EDMONTON - Audrey Inouye pumps her breast milk at home twice each day, setting some aside for tiny, premature babies in hospitals who aren't able to get it from their own mothers.
"It's a few minutes out of my day and it's just a small token — a little bit I can do to nourish babies," the Edmonton woman said Thursday while juggling her 10-month old son and a cooler bag containing four litres of milk, frozen in small plastic containers.
Inouye is one of a dozen mothers who have so far signed up to donate at a new human milk depot at the Grey Nuns Community Hospital — basically a small storage room with a large freezer.
Staff is waiting until the freezer is full before shipping its contents to the Calgary Mothers' Milk Bank, where the milk will be pasteurized, tested, and distributed back to the Grey Nuns and other hospitals in Alberta, as well as Ontario.
Gail Cameron, director of Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Programs for Covenant Health, said studies show human milk is better than formula at fighting disease and infection. And many moms who pump and store milk at home for healthy babies often have more than they need.
"Nobody wants to throw it away. We call it liquid gold."
She said the depot has received four donations since it opened on Tuesday. And many more moms have been calling to find out how they can donate, too.
Women must first be screened by the Calgary bank and have their blood tested.
The non-profit bank has approved 70 donors and another 90 are in the process of applying, said executive director Jannette Festival. The majority of mothers are from Alberta, but some live in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and British Columbia.
Canada's only other milk bank is located in the B.C. Women's Hospital and Health Centre in Vancouver.
Festival said each mom usually sends their milk to Calgary by courier. But the Edmonton depot will save on that cost and make it easier for local mothers to donate.
Down the hall from the depot, Trina Anderson cradles her new daughter, Aryka. She was born five weeks early on Sept. 28, weighing three pounds and 11 ounces.
Anderson said her own breast milk wasn't coming in and the baby was dropping weight fast. Nurses suggested she use donor milk.
"I'd never heard of it before. Ever," said Anderson, adding that it took her a while to get used to the idea of using milk from a stranger. But she didn't want to give her baby formula either.
"I was stressing out. I was crying at night, crying because I didn't have milk. The (nurses) just reassured me that it was OK."
Anderson said her daughter gobbled up the milk and began to thrive. She's now on a mixed diet of donor and mom's milk and should be able to go home soon.
Also on HuffPost:
At A Middle School
When <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/school-principal-gives-letter-breastfeeding-mom_n_5600505.html" target="_blank">Andrea Scannell</a> took her children to eat at a summer lunch program at Mount Logan Middle School in Utah, she decided to nurse her infant while there. Before leaving, a school employee handed her a complaint letter from the principal, which went viral after her husband <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/2aw6ob/my_wife_was_handed_this_formal_complaint_about/" target="_blank">uploaded a photo of it to Reddit</a>. The letter asked Scannell to "discretely feed the baby, whether with a small blanket or in a more private area while the lunch program is taking place." After garnering a lot of online support, Scannell organized a nurse-in at the school.
At An Amusement Park
Renee Villatoro was nursing her baby at the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/kentucky-kingdom-breastfeeding_n_5591909.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">an employee told her to move to the bathroom</a>. After the incident, she and her fellow mothers' support group members flooded the park's Facebook page with comments and questions about its breastfeeding policy.
Employees at a Walmart in Greenville, SC verbally harassed and mocked Shawnee Colabella when she nursed her child in the store. When the mother told her breastfeeding support group about her experience, the members of the Facebook group "Upstate SC Breastfeeders" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/09/breastfeeding-group-plans-walmart-nurse-in_n_5570535.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">organized a nurse-in</a>.
At A Homeless Shelter
When Karen Penley tried to nurse her son in the Oahu homeless shelter Institute For Human Services, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/01/homeless-mom-faces-discrimination-for-breastfeeding_n_5548351.html" target="_blank">a worker reportedly told her to either cover herself or relocate</a>. Penley described the exchange to <a href="http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/25901442/homeless-mother-fights-to-breastfeed-in-public" target="_blank">HawaiiNewsNow</a>: "He's like, ‘You must cover to nurse your baby.' And I was like, ‘I have the right not to cover.' And he goes, ‘I have the right to refuse services.' In other words…kick me out, make me leave."
When Karlesha Thurman posted a photo of herself breastfeeding during her graduation from The California State University, Long Beach on social media, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/09/mom-shamed-by-internet-for-breastfeeding-at-graduation_n_5474420.html" target="_blank">she received a lot of negative comments on Twitter</a>.
At Bob Evans
Kristina Gray was breastfeeding her son while waiting to be seated at a Bob Evans in Tampa, Florida. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/06/bob-evans-breastfeeding-apology_n_5460744.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">A female employee approached her and asked her to cover up.</a> After the incident, Gray posted her complain on the restaurant chain's Facebook page and organized a nurse-in.
At Victoria's Secret
While at a Victoria's Secret in Texas, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/16/victorias-secret-breastfeeding-mom-_n_4611310.html?utm_hp_ref=breastfeeding" target="_blank">Ashley Clawson</a> asked an employee if she could nurse her child in a dressing room. She was not only denied, but directed to go to the nearest alleyway.
Brittany Warfield, a mother of three from Texas, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/hollister-nurse-in_n_2425541.html" target="_blank">was nursing her 7-month-old outside of a Hollister store in a Houston mall, she says a manager forced her to move</a>. “He said, ‘You can’t do this here. This is not where you do that. You can’t do that on Hollister property. We don’t allow that.’ I said, ‘It’s Texas. I can breastfeed anywhere I like.’ He said, ‘Not at Hollister. Your stroller is blocking the way. You have to go,’” she recalls.
Mom and breastfeeding advocate <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/12/emma-kwasnica-breastfeeding-mom-facebook_n_1203198.html" target="_hplink">Emma Kwasnica</a>had posted over 200 photos on Facebook of herself nursing her own three children and told the Huffington Post that her account has been suspended at least five times as a result. She organized a nurse-in in front of Facebook headquarters to challenge the company's policy that says photos depicting breastfeeding are "inappropriate."
Houston mother Michelle Hickman says she was <a href="http://www.bestforbabes.org/target-employees-bully-breastfeeding-mom-despite-corporate-policy" target="_hplink">harassed and humiliated by Target staff </a>when she found a quiet space in the store to breastfeed her infant. She organized an international "nurse-in" at several Target locations on Tuesday December 28th. Pictured above is mom who participated, Brittany Hinson and her 4-month-old son, Kennedy, in front of the Super Target store, in Webster, Texas.
At A Cafe
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/16/breastfeeding-flash-mob_n_1153963.html?ref=parents" target="_hplink">Claire Jones-Hughes wrote</a>: "After being verbally attacked for not covering up while feeding my four-month-old, I decided it was time to make a statement to show that mothers will no longer tolerate being harassed for feeding our babies in public." She then staged a breastfeeding flash mob at the Clock Tower in Brighton, UK.
In A Government Building
Simone dos Santos was breastfeeding her four-month-old in the hallway of a D.C. government building when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/14/simone-dos-santos_n_1148455.html#s542782&title=McDonalds_" target="_hplink">two female security guards told her to stop</a> because it was indecent. "I was shocked, upset and angry that by providing food for my son, I was being treated like a criminal," she wrote in a blog post for the <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/therootdc/post/dc-guard-no-breastfeeding-in-public/2011/12/12/gIQA2xYvtO_blog.html" target="_hplink">Washington Post</a>.
In The Courtroom
In November, Natalie Hegedus, a Michigan resident, was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/natalie-hegedus-courtroom-breastfeeding_n_1089271.html" target="_hplink">asked to leave a courtroom</a> by a district judge. Her post on the community forum, <a href="http://community.babycenter.com/post/a30189175/bf_inappropriate_judge_thinks_so" target="_hplink">BabyCenter</a>, caused a national uproar.
In Another Courtroom
In August 2010, Nicole House was asked to leave the courtroom because a bailiff noticed her breastfeeding.
On A Bus
This past June, a mom was <a href="http://blogs.babycenter.com/mom_stories/07052011breastfeeding-mom-harassed-on-city-bus/" target="_hplink">harassed by a bus driver</a> for breastfeeding on a Detroit-area bus.
On A Plane
Back in 2006, 27-year-old mom, Emily Gillette, was <a href="http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15720339/ns/travel-news/t/woman-kicked-plane-breast-feeding-baby/#.Tr2Eh1ZSmGg" target="_hplink">removed from a Delta flight</a> for breastfeeding. Watch a news clip about this story <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q0r6gbJpc18" target="_hplink">here</a>.
At The Mall
Ohio mom Rhonda claimed that she was <a href="http://consumerist.com/2011/02/woman-says-mall-made-her-leave-for-breastfeeding-in-public.html" target="_hplink">kicked out of her local mall</a> for breastfeeding, back in February. Mall security even called for back-up.
At The Pool
We've heard about <a href="http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/07/21/mom-asked-to-leave-ymca-pool-while-breastfeeding-it-made-others-uncomfortable-and-breastmilk-is-considered-a-contaminating-bodily-fluid/" target="_hplink">these incidents</a> from coast to coast. In 2001, a mother nursing her 9-month-old was told to <a href="http://www.komonews.com/news/archive/4015441.html?tab=video" target="_hplink">move away from the edge of the pool</a> so as to avoid contaminating the water with her breast milk.
In Her Religious Community
One mom <a href="http://www.mothering.com/community/t/567001/basically-forced-out-of-church-for-breastfeeding" target="_hplink">posted a frustrated essay</a> in November 2006, detailing her pastor telling her that photos of her breastfeeding were equivalent to pornography. She and her husband decided to leave the church after this incident.
Clarissa Bradford was <a href="http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/north_phoenix/nursing-mother-kicked-out-of-mcdonald's" target="_hplink">kicked out of a McDonald's</a> by an assistant manager for breastfeeding her 6-month-old child in August 2010.