BRYAN, Texas — Kari Kuhn, a Bryan mom of two, has been feeding her babies a mixture of breast milk and formula, but producing her own milk hasn’t always been easy.
Now, with a national formula shortage, Kuhn feels having local access to a milk bank would be life-changing. Kuhn has resorted to buying or collecting milk through social media groups.
“Any time anybody asks [for milk] from here, you have to travel to Waco, you have to travel to Temple," she said. "The chances of you finding milk in Bryan are very unlikely."
KRHD called Texas 2-1-1 to check for milk donation banks in the Brazos Valley. The only milk bank listed in the 2-1-1 system was Mothers Milk Bank in Austin.
Kim Updegrove, executive director of Mothers Milk Bank, explained that the 501(c) (3) nonprofit distributes donations all over the country. She noted that vetting milk and donors takes a lot of money and staff.
“Babies in Bryan-College Station receive donor human milk when there's a medical need for it at their birthing hospital," Updegrove said. "That milk is shipped overnight from the Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin.”
Ergo: although families in Aggieland can get donated milk from this bank, they have to have a doctor’s note.
Parents like Kari Kuhn, who do not have a prescription for breast milk but struggle to find specific formulas, have turned to social media and other moms for milk.
"Peer-to-peer breast milk sharing is a very scary thing," Kuhn noted. "You have to trust that the person you’re getting milk from is giving you exactly what they’re saying they’re giving you.”
Updegrove said that Kuhn’s concerns are valid because wet nursing and donating milk peer-to-peer can be dangerous. According to Updegrove, diseases can spread, bacteria in packaging can spread, and babies can react negatively to medication or supplements in a donor’s system.
"The Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin is doing our best to increase awareness about the need for donated human milk -for healthy lactating moms to contact us via our website," she said.
Updegrove shared that the milk bank can give a small quantity of vetted breast milk to women without prescriptions. The way they boost their supply to do so, however, is through donations. The more moms who donate, the more milk will be available for the influx of families in need.
To learn more about becoming a breast milk donor or accessing milk, visit the following link: