When a mother's own breast milk is unavailable for any reason, donor human milk serves as the next best option for newborn nutrition in hospitals.
Many birthing facilities offer donor breast milk that is pasteurized, frozen, and used for the immediate or long-term needs of at-risk infants. Lompoc Valley Medical Center (LVMC) is excited to now be offering donor human milk as a supplementation option for families who have medical need. This donor breast milk comes from Ni-Q, an innovative, science-enabled company based in Oregon that provides 100% pure donated mother's milk in a ready-to-feed, shelf-stable form.
Aside from the many benefits of direct breastfeeding, breast milk contains multiple components and properties that are not available with formula supplementation. Formula and breast milk both contain minerals, vitamins, fat, DHA/ARA, carbohydrates, proteins, and water; however, antibodies, hormones, anti-viral properties, anti-allergenic properties, growth factors, and enzymes are unique to breast milk's composition. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that breastfeeding and the use of human milk can reduce the risks of asthma, obesity, Type 1 diabetes, respiratory disease, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), gastrointestinal infections, and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). For these reasons, donor human milk is the preferred supplement if the mother's breast milk is unavailable. Indications that may utilize donor breast milk as supplementation include infant separation by either maternal illness or infant transfer, infant who is physically unable to breastfeed, medical conditions requiring supplementation when mother desires only breastmilk, or other conditions that meet both medical need and patient request to exclusively breastfeed.
Ni-Q's donor human milk available at LVMC, HDM Plus, is triple-tested for safety. Before lactating parents begin the donation process, they must take a blood test and be approved through a medical application. This screening process determines donated milk is free of harmful contaminants such as drugs, alcohol, and blood-borne pathogens. Prior to homogenizing the donated milk, it is tested again for microbial contaminants, drugs/alcohol, and foreign milk proteins. The final product is then re-tested to ensure the highest levels of safety, with no synthetic additives or fortifiers, before it is shipped out to facilities like ours as 100% human milk. This FDA-approved process helps provide commercially sterile, ready-to-feed donor human milk that retains vital nutrients essential for babies to thrive. If it is determined by the birthing parent or infant's health care team that HDM Plus is the best option when supplementation is needed, it will be available to use immediately in our facility. It is our goal for donor human milk to serve as a bridge to breastfeeding when there is a delay in the mother's milk "coming in" or increasing in volume after delivery.
The work of organizations such as Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose and Ni-Q is invaluable, allowing the opportunity to safely provide donor human milk while relying on donations from breastfeeding mothers/families. Mothers' Milk Bank distributes pasteurized donor human milk to hospitals and families across all states. It is currently accepting breast milk donations of a minimum of 200 ounces of breast milk that can be stored frozen up to 4 months from the day of expression. If you are interested in learning more about their organization and how to donate, please visit mothersmilk.org or call 1-877-375-6645 to complete a short interview. There is no payment for your donation or fees for donors for medical screening, shipping, or storing. To donate directly to the company that provides donor breast milk available at LVMC, you can visit ni-q.com/donate-now/. Ni-Q compensates their qualified human milk donors per ounce once their donation is deemed safe for use. The process includes screening potential donors; therefore, previously stored milk is not acceptable. Ni-Q monitors their donation portal depending on their current capacity and volume of donations needed, so be sure to keep up to date with their status on accepting donations via their website.
We are thrilled to have this option for our families at LVMC! If you are planning to deliver with us and have questions about obtaining donor breast milk, call our lactation line at (805) 737-5712.
- Ni-Q, product and donation information – https://www.ni-q.com
- Mothers' Milk Bank, San Jose – http://mothersmilk.org
- Article – American Academy of Pediatrics, Donor Human Milk for the High-Risk Infant – https://www.ni-q.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/AAP_2016_3440_full.pdf