St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital Donor Breastmilk Program Celebrates Second Birthday

October 20, 2015

TAMPA, FLA. (October 19, 2015)- When Kristen Nowak’s twins, Brooks and Hunter, were born seven weeks premature, they spent 21 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital. Since they were born early, Nowak’s body didn’t immediately begin producing milk, leaving her unable to breast feed her boys the way she planned. A nurse asked if she’d like formula or donor breast milk to feed her babies until her body began milk production. She opted for the latter.

     The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breast milk for the first year of life because it often decreases the length of stay in the NICU, reduces the risk of late-onset sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis. However, not all mothers are able to breastfeed their babies. That’s where the BayCare Milk Donor Program at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital comes into play. Created in 2013, BayCare’s Donor Breastmilk Program at St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital fills the nutritional gap that may be experienced during a baby’s time in the NICU to ensure the infant continues to receive breastmilk feedings.

     Infants weighing less than 3.75 pounds are eligible for donor breastmilk when their mother’s supply does not meet the baby’s nutritional needs. Over the past two years, more than 275 babies received donor breast milk. More than 225 mothers applied to become donors and St. Joseph’s Women’s Hospital received more than 31,000 ounces of donated breast milk. In order to donate breast milk a woman must meet strict requirements including:

  • Good overall health
  • Not taking regular medication
  • Have a baby that is healthy and doing well
  • Non-smoker
  • Home freezer reaches appropriate temperature
  • Undergo a blood test

     As for Nowak, her body began producing milk a week after giving birth and the twins are now two months old. She says they’ve doubled their weight from four pounds to eight pounds and she is grateful to the donors, so her boys could receive human breast milk during their first days of life. Learn more at .