Non-Profit Service Helps Premature and Sick Babies Whose Mothers’ Milk Supply Is Compromised
Naomi Bar-Yam Ph.D. is the executive director of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England. She is also a past winner at Ideablob.com, a vibrant and active community where small business owners and entrepreneurs share business ideas in exchange for feedback, advice, and votes from the community.
A milk bank is a non-profit service through which mothers with more milk than their babies need donate it to the milk bank which pasteurizes and dispenses it to hospitals and families, mostly for premature and sick babies whose mothers do not have enough of their own milk. When Bar-Yam’s now adult son was born overseas at 4.5 lbs, he was in an NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) where another baby had a gastrointestinal problem that only mothers’ milk could resolve. Her own mother was not nursing, and Bar-Yam was the only mother with extra milk which she gladly donated to help the little one.
Bar-Yam’s last child was also born small. Since Bar-Yam did not know about milk banks at the time, she saved her extra milk in her freezer and used it several years later when her father was terminally ill. While the milk did not cure her father, she hopes that its qualities helped him in some small way in his last days. Bar-Yam also learned then that there was no milk bank in New England. Since then, a group of dedicated, energetic, and creative health professionals and community members have created the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England.
Bar-Yam has worked in maternal and child health for about 25 years, teaching, writing and researching in areas such as breastfeeding and the workplace, ethics of prenatal testing, breastfeeding, and human rights. The business originally launched out of her home office, which allowed Bar-Yam much flexibility in working and caring for her family while growing the business.
Bar-Yam and the milk bank work with health care providers to make banked milk the standard of care in NICUs. Mothers’ Milk Bank now has a milk-processing lab. They began screening donors in 2011, and were certified by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America in July, 2011. That year marks when they began pasteurizing their own milk! They have a lovely location in Newton Upper Falls, MA. Visit http://milkbankne.org/.