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Store offers breast milk to mothers with babies in neonatal care

Baby’s Sweet Beginnings, a boutique-style store in Lancaster that serves the prenatal, birthing and postpartum needs of parents, has become the first depository in the region for the New York Milk Bank, making breast milk available to mothers with babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Western New York.

Polly Thoman, a board certified lactation consultant, is owner of the business at 231 Aurora St., at Como Park Boulevard. All three of her children were born prematurely, and the challenges she faced got her interested in helping other moms with similar challenges.

The smallest pre-term infants are the most in need of milk banks. In 2012, these infants in New York received about 11,000 ounces of donor milk from out-of-state suppliers; an estimated 200,000 ounces were needed, said Julie Bouchet-Horwitz, also a lactation consultant and founder and executive director of the New York Milk Bank. The organization reached out to Thoman within the last few months, as well as dozens of other potential sites across the state.

Moms who want to donate breast milk go through a screening process,” Thoman said. “The milk bank sends them for blood work. We’ve got three mothers who are donating at this point. That milk gets shipped to New York City, where they process and distribute it.”

Milk deposited for the milk bank stays in New York, Thoman said. The milk bank works with NICU staff at participating hospitals, including those in the region.

“Instead of getting the mothers on formulas, if a mom didn’t produce enough milk she could request donor breast milk through the milk bank,” Thoman said. “Some moms have medical conditions. If mom’s hormones are off, they may not produce enough. If a mom’s diabetic, there’s a possibility. We have moms with a condition called insufficient glandular tissue.”

If someone wants to donate milk, they can call Thoman at 681-8100. If someone needs the breast milk, they can speak with an NICU nurse or call the milk bank in New York City, (914) 487-4812.

“We’re always looking to see how we can improve a newborn’s nutrition,” Thoman said. “If a mom can’t get enough breast milk or chooses not to breast feed for a variety of reasons, this is an option.”

– Scott Scanlon