Often when I'm on the road, I'll end up watching France 2's Télématin program while getting ready in the morning. It's sort of like the French version of the Today Show, but not as fun. So the other day, I was listening to it in my hotel room while repacking my suitcase, and I heard something about "lactariums". That caught my attention, so I turned the volume up, and it was a reporter encouraging mothers to continue donating their breast milk during the August vacation. I was like "Wait a minute, what??".
The reporter went on to explain that there are 15 different departments in France where women can donate their breastmilk. You can either keep it at home in your freezer in bottles provided by the Lactariums and someone will come by and pick it up once or twice a month, or you can freeze it and drop it off at an approved maternity ward.
Once the milk has been collected, it is tested for a variety of diseases and bacteria, and then it is mixed with other milk for quality control and then it all gets pasteurized. The Lactariums in France collect enough milk to feed 50,000 premature babies per year.
That got me then thinking about whether or not this exists in the US, so I turned to my friend Wikipedia, and what do you know - "Human Milk Banks" also exist in North America. There are twelve in the US and one in Canada, and they also aim to provide milk primarily to preemies.
You learn something new every day, huh?