By Deborah Ziff / Journal Staff Writer
Nursing mothers now have a place to donate excess breast milk in Albuquerque for needy babies.
Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center has opened a milk depot, the first and only one in New Mexico, where women can drop off their milk once they’ve passed a screening process.
The milk is sent in dry ice to Mothers’ Milk Bank in Denver where it is stored, pasteurized, processed and dispensed.
In Albuquerque, Lovelace Health System and the University of New Mexico Hospital distribute milk from The Mothers’ Milk Bank, said Whitney Alfaro, a nurse and volunteer manager of the milk depot at Dar a Luz.
The majority of the milk dispensed by the Mothers’ Milk Bank goes to babies with a medical need, such as premature babies, babies with immune problems, feeding intolerance or metabolic disorders.
Alfaro said Albuquerque has a high breast-feeding population. Last year, 81.5 percent of mothers said they had breast-fed compared with 77 percent of the overall U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“There’s a lot of donors to be tapped here,” she said.
She said some nursing mothers put extra pumped milk in bottles in their freezer but then find they don’t need it for their baby.
“Some women will pump anywhere from four ounces to eight ounces at one time,” she said. “If their baby doesn’t need that milk and they donate it, it can be lifesaving for an infant in the NICU.”
Breast-feeding provides a protective effect against illness, reduces the rate of sudden infant death syndrome and the rates of adolescent and adult obesity, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In order to become a donor, women need to complete a 10 to 15 minute phone screening by calling 303-868-1888, complete and return an informational packet and have a blood test done at Dar a Luz. Blood draws will be offered weekly on Wednesday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. or by appointment. Once a mother is approved, she can drop off her milk at Dar a Luz or make an individual appointment.
Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center is located at 7708 Fourth NW in Los Ranchos.