Waverly Health Center

New program brings donor milk to newborns at WHC

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New program brings donor milk to newborns at WHC

February 29, 2024

Jessica Dewey, RN, IBCLC, with first donor milk at WHC

Donor milk is now available to newborns in the Birthing Center at Waverly Health Center (WHC). The process of having donor milk available at WHC began in early 2023. Jessica Dewey, registered nurse and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) at WHC, has been an integral part of the process. 

Dewey has a passion for supporting families and giving them options with the benefits of breastmilk in mind. She had a goal to bring donor milk to patients in the Birthing Center at WHC. That goal was achieved through research, visiting other facilities with donor milk available, meeting with providers and leaders within WHC and working directly with the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa. 

WHC has been a drop-off site for Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa for several years. This program, through the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, allows community members to donate their surplus milk to those in need. Now, this donor milk can be utilized close to home.  

“WHC has great breastfeeding rates, but occasionally a baby needs supplementation for medical reasons such as low blood sugar, jaundice treatment or weight loss,” said Dewey. “Until now, formula was the only supplemental option for newborns [at WHC].” 

Breastmilk offers many benefits to newborns – protecting a baby’s gut health; decreasing illnesses; lowering hospitalizations; fewer ear infections, allergies, rashes and diarrhea; decreasing incidences of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), childhood diabetes, leukemia and obesity – to name a few. 

Jessica has been a nurse at WHC for 16 years and an IBCLC for ten years. She initiated the lactation program at WHC and built it from the ground up. Initially, Jessica provided lactation services to those who delivered babies at WHC, taught breastfeeding classes and began the Milk Bank Donor Depot. The lactation services have since expanded. Additional offerings include prenatal educational sessions, inpatient consultations and Newborn Assessment Clinics. She also provides lactation consultations for anyone who is breastfeeding or pumping and feeding – regardless of where they deliver. Donor milk is the most recent addition to the lactation services offered at WHC. 

Mothers who choose to donate breastmilk to benefit babies in need must go through a screening process. They are screened for health behaviors and communicable diseases. All screenings are done through the milk bank at no cost to the donor. Once approved, the donor can drop breastmilk off at a milk bank donor drop off site or milk depot. WHC is one of these sites. From the milk depot, the donated milk is taken to Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa where it is tested and pasteurized. Hospitals in Iowa and surrounding states may then purchase the donor milk to be used for patients in need. The vulnerable patients needing breastmilk include premature infants, infants born with immunological defects, infants needing medical treatments requiring supplementation, adoptive families and mothers requiring a brief cessation of breastfeeding. 

“We are proud and excited to offer donor milk to some of our most vulnerable patients and provide benefits from breastmilk,” said Jessica.  

If you are interested in becoming a breastmilk donor or for more information about breastfeeding or pumping and feeding, call the WHC lactation line at (319) 483-1330. 

For information about women’s health services or delivering your baby at WHC, call the Women’s Clinic at (319) 483-4074 or the Birthing Center at (319) 352-4953.