NewsLocal NewsCuyahoga County

Actions

Northeast Ohio's first breast milk dispensary operating in South Euclid

01-05-23 FIRST LOCAL BREAST MILK BANK DISPENSARY.jpg
Posted at 10:24 PM, Jan 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 12:26:17-05

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — Northeast Ohio’s first breast milk bank dispensary is providing a new option for families with infants. Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio is collaborating with the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank to offer ‘bridge milk’ at the South Euclid practice.

“Having it here with the staff that we trust was just so helpful,” said patient Hannah Blake.

Blake’s second daughter, Laurel, arrived on Christmas Day 2022, two weeks earlier than the family expected. They were working with a lactation specialist prior to the baby’s birth because Blake experienced challenges breastfeeding her first child. She hoped to solely feed Laurel breast milk.

01-05-23 FIRST LOCAL MILK BANK DISPENSARY.jpg
Laurel Blake, 11 days old

“The plan kind of went out the window. We were struggling with - how do we feed her, and hopefully exclusively breastfeed her, when I had such bad breastfeeding pain?” Blake explained.

They were offered pasteurized donor breast milk for use while in the hospital. After they were discharged, the family became one of the first in the region to use the new dispensary in South Euclid.

“Having that option as we transitioned home was such a blessing,” Blake said.

She explained it was not an option after her first child was born and the anxiety of breastfeeding pain compounded her postpartum depression.

“The stress of breastfeeding definitely contributed to that with my older [child],” she said. “Having it so easy and painless and such an easy process here was such a stress relief for us. And it definitely contributes to better mental health.”

The OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank identified the need in the region and worked with Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio, inside of Senders Pediatrics, to offer small amounts of pasteurized “bridge milk” for infants until a mothers’ milk supply increases.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for families in Northeast Ohio to have more options and more flexibility,” said Dr. Ann Witt, the founder and director of Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio. “I think having options in those periods can be really important.”

Previously, the only option to receive the pasteurized donor milk locally was to request it through OhioHealth and have it shipped. Dr. Witt explained the step added additional cost and wait time to families.

“If we could provide smaller amounts more readily available, it could get families more immediate access and they could benefit from that,” she said.

The OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank collects breast milk from approved donors through 22 drop sites statewide. The donations are shipped to the Columbus-based milk bank, where they’re pasteurized, cultured and frozen to be shipped to hospitals, families and now the South Euclid dispensary.

Most insurance does not cover “bridge milk” for babies outside of the hospital setting. Dr. Witt said it costs $16 per 3 ounces, but she explained it’s meant to be a short-term solution.

“Even though it is expensive, we’re talking about typically small amounts for a short period of time, in this bridge period for these bridge milks,” she said.

Blake told News 5 she needed to use donor breast milk for a little more than a week until her supply increased. She said using the dispensary helped alleviate some of her stress in the first days postpartum.

“There is so much stress associated with feeding babies. And having as smooth of a process [as this] can only help decrease maternal stress, can help mental health and is better for families and babies all together,” she said.

She plans to donate her own supply if she has extra when Laurel is finished breastfeeding.

Dr. Witt said the dispensary’s supply depends on donations to the milk bank. If you’re interested in donating, you can call the OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank at 614-566-0630 to begin the process today or email MilkBank@OhioHealth.com.

Once approved, donors can drop off donations at the Neighborhood Family Practice on Ridge Rd in Cleveland, Erie County WIC in Sandusky, Lorain County WIC in Elyria or Greater Cleveland Pediatrics in Beachwood.

If you’re in need of pasteurized donor breast milk, speak to your provider first. You can schedule an appointment for milk pickup by calling 216-291-9210. Recipients must have a prescription and complete consent and registration forms in advance. You can find more information by clicking on this link.

The dispensary currently has a limited supply of bridge milk but hopes to be fully operational later in late Jan. or early Feb.

Watch live and local news any time:

Replay: Good Morning Cleveland at 6

Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.

You can also catch News 5 Cleveland on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV NOW, Hulu Live and more. We're also on Amazon Alexa devices. Learn more about our streaming options here.