GLASTONBURY, Conn. — New moms who need help feeding their babies will have another option starting this weekend. Connecticut’s very first outpatient breast milk dispensary will open in Glastonbury.
For years, donated breast milk has been available to neonatal and NICU babies in the hospital, but never before has breast milk been available to new moms outside a clinical setting until now.
“This has been in the works for about two years now,” said Susan Parker, an APRN at ProHealth Physicians in Glastonbury.
The opening of the dispensary comes at a time when a national baby formula shortage has left store shelves bare. Some might call the real stuff "liquid gold."
“It sends the message to the community that neighbors are helping neighbors,” said Ann Marie Lindquist of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.
But at $4.20 an ounce, the breast milk at the ProHealth Pediatrics dispensary in Glastonbury isn’t meant as a long-term replacement for formula or breastfeeding, but rather as a bridge.
“A mom is in that vulnerable period a few days postpartum and her milk hasn’t quite come in. She just needs a little supplement. A few bottles of milk to get her by,” explained Lindquist.
Moms who want the milk and those who want to be donors both need to start by registering with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast out of Massachusetts.
“They bring the milk here. We collect it and then we ship it off every week up to the bank,” said Parker.
Once it arrives it’s thawed, tested, pasteurized, refrozen and shipped back to Glastonbury for distribution.
“This is just a safe opportunity because we know that breast milk is best,” added Parker.
A donor can be anyone from a mom who produces more than what her own baby needs to a mom whose newborn has passed away.
“It’s a way of processing their grief and trying to help another baby when their baby could not be helped,” said Lindquist.
Breast milk can also be obtained through some community sharing programs, but it’s an unregulated and untested marketplace.
“The person providing the milk in that situation might be tempted to add water or add cow milk or use someone else’s milk and that is never ever an issue with a non-profit milk bank,” explained Lindquist.
As for the cost, most insurance companies don’t cover it. But Connecticut did pass a law in 2019 that authorized Husky to cover the cost of donated breast milk, but that law hasn’t yet been implemented by the state Department of Social Services.
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