Thousands of new moms each year get support from Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, including guidance from internationally recognized lactation consultants. Now, those breastfeeding experts have opened Maryland’s first hospital-based milk depot to better connect area moms with extra breast milk to babies in need.

The depot gives moms who deliver at Shady Grove a new choice for feeding babies who are premature or who require additional nutrition: safe donor breast milk. For local nursing moms with extra milk, the depot provides a convenient way to donate the surplus.

The Benefits of Breast Milk

Human milk protects against allergies, helps fight disease and provides growth hormones that help babies develop. Breast milk’s benefits are especially important for the 1 in every 10 babies who is born prematurely in the United States. In Shady Grove’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which cares for 500 premature babies a year, access to donor milk lifts the stress from moms who want their babies breastfed but need time to build their own supply.

“Each donor makes a huge difference for families in need of breast milk. In fact, just one ounce of donor milk can feed four premature babies,” said Carol Chornock, RN, a certified lactation consultant at Shady Grove. “We are so excited to be able to offer this service for our moms and babies.”

Shady Grove’s partner for the depot, The King’s Daughters Milk Bank of Norfolk, Virginia, is one of 26 accredited U.S. milk banks, which carefully screen, test and pasteurize donated milk to ensure its safety. Potential milk donors are screened much like blood donors. They provide medical and lifestyle histories and undergo blood tests. Once cleared, moms drop off frozen milk at the hospital. After the drop-off, Shady Grove’s lactation consultants send donated milk to The King’s Daughters, where it is bottled, pasteurized and stored in a freezer until a baby needs it.

Local moms say they appreciate a safe, convenient way to donate their breast milk.

“After my daughter was born, I realized I was overproducing milk,” said Polina Yershova of Poolesville. “I have more than 2,000 ounces of milk saved up among four freezers. I wanted to donate somewhere locally and saw that Shady Grove had a program. I couldn’t think of a better way to use my excess milk than to give it to babies who need it most.” 

Women interested in donating can call 757-668-MILK (6455) to begin the screening process.