Published on July 09, 2020

New Service for Breastfeeding Newborns

MaineGeneral Medical Center is pleased to offer Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM) to breastfeeding newborns on the Maternity & Pediatrics Unit who need supplementation when mother’s milk is not available.

PDHM is breast milk collected from lactating mothers, other than the baby’s own mother, who have an excess of breast milk. Donors are not paid for their milk. They are simply mothers helping other mothers in need.

MaineGeneral gets its PDHM from Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, a nonprofit community milk bank accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Donor mothers undergo a detailed health screening and a blood test for Hepatitis B and C, HTLV and HIV. The milk is pasteurized (heat-treated) and tested in a laboratory before being frozen and shipped to the hospital to protect babies against viruses and bacteria.

“PDHM is more easily digested than formula supplementation and provides the additional benefit of active antibodies to protect infants from infections,” said Gabrielle Harpell, MD, a pediatric hospitalist at MGMC. “PDHM allows families to continue exclusive breast milk feeding if their infant is premature, has low blood sugar or is not able to feed by mouth before mother’s milk supply is established.”

Harpell added that PDHM pairs well with MaineGeneral’s designation as a Baby-Friendly Hospital which supports breastfeeding as best-practice infant feeding care whenever possible. “Although PDHM is a short-term tool,” she said, “it allows us to further support breastfeeding mothers and babies.”

Since MaineGeneral began offering this service in October 2019, the feedback has been very positive. One new mom said, “We are so thankful that the donor milk was an option to supplement for our baby girl! We feel it truly helped her get started with latching. We’re so happy about this option and would do it again 100 times!” Another said, “What an amazing gift. We only needed it until we got home when my milk came in but just those few days were a huge help! It took the stress off me knowing my newborn twins were getting what they needed while I worked on building my supply and healing.”

More than 40 newborns to date have benefited from this service at MaineGeneral. “And we look forward to helping many more families get a healthy start in the future,” Harpell said.

Many women have asked about donating and buying PDHM. They are encouraged to contact Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast directly at milkbankne.org or 617-527-6263.