How Medela is Helping Impact the Donor Breast Milk Shortage
Learn what we're doing about the current donor breast milk shortage - and how you can help us make a positive impact for families across the U.S. in need!
By now, most parents around the U.S. have heard all about the current formula shortages. Did you know that there is also a significant donor breast milk shortage – closely intertwined with the ongoing formula shortage – that is also happening right now? Medela believes in the life-giving benefits that breast milk can provide parents, babies, and communities, and sharing and promoting these benefits is an essential part of our commitment to ensuring babies have a healthy start while supporting moms to achieve their breastfeeding goals. You can learn about the formula shortage and the role that donor breast milk can play in supporting those impacted directly from HMBANA.
What We Know So Far
Though donor breast milk is mostly used for babies in the NICU, some families also use donor milk for their healthy, full-term baby.
- Although human milk is beneficial for all babies, it can be of particular help to the 10% of infants in the U.S. who are born prematurely and are susceptible to conditions like necrotizing entercolitis, a potentially life-threatening intestinal disorder.
- Breast milk strengthens your baby’s immune system and can help your baby fight disease and infection. It also contains growth hormones that help your baby’s growth and development, and is easier to digest than most formulas.
- Because of the current shortage, milk banks nationwide are experiencing a 20% uptick in demand right now, with that number expected to continue rising each day. Even prior to the shortage, there has been a trending rise in demand for donated breast milk for years, with a 22% increase noted between 2020 to 2021.
- Milk banks screen all donors to ensure they are healthy and meet HMBANA’s donor criteria, before being pasteurized to eliminate any germs that may have been present in the milk and tested thereafter to ensure none stick around.
How Can I Help the Current Donor Breast Milk Shortage?
We want to empower families like yours to support each other. So, we are kicking off a month-long pump-a-thon and educational campaign to support moms and families who are uniting to help address this national crisis. We are continually inspired by the incredible community of parents we serve, who passionately support each other through their unique journeys every day.
Here are a few ways you can get involved right now:
- Join our month-long #MomsUnite4Milk breast pump-a-thon and donate your milk to HMBANA or your local non-profit milk bank. We will provide the first 1,000 moms with breast milk storage bags if they agree to donate their milk to a milk bank. Ready to get started? E-mail your name and address to MedelaCares@medela.com and let us know how you’ll support!
- Make a direct monetary donation to HMBANA. Medela will make a monetary donation* benefitting non-profit milk banks across North America (up to $25,000 will be distributed) to elevate the important role that donor breast milk can play in supporting this issue, find more milk donors, and increase capacity at their location(s).
- Share information about this campaign and the helpful resources below with all the breastfeeding moms in your network!
Additional Resources For You
- How to Safely Donate and Receive Donated Breast Milk: For those interested in contributing or who may need to access donor breast milk, this blog provides a detailed overview of the process and includes some resources on how to get involved and/or contribute.
- AskTheLC.com: Re-lactation is a process that may require additional support from a healthcare professional. For those interested in the process or who may have questions, reach out to our IBCLC team for free guidance.
Many people are successful in rebuilding their milk supply a few weeks, and even a few months, after initially weaning. Here are a few tips if you’re considering re-lactation:
Connect with a lactation professional. Before you start, remind yourself that you’re doing an amazing job! Make sure you have a solid support system and the right information. Working with a lactation professional along the way can help address questions and concerns while providing guidance when you need it.
Getting started. You can use a breast pump or hand expression, or have your baby nurse, to stimulate your nipples and begin the process.
Use your preferred method of stimulation. Whether that’s nursing, pumping, or hand expression, make sure you’re doing it frequently to boost your supply. That means 8 – 12 times per day, for 20 – 30 minutes each session.
Be patient! It may take a week of stimulation for every month that you did not breastfeed and/or pump before you see milk begin to re-produce at higher levels.
- Medela Family: For expecting and breastfeeding families, this free app includes customized support based on your breastfeeding goals, as well as a feeding and pumping tracker, virtual milk storage, expertly curated content, and more! With free, personalized support and exclusive perks, Medela Family is designed to help moms through their pregnancy and breastfeeding journey.
- Breastfeeding University: Feeling educated and informed about breastfeeding plays an important role in duration. New and expectant families can access a collection of online courses and videos designed to help prepare for the experience of breastfeeding. Use promo code MCWA2CNS for complimentary access.
- Interested in learning how to support fragile infants and NICU families? Visit March of Dimes or the Canada Premature Babies Foundation.
About Medela Cares
This effort is part of Medela Cares, our corporate social responsibility program, which focuses on solutions for global issues, including maternal and infant health through critical transitions like coming home from the hospital, as well as fostering the mother-baby bond in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or the return to work. Medela Cares is a continuation of our company’s long history of caring for moms, babies, communities, and our environment. These programs are an authentic, integrated expression of our mission and supported with aligned partners.
In May 2022, Medela donated to the Mother’s Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes in support of their ongoing efforts to provide families with donor breast milk. With Medela Cares’ emphasis on serving the underrepresented and populations experiencing crisis, this initiative elevates the public health crises affecting families everywhere who are impacted by shortages in both formula and donor breast milk.
Let’s work together to positively impact this ongoing national crisis today!
*Non-profit milk banks in the USA or Canada should reach out to MedelaCares@medela.com by June 30, 2022 to find out how we can partner. Support will be provided on a first come, first served basis.