KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's one of the simplest and most natural ways to help babies in the most critical stages of their early lives, and it's something nursing moms can do. FOX 4 toured the Heart of America Mother's Milk Bank to learn more about the need for donor breast milk.
NICU mom Stephanie Vandenborn said the generosity of stranger has helped ease the tough season of giving birth to her son two-and-a-half months early. Benjamin is now three-weeks old and relies on donor breast milk.
"It’s so much easier to know that there are other moms that selflessly give it," she said.
"I was able to produce for a little while, and then it’s gone again. Being able to rely on that is such a stress relief to know that he’s getting something healthy, even though I couldn’t give it, someone else could."
Neonatologist Barbara Carr, M.D. said when babies are born prematurely and must stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, breast milk is key in helping them go home sooner.
"When you’re donating milk, you’re really donating life. You’re donating a safer hospital stay for that baby, you’re making that baby healthier," Dr. Carr said.
Carr said she respects that some might find it different to use someone else's milk, but she said it's species specific -- human milk for human babies -- and it goes through a safe screening process. "All of that process makes it very, very safe for another baby to consume and a mom should feel very comfortable."
Vandenborn said she feels comfortable and grateful. She said donor breast milk is "giving him something that I couldn’t give."
Carr said, since the donor milk bank opened 5 years back, they've dispenses 500,000 ounces of milk, which is almost enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool.
If you're a new or nursing mom and you're interested in donating, click here to learn more about the Heart of America Mother's Milk Bank.