And, at Wakemed's Milk Bank and Lactation Center in Raleigh, the milk is in very high demand. The Center is the only milk bank on the east coast and one of only nine in the country. Because demand is so high the milk bank is in need of more donors.
It supplies to all the area hospitals and babies who need it like Melissa Drenzeks 8 month old daughter, Arden.
Drenzek explains, "We delivered at UNC, and she had really really bad jaundice. So, she was in the NICU for 2 days and she got donor milk while we were there. So, I really wanted to be able to give back."
Drenzek pumps once a day to donate milk to WakeMed's milk bank. And, in between seeing patients, anesthesiologist Deb Pellegrini does the same.
"I see so many pre-term babies being born," said Pellegrini. "And, for some reason moms may not be able to provide [milk] for these babies. And, if I can do it I'm more than willing to help them out in any way that I can.
While the milk bank has many donors, keeping up with demand is becoming a challenge. Demand is up about 3 times what it was last year.
"The demand has steadily gone up over the past year from sending out about seven to 8,000 ounces a month, to the month of January, we sent out over 22,000 ounces," said WakeMed Milk Bank and Lactation Center Supervisor Bonnie Moore.
"I think the demand has to do with as more information gets out there having to do with the benefits of human milk for babies-especially premature babies-our demand keeps going up and up and up."
WakeMed's Milk Bank expects demand to continue to grow and it's hoping donors also increase. But, for now, its counting on moms like Melissa Drenzek.
Drenzek hopes to breastfeed her daughter for a year and donate to the milk bank the entire time. "As long as I have it, I'll donate it basically," said Drenzek.
WakeMed's Milk Bank does not pay donors, but it does cover all costs for screening potential donors. It also covers supplies to store and ship breastmilk.