WICHITA, Kan. -- Kalee Bengston has had no trouble with breastfeeding. In fact, she has produced an oversupply.
"Eventually he decided that he wouldn't take a bottle," Bengston said. "So all the milk in the freezer, just kept accumulating."
Rather than throw that milk out, Kalee turned to the Breast Milk Depot at Via Christi.
"I feel extremely fortunate that I could have such an abundance of milk," Bengston said. "And while my son chose to not take it, I feel it's a real blessing to pass it on to someone who could really benefit from it."
Women wanting to donate can do so at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph in the Lactation Department. The milk is then sent to the Mother's Milk Bank in Denver, CO. The milk is pasteurized, and redistributed to neonatal intensive care units.
"The research does prove that those nutrients are extra valuable for our premature infants," said Registered Lactation Consultant Megan Bayer. "It can protect them from infection, it can protect their gut from getting infections in their bellies."
The donating mothers are prescreened through a health assessment, and labs are drawn to make sure the milk is not contaminated. For those who choose to buy or sell their breast milk online, there is no guarantee it is safe.
"You don't know if the donor could potentially have a disease, or drugs, alcohol and tobacco can be passed in breast milk," Bayer said. "And there can be bacteria that's got into the milk just in the collection process."
Kalee says she has heard that she could sell her milk online, but says by donating, she is being compensated in a different way.
"It's extremely rewarding to think about helping little babies and to be able to nourish not only my own child but nourish other children as well," Bengston said. "It's one of my favorite things that I've been able to do throughout the process of motherhood."
For more information about the Breast Milk Depot, a link is available below.