On January 17, 2024

Mothers’ milk bank and dispensary opens in Manchester


Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast announces the opening of a donor milk depot and dispensary at Sage Willow Midwifery located on Main Street in Manchester Center in the Red Clover Community Wellness collective space. 

The nonprofit milk bank collects milk from mothers who have more supply than their babies need. They screen donors, then pasteurize, test, and dispense milk primarily to premature and medically fragile babies or used for supplementation while a parent works to develop their own milk supply in the early postpartum period.

“We are grateful and delighted to be partnering with the team at Sage Willow Midwifery. They recognize the critical need to promote breastmilk donation so that there is ample supply for the tiny babies who rely on us for a healthy start in life,” said Deborah Youngblood, chief executive officer of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.

 Milk donor screening, modeled after blood donor screening, includes health history, healthcare provider approval, and a blood test. These are some of the many measures taken to assure the safety of milk for vulnerable babies served by Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. 

Sage Willow Midwifery provides preventive care, family planning, pregnancy and postpartum care, and lactation support. The practice was founded by Michelle Hansen and Lindsay Lachant who are both nurse midwives with many years of hospital and home-based experience supporting mothers and families. Lachant helped open a milk depot at a freestanding birth center a few years back and was excited to reach out to the milk bank again so that her new venture, Sage Willow Midwifery, could be a place where milk donation is encouraged and easy. Both Hansen and Lachant know how valuable donor milk can be to protect the health of medically complex babies and to support positive breastfeeding outcomes for families needing to supplement in early days of feeding.

In collaboration with Sage Willow Midwifery, Kimberleigh Weiss-Lewit, MA, IBCLC has been instrumental in expanding the depot to include dispensing human milk to families in need of supplementation in the community as well. Weiss-Lewit has a lactation consultation private practice where she sees clients virtually, in-home, and at her offices at Red Clover Community Wellness and Gentle Landing Birth Center. 

“Access to donor milk locally allows families to ensure their babies are thriving while working with their provider and lactation consultant to develop a care plan to increase their own milk supply or their baby’s ability to nurse well. Oftentimes donor milk is only needed for a short but vulnerable time,” said Weiss-Lewit. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who receive breastmilk have significantly improved neurodevelopmental outcomes. They have decreased risks for many medical conditions including SIDS, asthma, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, leukemia, childhood obesity, and they have better dental health. For preterm babies, donor milk is especially protective against a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), reducing the risk by well over half. When used to support breastfeeding, donor milk also contributes to maternal health benefits including decreased risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.  

The science regarding the medical importance of human milk has led to greater demand for safe, pasteurized donor human milk from nonprofit milk banks like Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, which serves over 100 hospitals as well as outpatient families throughout the northeastern U.S. and has been accredited and operating since 2011. 

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