Stephanie's Story: Milk Bank supports infants and moms alike

“My heart goes out to first-time moms. All you want is to have a perfectly healthy baby and not do anything to mess that up. For those who want to breastfeed but are unable, there is even more anxiety and self-doubt,” said Stephanie Belcher, a mother and Henry Ford Health team member.

Breast milk provides all the nutrition babies need, and it is considered the gold standard of care by the World Health Organization. For mothers who have a low milk supply, or infants unable to breastfeed for other reasons, the Henry Ford Milk Bank offers a safe and healthy option.

Stephanie experienced her own struggles with breastfeeding when her daughter, Carly, was born in 2018. Carly had trouble latching on to breastfeed and started dropping weight in the hospital. Stephanie was given the option of using donor milk to supplement nutrition but, because of misinformation she had been given, she decided to decline.

“I didn’t know anything about donor milk then, and I’d heard it cost nearly $1,000 per ounce,” Stephanie recalled. “I felt like a failure because the extremely high cost kept me from giving my daughter the absolute best start in life. I hated that cost had to be considered in such an important decision.”

Stephanie had also been told that donor milk was not sufficiently screened for disease or bacteria, which confirmed her decision not to use it. She has since learned neither the high cost nor the lack of screening is true.

“Donor milk actually costs $4 to $5 per ounce. Donors are carefully screened, and the milk is highly pasteurized for safety,” Stephanie said. After learning more about the strict safety guidelines, she decided to become a donor and even helped launch the Donor Milk Bank project at Henry Ford Jackson Hospital.

“The Henry Ford Donor Milk Bank makes it possible for more newborns to get the healthiest start in life. I am happy to help and support them and their moms in any way I can,” Stephanie said. Learn how to become a Milk Bank donor.

Learn how to become a Milk Bank donor.


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