Breast milk has benefits for babies, but not every mother is able to produce enough and many parents who adopt children would like them to get this healthy start.
Fortunately, in Westchester County, breast milk for babies in need is available. The New York Milk Bank is the first comprehensive nonprofit milk bank based in New York State. They collect milk from carefully screened donors, pasteurize it and distribute to infants in New York State and the surrounding area. They currently serve 31 hospitals including these four Westchester hospitals:
Westchester Medical Center, White Plains Hospital, Phelps Hospital, and Northern Westchester Hospital.
So whether you want to give or receive milk, this is an incredible local resource for moms.
“When we had this opportunity to help mothers and babies, we were like, ‘we’ve got to do it,’” Sandra Fleming, of Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club, told News 4.
“They delivered milk at midnight in the middle of winter to some of our hospitals,” NY Milk Bank Founder Julie Bouchet-Horwitz said. “They were amazing.”
Babies like Viviana are thriving because of the donated milk. She was born by emergency c-section in May with doctors concerned that she may have suffered brain damage. Her weeks in the NICU made it hard for her mom to keep up her milk supply and now she thanks the “village” of people who helped her daughter.
“She does so well because of so many people,” mother Stephanie Noonan said. “We are just so grateful to everyone who’s involved. The women who donate, the bank and the ‘Milk Riders’ who deliver it.”
The donated breast milk is collected, tested and pasteurized at the New York Milk Bank in Valhalla – the only milk bank in the state.
The 1,700 women who donated milk to the milk bank all went through a rigorous screening process. Since the milk bank opened three years ago, officials say it has helped thousands of babies – both in hospitals and at home – stay healthy.
If you are interested in donating, you must be screened for health concerns and communicable disease and meet the following basic requirements:
- In good health and able to breastfeed, with a surplus of milk.
- No use of nicotine products or regular use of milk enhancing herbs, including fenugreek or blessed thistle.
- Minimal use of medications. Call and they’ll help determine whether a medication is safe for milk donation.
- Willing to undergo a thorough health history screening and get a free blood test for communicable diseases.
- Able to donate at least 100 ounces of milk, unless you are a bereaved mother, in which case we will gladly accept any size donation.
They are able to accept previously frozen milk stored for 3 or 6 months prior to your approval date depending on the type of freezer you are using.
There are two convenient drop off locations in Westchester County:
19 Pine Avenue
The New York Milk Bank
401 Columbus Avenue
Ready to get started? Fill out this form on their website or call 212-956-MILK (6455).