Donating breast milk to babies in need

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Since the beginning of the year I’ve donated almost 1,300 ounces of breast milk to the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin.

The Austin milk bank, which is the largest one in the country, distributes donated milk to premature and ill babies around the greater Austin area and other cities throughout the country.

Most of the babies who receive it have suffered from premature birth, failure to thrive, formula intolerance, malabsorption issues, or other ailments. Research shows that more than half of moms who deliver a premature baby are unable to produce enough breastmilk for their babies. And breastmilk is just what many of these babies need; it provides ideal nutrition for them and significantly reduces their risk of contracting necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a condition that can damages and, in some cases destroys, the intestinal tract.

IMG_2362At the Milk Bank, every ounce that’s donated is thawed, analyzed for its nutritional value, cultured, poured into bottles, and pasteurized. An independent laboratory obtains microbiological cultures from the milk before and after it’s pasteurized to ensure that it doesn’t contain heat-resistant pathogens during pasteurization and that there’s no chance of bacteria growing in it.

It’s a fascinating process that I sometimes think of when I’m feeding Tucker, who’s 13 months old. I’m still nursing him but stopped pumping earlier this month. Pumping, as my mom friends know, truly is a labor of love. I’m grateful I had the support I needed to pump multiple times a day at work — and a strong milk supply.

I don’t know the story of where my milk has ended up or who it has helped. But I hope the babies who received it are at least a little better off because of it.

Published by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

Mallary is a mom of two young kiddos -- Madelyn and Tucker. Mallary absolutely loves being a mom and often writes about the need to find harmony when juggling motherhood and work. Mallary is the Assistant Director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin, where she manages the Center's various programs related to distance learning, freedom of expression, and digital journalism. Previously, she was Executive Director of Images & Voices of Hope and Managing Editor of The Poynter Institute’s media news site, Poynter.org. Mallary grew up outside of Boston and graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island. In 2015, she received a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. She now lives in beautiful Austin, Texas, with her kids, husband Troy and cat Clara. She's working on a memoir, slowly but surely. You can reach her at mjtenore@gmail.com.

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