Grande Prairie now has a breast milk drop site. Approved breastfeeding or bereaved mothers can drop off their excess milk at the Public Health Centre so it can be sent to Calgary to be pasteurized and then connected with sick and fragile babies in Canada. NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank Executive Director Janette Festival says they’ve seen a lot of interest from GP moms in the past.
“Logistically it was becoming a bit of a nightmare for us because we’d have to arrange transportation for each individual mom, so we looked at the demographics of Grande Prairie and there’s a lot of young moms here. We basically approached Alberta Health Services.”
Research has shown that babies who get donor human milk get stronger and spend less time in hospital. It’s estimated more than 1,000 gallons will be dispensed this year.
Karen Gilkyson was the first mom to donate to the new milk bank. She had baby Juno 10 weeks early and saw first hand how important human milk donations are.
“Because I was right in the NICU with other NICU moms and I lived there for two months in the Royal Alexandra Hospital, I saw how many moms were struggling to get their milk and I just figured this was a way to give back and pay it forward to the milk bank.”
Gilkyson made a donation of 35 litres to start the drop site off. Festival adds that moms who have lost their babies may also want to get involved.
“We know through studies that these moms can really benefit. Because they’ve lost their baby, it doesn’t mean that they need to lose motherhood, so a lot of bereaved moms will come to us and they will pump for three or four months. It’s great for them; they leave a legacy for their baby.”
There are now 11 drop locations in Alberta.