No. 1: Milk banks don’t exist.
Come up with an idea and you’re inevitably faced with a whole raft of reasons as to why it will fail, why it can’t succeed and, well to be frank, why you’re daft for even thinking it might. We figured we would have a lot of questions to answer when launching the Hearts Milk Bank crowdfunding drive, and the first 48 hours proved this to be true!
So, to get all those obstacles out of the way right at the start, we thought we’d bust through some of the donor milk and milk banking myths out there. No pun intended.
First and foremost, milk banks… they’re real, they’re necessary, they provide potentially life-saving breastmilk to babies, and they exist all around the world (560 in fact, with 206 in Europe alone).
In the UK there are currently 15. Each accepts donated surplus milk from carefully screened breastfeeding mothers, treats and stores it, and then organises deliveries to hospitals that care for premature and sick babies.
Donated breast milk is, according the World Health Organisation (WHO), the best alternative when new mothers are too unwell to provide milk themselves. It prevents many complications and saves lives.
Demand for donor milk is increasing, but provision in the southeast of the UK is not. This has led to many hospitals in the region not being able to access donor milk at all over the last year. What is needed is a service that can grow with demand, and that’s why the Hearts Milk Bank has been created by a leading expert in UK milk banking, Gillian Weaver, and a doctor and researcher, Natalie Shenker. As one consultant put it, “I would give it to every baby in the hospital if I could get it.”
Let us know your experiences of donating milk! Please also share any reasons you’ve come across as to why people think milk banking, donating and accessing breast milk are not great ideas so we can bust some more myths in the days to come.