadn’t even noticed when her baby was born. It was that easy.

I, however, have been haunted by this birth story.

What does it do to a child to be born alone? What happens to a spirit when even your mother doesn’t notice your arrival? What kind of person do you become if you enter the world unnoticed?

Scary!

Very Scary!

05.Sep.2014 Birth Place goes on tour to the Mothers’ Milk Bank!

Last week, Stacey and Terri from the Birth Place toured the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana.

A little history first: A while back we had an eager little baby who wanted to be born before 36.5 weeks gestation. And as you all know, at the Birth Place we can care for low risk, full term, moms and babies. So this little eager tyke was appropriately born at the hospital. We got great care and our baby had a beautiful birth. And then, as can be the case, our new little friend didn’t quite have the coordination to nurse. She needed a little help. Her mom and dad were dedicated to getting her the breast milk and colostrum she needed to get off to a good start. And although they were expressing, and spoon feeding, and skin-to-skin, and doing all the things that a family needs to do to support their baby, the medical staff recommended supplementing — at least until mom’s milk came in and the baby was able to coordinate her suck/swallow/breathe responses enough to nurse. Of course! We all wanted to do what was best for the baby. Let’s supplement with mother’s milk from the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana. [“Over the years WHO has had a remarkably consistent policy with regard to human milk banking. In 1979, WHO and UNICEF issued a joint resolution on infant and young child feeding that was fully endorsed by the World Health Assembly in 1980. The “first alternative” when a mother is unable to breastfeed should be human breast milk, using banked donor milk where appropriate and available” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1766344/]

Well, things went a little sideways at this point. We were told a lot of things the ended up being not true — that donor milk cost $100.00/ounce. Ouch — but this family was willing to pay. Then we were told that they couldn’t get any donor milk to the hospital for days. Then we were told that we had to supplement with formula — no other options. It seemed obvious that we were the first folks asking for human milk and that the process wasn’t in place to provide donor milk.

Our parents were aware of the importance of human milk for human babies. They are also actively involved in promoting food quality, not using GMOs, not eating factory made foods. Similac was exactly the opposite of what they believed in. And, of course, they wanted to do what was best for the baby. Lots of conversation and a few tears later their medical staff agreed to allow organic formula from outside of the hospital to be used for supplementation. Baby thrived with more calories. Mom/Dad/baby went home. Mom’s milk came in and this eager child has been exclusively enjoying her own mother’s milk since her first week of life. Yay!

Happy ending for our family — But what is the truth about donor milk? And next time a baby needs a little help, how do we get human milk? The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana is pretty new on the scene and clearly no one in Bozeman knew exactly how to get the milk we needed when we needed it.  Birth Place went to Missoula to find the answers.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana shares an office with the Nursing Nook, a full-service breast feeding supply store. The Nursing Nook has everything from bras and pads to pumps and nursing pillows.

Linsey, Jessica, and Jennifer welcomed us warmly and gave us a wonderful tour.

We were able to watch the pasteurization process, learn about milk donation, milk collection, and milk distribution.

A few facts: Mothers’ Milk costs $4.00/ounce (a far more reasonable price than the $100/ounce we were quoted). The Mothers’ Milk Bank is a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and follows its best practices.

The wonderful women who donate milk are screened for risk factors. Their blood is tested. And then their milk is tested. Every time. At the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana, each donation is labeled in such a way that it can be followed from donation, through pasteurization, testings, and distribution.

Technology has made milk donation and pasteurization much easier. All the temperatures in the fridges/freezers are monitored electronically. Daily e-mails with the temperatures are sent to the Mothers’ Milk Bank phone. And an immediate alert would be sent if any temperatures moves outside of the normal range.

The Mother’s Milk Bank of Montana is actively concerned about the environment we leave our kids. They prefer to use glass milk jars that can be re-sterilized, or at the very least, recycled. They have great sources for donor milk storage too. Obviously they know which milk storage containers are more likely to leak or to get contaminated with household bacteria. Their recommended milk storage bags are HoneySuckle Breastmilk Storage Bags — durable and biodegradable.

Human milk saves lives. Very preterm babies are susceptible to a horrible disease called Necrotizing Enterocolitis which is the second leading cause of death in preterm infants. Feeding preterm babies human milk drastically reduces these deaths.

Human milk is the appropriate food for all human babies. As we found at the Birth Place, sometimes we need just a few ounces to help bridge the time between when a baby needs calories and when a mother’s milk is in. Sometimes, in the case of babies born after a woman has a mastectomy or an adopted infant, the mother cannot produce milk, or enough milk, to support her baby. Donor milk, given at the breast or in a bottle, is the appropriate food for babies.


Donating milk is one of the most meaningful gifts a woman can give. The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana makes donation easy. For more information on how to donate contact the MMB.

Donor milk preserves the vast majority of the nutrients and antibodies found in fresh human milk. Donor milk certainly is superior to formula. To get donor milk for your baby, you need a prescription from your health care provider. Insurance companies and even Montana Medicaid have paid for human milk, although the guidelines for payment are still being developed. At most it would take 24 hours to get donor milk delivered via FedEx. However, passionate volunteers are available to drive milk to families in need in many instances.  The very best policy would be for every hospital, birth center, and midwife to have a small stock of donor milk available.  If hospitals can keep formula in stock, they certainly should be able to house a few ounces of donor milk. We at the Birth Place are looking into how we can better support all babies getting only human milk.

Thank you again to Linsey, Jessica, and Jennifer for showing us the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Montana and for teaching us about the benefits of human milk for all babies. We are so happy that you are doing the work that you do!

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