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Guest Post: Milk is More Than Food

The Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin's mission is to save lives by providing prescribed, pasteurized donor human milk. Supporting breastfeeding is an important component of this mission, and in recognition of the need for education, MMBA commits to teaching more than 75 students annually. Some of these students are already physicians, dietitians, lactation consultants and nurses, some are studying to become health care providers, and some, as in this past week's group, are young students yet to choose a career path. We trust that learning about the power of breastfeeding and human milk to improve health and survival, and the role of the milk bank industry in supporting those outcomes especially among the babies born too soon, too small, and too sick, is life changing. Minimally, knowing that human milk saves babies' lives should lead to a greater appreciation and advocacy effort for breastfeeding. MMBA believes that creating an informed community benefits everyone. In February 2019, we were pleased to host Leslie, Mia, and Michelle, juniors from Austin's Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders. This post, in their own words, is about their week at the Milk Bank.

Being just juniors from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, we were nervous and excited to be interns at the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Austin. We knew that this non-profit organization was a wonderful resource for premature babies who need breast milk. All of us expected to work in the lab by cleaning and pouring milk all day, and we thought the staff was going to leave us and expect us to do everything by ourselves. We did expect to organize information about the milk or patient files, and maybe learn how to pump milk to be able to donate in the future. All of us had heard that this was a great opportunity and we would gain a lot of knowledge and experience at Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Throughout this week our schedule was divided into two blocks, the morning and afternoon block. During the morning block on Tuesday through Thursday we spent our time in the laboratory. While in the lab we learned how to properly keep all milk sanitized, how to pour milk to the correct measurement on the bottle and how to strain milk from anything that could be a danger to the babies. We enjoyed learning about lab procedures and how to work safely in that type of environment. Besides the lab we also got to see what an office work environment looks like. We spent a good amount of time in the file room and got to learn how to be organized when dealing with a lot of patient’s information. Never did we think that it was going to be such hard work, when it seems like the simplest thing out of our whole day at Mothers' Milk Bank. Our biggest takeaway from this experience is to be engaging, aware of our surroundings and most importantly to be professional in everything that we do.

As our week at the Mothers' Milk Bank of Austin comes to a close, there is a lot we have to reflect upon. Our initial anticipations for the work we would be doing, and the history and science behind milk banking have been greatly altered. Though we used to believe that mother’s milk was important to feed medically fragile babies, we now understand that it is much more than a food. Donor milk does supply nutrients and antibodies, but also serves as medicine to these infant’s sensitive digestive systems. Through our time in the lab, we know that the employees guide interns and volunteers to ensure every step is performed correctly. Our Biomedical classes have given us some laboratory experience, but taking that to the real world where we are actually helping save lives has transformed our outlook on our schoolwork and educational path. Additionally, getting to meet and work with office staff has displayed to us how valuable all aspects of an organization are, and how they all fit together to generate success. Most importantly, our internship at the Mothers' Milk Bank has proven just how valuable any contribution is, whether it be monetary, through volunteering or becoming a donor.


  1. So happy to be a witness to such dedication, persistence, patience, hope and love. Joy to all.


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