Lactating mothers with extra breast milk to donate can now do so at two locations: one on the Upper West Side and in Irvington in Westchester County.
Five additional locations for the breast milk drop off, which is primarily donated to neo-natal intensive care units (NICUs) to help babies born premature or with health conditions, are expected in the near future by the organization, staffed solely by volunteer medical professionals.
Right now, all the breast milk flowing into New York State hospitals are pasteurized and screened through Ohio and Massachusetts, said Roseanne R. Motti, treasurer of the New York Milk Bank.
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“In the New York City area there are no milk banks, but an amazing amount of women breastfeeding and pumping more milk than they’ll ever need for their own infant,” Motti said. “Why not use this untapped market of fresh feeding moms who can donate extra to the milk bank?”
Motti said the breast milk collected from mothers who have been pre-screened for health is pooled with other donors to round out vitamon or other deficiencies. The milk is then ordered by doctors in the hospital.
The program already has 60 women who are screened and eligible to donate their breast milk at the drop-off locations, which include the Upper Breast Side, a retail shop on West 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. All the women have joined through word of mouth referrals, not advertising, Motti said.
Motti said there will will soon be centers opening in the Bronx, Brooklyn and cities throughout the state, such as Buffalo. The milk drop-off locations have to be licensed through the state health department.
Motti said there are several for-profit donor milk locations in the state, but that New York Milk Bank does not pay mothers for their milk.
The New York Milk Bank is hoping and fundraising for a permanent processing center to be up and running by Mother’s Day, 2016, so all the donated milk from New York mothers stays in the state. They have purchased a pasteurizer, which is en route from England.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card , 80 percent of women in New York State reported breastfeeding at least one time. The number dropped to 55.8 percent breastfeeding at six months, and 31.3 percent at 12 months.
Nicole Tyer, a New Yorker who donated 800 ounces last summer to New York Milk Bank, said pumping breast milk requires dedication more than time and effort.
“As a physician and parent, I know the importance of breast milk for growing babies,” Tyer said. “I am just happy we are able to help other babies with our extra milk.”
Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an agreement with Century 21 department stores to strengthen their commitment to allowing breastfeeding in their stores.
The Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau opened an investigation in July after a mother filed a complaint that an employee at the Cortlandt Street location was told to use the fitting room to feed her child.
State law dictates a mother can breastfeed in any location where she is legally allowed to be in.