NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters Milk Bank is looking for more lactating moms to donate their breast milk to the neonatal intensive care unit.

This Milk Bank was the first in Virginia and was one of 18 nationally when it opened.

CHKD says local and state-wide demand for donor milk is growing. Their supply is limited and has recently been low, so they are looking for milk donations from moms they can continue to help infants have a healthier start in life.

Why is milk banking important?

  • CHKD strives to provide ongoing education and awareness to the public about the benefits of human milk and to serve as a resource center for both medical professionals and the general public.
  • The Milk Bank provides donated, pasteurized human milk by prescription to critically-ill babies in need of this invaluable treatment.
  • Each year, preterm birth affects nearly 500,000 babies—that's 1 of every 8 babies born in the United States.
  • Premature or sick babies are at risk for developing devastating intestinal infections – the risk of developing these infections is 10 times higher if they are fed formula instead of human milk.
  • Donor milk is easily digested, provides infection-fighting benefits and offers optimal nutrition and growth in the absence of mothers own milk.
  • Human milk contains antibodies to fight disease and infection, also to protect against allergies.
  • Human milk contains growth hormones that help babies develop.

Supply and demand and how can lactating moms help?

  • You must be a lactating woman in good health
  • Willing to undergo blood testing at the milk banks expense
  • Not regularly using medication or herbal supplements (with a few exceptions)
  • Willing to donate at least 200 ounces of milks initially, and to continue pumping to donate as you are able
  • Nursing an infant who is less than one year of age. Bereaved or surrogate mothers are also eligible to donate.

How do you make sure the milk is safe for NICU babies, what is the cost with donating?

  • CHKD follow strict screening, processing and testing guidelines to ensure that banked donor human milk is safe.
  • CHKD select potential donors by using a multi-step screening process that is similar to blood banks.
  • The donor milk is ready to be dispensed after bacteriological testing ensures its safety.
  • Donated milk is pooled and pasteurized to kill any bacteria or viruses.
  • Only a small percentage of the milk’s beneficial properties are destroyed by the pasteurization process. Research shows that the method of pasteurization used by The King’s Daughters Milk Bank preserves approximately 70% of the immune factors that help protect babies from illness.
  • Our Milk Bank covers all expenses associated with becoming a donor and donors are accepted from all over the U.S.

For more information click here or call (757)-668-MILK.