Newborn ICU

Provincial Milk Bank

Premature and critically-ill babies in our province rely on our Provincial Milk Bank when their own moms are unable to breastfeed.  Click to donate.

Find out more about donating or receiving breast milk at the Milk Bank's website.

When Alison went into labor two months early, she worried about her tiny baby girl’s very survival. Adding to her worries, Alison was unable to breastfeed her daughter in the first few days of her life.

The Provincial Milk Bank Program at BC Women’s Hospital was a lifeline for Alison and her daughter:

“My daughter was 31 weeks gestation when she was born and received donor milk in the first few days in the Newborn ICU before my milk came in. I was grateful to the women who donated and made it possible for her to get breast milk in the first few days of her life when she was so tiny and vulnerable….This program is a great service and I’d like to thank everyone who makes it possible.”

Like Alison’s daughter, 70% of preemies are unable to get milk from their own moms. These preemies are at risk of illness if they don’t get donor breast milk quickly.

Formula is simply not an option for many for premature and sick babies. Many preemies and sick babies cannot digest formula and suffer from terrible stomach aches as a result.

BC Women's Milk Bank helps the sickest babies recover

BC Women’s Milk Bank program provides pasteurized donor human milk to premature and sick babies whose own mothers can’t provide any or enough breast milk.  Most of our donor milk feeds those who need it most: The “sickest of the sick” babies in British Columbia who come to the Newborn ICU at BC Women’s for specialized care and treatment. We also ship milk to sick babies in need throughout British Columbia, and even as far away as Ontario.

Donor milk banks are recommended by the World Health Organization, the Canadian Pediatric Society and U.S. Surgeon General due to the significant health benefits for sick babies. Research shows babies in NICUs receiving donor milk have shorter stays in the hospital and fewer hospital readmissions in the first year of life.  They also have less risk of developing major chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, asthma and childhood obesity.

Milk Banks are important for another reason: the hope they offer to families with a premature or critically-ill baby in the NICU. “Milk banks make sure that the very sickest babies get the milk they need, when they need it,” says Frances Jones of BC Women’s Milk Bank, “When you give to a milk bank, you are saving a newborn life.”

Right now, too few babies are getting the breast milk they need.

Operating in cramped, outdated facilities, we are currently providing donor breast milk to 2,000 sick babies each year. Your support can help us reach our goal. We need to more than double that number, so that critically-ill newborns in BC can get the best possible start to life with donor breast milk.

You can make a difference by making a gift to BC Women’s Foundation in support of the Provincial Milk Bank. Your donation will help towards our goal of moving our Milk Bank into a larger, purpose-renovated space. This will increase our capacity to collect, pasteurize, and ship donor milk to babies throughout British Columbia.

Make a donation today and help save the lives of premature, sick babies in need of donor breast milk.

Find out more about donating or receiving breast milk at the Milk Bank's website.


24 Hours Vancouver cover story: Internet cuts into mother’s milk donations

CTV News: BC's 'breast milk bank' expanding province-wide 

Announcement: Milk bank at BC Women’s Hospital to expand