Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash

Overlake Medical Center and Clinics in Bellevue has teamed up with Northwest Mothers Milk Bank (NWMMB) to offer the state’s first donor milk distribution location.

By joining forces with NWMMB, Overlake has made pasteurized donor human milk available for purchase by recently discharged mothers for their newborn infants with a prescription from their doctor or pediatrician.

Breastmilk, which offers a host of nutritional benefits to babies, is highly needed within many local communities across the country. The local Mom and Baby Care Center pickup point gives families an efficient way to obtain the donor milk while avoiding additional fees or interruptions potentially caused by shipping from the Oregon-based NWMMB’s distribution center.

Donor human milk is a way to bridge the gap that sometimes occurs while a breastfeeding mother awaits her own full milk supply to become adequate, and also to delay or entirely avoid the addition of formula. According to Sandy Salmon, director of Overlake’s Women’s and Infant’s Services, “With these short windows, if we can eliminate the need to introduce formula to that tiny life, what a great thing we can offer them.”

The two nonprofit organizations came together in 2014, when Overlake opened a milk depot, accepting donated milk from prescreened mothers in the community. As one of NWMMB’s biggest supporters, “We have continued an amazing relationship based on our common foundation of meeting community needs,” said Salmon. Today, NWMMB is the only nonprofit milk bank in the Pacific Northwest.

The very safe intake, as well as pasteurization, processes require a great deal of time and testing. The mother is tested, and the milk is tested, pasteurized, and tested again. The milk, normally pooled from three to five donors, is mixed together, evenly balancing its nutritional components. Then, it is pasteurized using the Holder Method, which eliminates any harmful bacteria, but also maintains the nutritional properties of the milk.

With lactation consultants available six days a week at the Mom and Baby Care Center, “If a mother is struggling with milk supply, come in, purchase your donor milk with your prescription, and get the help you need to get your milk supply caught up to your baby’s needs,” said Salmon. “We are here to support our community and want mothers to know that there’s help for them.”

More information can be obtained by contacting the center at (425) 688-5389.