SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio (WJW) – Northeast Ohio’s first breast milk bank dispensary is now open in South Euclid.

The new resource is designed to help parents experiencing difficulty breastfeeding in the early days of their baby’s life.

Patients need a doctor’s prescription for the pasteurized donor milk received as part of a partnership with OhioHealth Mothers’ Milk Bank.

The dispensary is located at Senders Pediatrics and Breastfeeding Medicine of Northeast Ohio. Dr. Ann Witt is the founder of the breastfeeding medicine portion of the practice.

“Before this dispensary, families would contact Mother’s Milk Bank to have milk shipped to them, so it had the extra expense of shipping. Even if you wanted a small quantity, you had to pay for the full shipping,” said Dr. Witt.

Last summer, OhioHealth announced new drop-off locations in Elyria and Sandusky to encourage donated breast milk, but this is the first time local parents can skip shipping and leave the practice with milk in hand, depending on the availability of supply.

Witt said the goal is for the donor milk to serve as a bridge for mothers who have a delayed increase in milk production.

“There’s been all this marketing about the importance and benefits of breastfeeding but you’re struggling and your baby needs the milk. Sometimes you just need time to process it,” said Witt.

Using pasteurized donor milk is not a long-term solution for parents experiencing difficulty producing breast milk, Witt cautioned. Often it is not covered by insurance, which can be expensive.

Senders Pediatrics lists the cost of three ounces of pasteurized donated breast milk at $16.

“For short periods of time, when babies are first born, their stomachs are really tiny,” said Witt. “They don’t really need that much. Sometimes we’re talking about needing just 15 mL for feeding, so that means three ounces could last a day.”

The resource is another option for new families struggling with medical concerns after hospital discharge to feed their babies who do not want to supplement with formula, proven last year to be in short supply.

In the past, after being discharged from the hospital, Senders Pediatrics reports if supplementation was required, new parents often needed to begin using formula for their baby.

“I think it helps a lot of families know that they have options and that’s a really important thing to know you’re not kind of alone in figuring things out,” said Witt.

Find more information here.