Breast milk donations needed

Breast milk donations needed

New Zealand's only human milk bank is urging women to donate breast milk for other babies.

While it's an idea that can take some getting used to, for mothers who aren't able to breastfeed, getting donated milk is priceless.

Bridget Giesen had her son two months early, and as a result wasn't ready to breastfeed.  But thanks to Canterbury's Human Milk Bank she was still able to have breast milk to begin with.

"So we were really lucky and were able to get donor milk straight away, which helped him get going a lot earlier until my milk came in," Ms Gliesen said.

Nicola Skinner's daughter was also born before she was ready to breastfeed, and for her using donor milk was peace of mind.

"Her stomach wasn't developed, so at least I knew it would be a lot more gentle and she was getting natural nutrients," she said.

It was mothers like Jesse Maria Deen-Kingett who made that possible.

"I had so much to give, it was just ridiculous -- like really didn't know what to do -- so it was also a good thing for me to be able give it to something good," she said.

Twenty percent of the babies admitted to Canterbury's neonatal unit every year will have had donated breast milk.

The Human Milk Bank in Canterbury is the only one in New Zealand, but it needs more breast milk to continue helping mothers like Ms Giesen and Ms Skinner.

"Increase the amount of pool of milk that we have so that we can always offer every baby that would benefit from it and every mother who would feel supported by it, pasteurised, donated milk," Human Milk Bank's Maggie Meeks said.

Seeing how much it helps other mothers, Ms Deen-Kingett would encourage other women who can to do the same.

"To be able to give such a great nutrition and such a healthy start for them, it's just amazing; it's really amazing."

And for the babies, it's white gold.