Mothers giving to other mothers — that’s what the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin has been about for more than 20 years.
In this time of pandemic, the breast milk bank has seen an increase in the number of mothers donating — 900 women in the first six months, up 20 percent from 2019, which was the bank’s record year.
This year, these 900 women have given 530,000 ounces.
The pandemic has increased the need for milk as well as made it more difficult for donors to give.
More milk is needed because hospital visitation restrictions make it harder for moms to visit their babies as often in the neonatal intensive care unit; mothers are leaving the hospital earlier when their milk hasn’t come in yet and might need donor milk to be a bridge before their milk comes in; and living in a pandemic is stressful, which can affect a mother’s milk supply says Kim Updegrove, the bank’s executive director.
For moms interested in donating, they have to not have any COVID-19 symptoms, be willing to go to a lab to have blood drawn, and have enough milk supply and be willing to pump milk while caring for their own children.
"All of this makes it very difficult, and yet, mothers are thinking about other mothers and their babies, and deciding that they can present a solution through their own milk supply," Updegrove wrote in an email.
Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin needs more donors. To find out how to give, go to milkbank.org or call 877-813-6455.