Doulas Visit NY Milk Bank

Last week, a group of doula from NY and NJ visited the NY Milk Bank located just up the Saw Mill Pkwy in Valhalla where we learned about the Milk Banking Process, Lactoengineering, Bacillus, how breastmilk is considered a tissue in NY State, and much more lacto-lingo and breastmilk related info!

Julie Bouchet-Horwitz (Exec. Dir.) and Roseanne Motti (Operations Manager) and staff, do such great, important work at the Milk Bank helping moms and babies., “The New York Milk Bank is dedicated to improving the health and survival of infants in need by providing them with safely pasteurized donor human milk when their mothers’ own milk is unavailable or insufficient.” We had the idea to go there after NNJDoulaNet Founder, Rachel Connolly Kwock,,did her Certified Lactation Training and the instructor suggested doing so.

On the day of the tour, we arrived early to see the morning pour. The way it works is people send in their breastmilk and then, as needed, the milk gets thawed, strained, pooled and poured into containers in the clean lab, pasteurized (using the Holder method), batched/dated, tested, and then sent back out to hospitals or outpatient locations. 50 ml containers are often ordered by the hospitals, so the Milk Bank automatically prepare those size containers daily. You can see a great illustration here.

One of the main culprits they are looking for, when testing, is Bacillus, which forms spores when exposed to heat (which can survive pasteurization process). That is why Breastmilk/Nursing Pods are so great - because they provide a more sanitary environment for mom to pump. Learn more about safe milk banking here.

Some details:

  • The NYMB is accredited by the Joint Commission and have a Cold Chain Verification process (uninterrupted temperature control) to ensure quality and safety.

  • To receive milk via insurance, it is usually thru your provider, “Pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM), is prescribed by healthcare providers.”

  • The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) is the organization that sets the NYMB’s Guidelines for milk banking.

Sadly, some of the milk comes from mothers who have lost their babies. The image of the Tree of Life honors the angel babies whose mothers donated milk. As NYMB writes, “We know your heart is heavy. And that your body is most likely still responding to your baby's birth. This may bring you some comfort or it may be an unwelcome reminder of the baby you no longer have.“ We honor these families.

Learn more about the NY Milk Bank including how to donate milk, volunteer, or contribute monetary donations at their site Thank you to all the doulas who made the trip! If you’d like to arrange a group tour, please contact Roseanne.

Some Links and Resourcies:

In NJ news: NJ law now requires health insurers to cover donated breast milk

About Lactation Big Business: Inside the growing business of mothers’ milk

Local Milk Depot Laid Back Lactation in Morristown