Photo: At August 2016’s opening, Alexandra Allen and daughter Malena deliver a batch of pumped breast milk to Richmond Community and Family Health Public Health Nurse Maureen Lister (pictured left) at the new breast milk donation depot, located at 8100 Granville Avenue in Richmond. Since then, the Richmond depot has become the region’s busiest collection point.
Regular donors have provided the Richmond depot with a total of 250.17 kg of milk — the equivalent of 62 four-litre milk jugs — the highest donation rate of any of the five collection depots located in Vancouver, Squamish and on the North Shore.
Richmond Community and Family Health Public Health Nurses believe a combination of factors is responsible for Richmond’s success, including a convenient location and welcoming environment.
“Not only is the depot located in a convenient location with a welcoming environment, but donors are also pre-screened so our reception staff can receive the milk in an easy, smooth transfer,” said Gail Morrow, Public Health Nurse, Richmond Early Years Program.
Added Richmond Public Health Dietitian Anne Swann: “It might have something to do with the fact that we are supporting the moms who donate by replacing their milk collection bags (so they don’t have that additional expense). We also did a big promotion in the fall, sending out posters to all the doctors and midwives offices, and also to pharmacies that rent breast pumps.”
Additionally, Morrow and Swann agree that providing information to moms through home visits and parent groups also increases awareness of the need for donated breast milk.
Donations made at the Richmond Milk Bank depot are delivered to the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank where it is pasteurized, then distributed to the babies most in need at neonatal intensive care units. The demand for donor human milk continuously exceeds supply, and the BC Women’s Provincial Milk Bank and VCH are always looking for healthy mothers who have more breast milk than they need for their own baby.
“We know human milk is the best food for babies, but some new mothers face challenges that prevent them from breastfeeding,” said Maureen Lister, Public Health Nurse, VCH Richmond, at the time of the Richmond depot’s opening last year. “Donor milk has active beneficial properties and is similar to mother’s own milk. It provides babies with antibodies to fight disease and infection, which is especially vital for premature or babies battling medical conditions.”