BISMARCK — Sanford Health on Tuesday, June 18, opened a human milk donation center in Bismarck, the second in the state.
The effort is in partnership with Mothers’ Milk Bank, a nonprofit program of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation, which has 82 donation centers across the nation.
Donated milk is used in neonatal intensive care units for preterm or ill babies.
“For prematurity, breast milk is the best for them for their growing,” said Lori Bergquist, a certified lactation counselor at the Sanford Children's North Clinic, where the donation center is located.
Neonatal intensive care units in North Dakota used about 14,000 ounces of donated milk in 2017, according to Jaclynn Haak, lactation manager for Sanford in Fargo, site of the other donation center.
Sanford expanded the program to Bismarck because “We’ve had a lot of moms express interest over the last year in this area,” Bergquist said.
Mothers can drop milk off from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the Well Baby Clinic inside the Sanford Children's North Clinic. The Well Baby Clinic provides walk-in baby health checkups for mothers and answers questions about breastfeeding.
Sanford will store the milk in a cooler until it is overnighted to Denver for a screening process and then distributed throughout the nation.
Bismarck resident Laura Riepl has donated 2,000 ounces to the Mothers’ Milk Bank program through a delivery driver system that's also offered. This can save thousands of babies' lives, since small preterm infants usually need only an ounce of milk a day, said Laraine Lockhart Borman, spokeswoman for Mothers' Milk Bank.
Riepl also has benefited from the program. When her twins were born five weeks premature, she had enough milk for one baby but not two and used donated milk. When she started to have excess milk later, she decided to donate back what her babies had received.
The minimum donation requirement is 150 ounces.