From the moms who brought you Latch & Link Long Beach, lactation educators and founders Celine Malanum and Christine Gibson, comes Long Beach’s inaugural “Share the Love” on Valentine’s Day from 9:00AM to noon, an event to facilitate “mothers helping mothers nourish our neediest,” a donor milk drive and celebration.
In partnership with Latch & Link, Mothers’ Milk Bank, a 501(c)(3) non-profit tissue bank whose mission is to provide donated breast milk to the infants who need it most, will be screening and accepting properly stored milk donations from attending mothers. A short presentation will be given by Mothers’ Milk Bank so participants can learn more about breast milk donations. The free, family-friendly event will have activities for kids, door prizes to be given out and snacks to munch on.
The event is hosted by Dignity Health's St. Mary Medical Center (St. Mary), which is in its last phase of becoming the first Long Beach Hospital to earn Baby-Friendly designation. According to Malanum, this distinction from Baby-Friendly USA acknowledges St. Mary's dedication to putting breastfeeding front-and-center through comprehensive staff trainings, hospital policy changes and procedures geared toward supporting breastfeeding at birth and beyond.
Currently, Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach uses donated breast milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank for the tiniest of babies to ensure they receive the best start possible.
“Donated human ‘miracle milk’ can be a lifesaver for preterm and critically ill babies in hospital NICUs,” Malanum explained. “Currently, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach uses donated breast milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank for the tiniest of babies to ensure they receive the best start possible. We’re really trying to raise milk, yes, but moreover, awareness for this cause that directly affects the babies and families at both our birthing hospitals.”
“We urge and welcome all breastfeeding mothers, families, breastfeeding advocates, lactation and birthing professionals, pediatricians, womens’ health providers and anyone interested in learning more about donating and the power of breast milk in general,” she continued.
According to St. Mary, milk reserves are critically low, while the demand continues to increase. According to Malanum, Mothers’ Milk Bank shared that Southern California receives the most donor milk, but as a region, typically donates the least. Malanum is on a mission to encourage mothers to take care of their own and donate more.
Breastfeeding helps bolster the youngest, most fragile babies against a variety of infant diseases such as late onset sepsis, a danger to infants in the NICU, and necrotizing enterocolitis, the number two killer of premature babies, according the Academy of Pediatrics, cited by St. Medical Center.
“Every baby deserves breast milk. However, the situation is so dire in NICUs - these are our most fragile babies, and breast milk can truly work miracles for them. And often no matter how hard mom is working, it still may take some time for her milk supply to kick in. There's an answer here – we can donate our milk and help a brand new family thrive,” concluded Malanum.
Share the Love will be held in the Johnson Room in the Parr Health Enhancement Center at St. Mary Medical Center, located at 1050 Linden Ave.
[Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach currently only accepts donations through Mothers’ Milk Bank.]