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Christiana Care Maternity

Mother's Milk Bank

The oldest operating human milk bank in the United States, Christiana Care's Mothers' Milk Bank stores, tests and distributes donated mothers' milk to meet the specific needs of infants for whom human milk is prescribed by physicians. The Milk Bank also stores and dispenses milk that mothers collect for their own hospitalized newborns.

Mothers' milk is often a gift of life. It is a gift that is generously given by nursing mothers who are willing to share breast milk for which their own infants have no need. Many babies who receive milk from the Mothers' Milk Bank would be unable to thrive without it.

Babies need donor milk because of:

  • Allergies and formula intolerances.
  • Prematurity.
  • Failure to thrive.
  • Immunological deficiencies.
  • Postoperative nutrition.
  • Inborn errors of metabolism.

At Christiana Care, neonatologists—doctors who are specially trained to care for premature and sick infants—encourage the use of mothers' milk.

Mothers' milk is the ideal nourishment for a newborn baby because it is easier than formula for the baby to digest, reducing the risk of stomach and intestinal complications. This is most important for any critically ill infant.

The oldest operating milk bank in the United States

When Mrs. Margaret Trentman was unable to nurse her baby, she turned to commercial infant formula. But when her newborn was also unable to tolerate the infant formula, she called on a unique "bank" at Boston's Lying-In Hospital that gathered, stored, and distributed mothers' milk to people like her. She asked for and received the precious breast milk that saved her baby's life. That was 1947.

To show her profound gratitude, Mrs. Trentman, a member of the Junior Board of what was then Delaware Hospital, encouraged the board to start a similar bank for the benefit of families in the Delaware Valley. With Mrs. Trentman's support and the guidance of Dr. Margaret I. Handy, a visionary Wilmington doctor, they did just that.

Today, the Mothers' Milk Bank at Christiana Hospital is the oldest operating milk bank in the United States. Over the years, the Mothers' Milk Bank has provided life-sustaining milk to tens of thousands of babies throughout the country.

Can I donate breast milk to the Mothers' Milk Bank?

At this time, the Mothers' Milk Bank does not accept direct donations of human milk. If you are interested in donating breast milk, you may wish to contact the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

To contact the Mothers' Milk Bank, call 302-733-2340.

Delaware Health Sciences Alliance CarePages Magnet recognition for excellence in nursing

Christiana Care is a private not-for-profit regional health care system and relies in part on the generosity of individuals, foundations and corporations to fulfill its mission. To learn more about how you can support our mission, please visit christianacare.org/donors.

Christiana Care Health System PO Box 1668, Wilmington, DE 19899 800-693-CARE