All-female Bikers for Babies Ride underscores need for donated breast milk

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In celebration of National Breastfeeding Month, the third annual Bikers for Babies Ride leaves Saturday at 10 a.m., when an all-female motorcycle club will transport 2,000 ounces of donated breast milk from Glastonbury to Newton, Massachusetts.

Moving Violations Motor Club and Dr. Ben Alvarez, president-CEO of ProHealth Physicians, will start the 92-mile ride from ProHealth’s office at 290 Western Blvd.

ProHealth is the site of a newly opened Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, Connecticut’s first outpatient breast milk dispensary.

Since February, the Glastonbury dispensary has received more than 29,247 ounces of donated milk. Since it began offering milk to women in need in April, 284 ounces have been dispensed.

In Glastonbury, donations are frozen. Once a week a shipment is sent to the facility in Newton, where samples are thawed, examined, pasteurized, bottled and refrozen. The bottles are sent back to Glastonbury for distribution.

Donors and recipients at the Glastonbury dispensary sign up at milkbankne.org. Once donors are approved, they get bags to store milk and instructions on how to store it and drop it off. Once recipients are approved, they can get milk at $4.20 an ounce.

Susan Parker, who monitors the dispensary, said new mothers may need breast milk donations for a variety of reasons.

“It’s common for milk banks to dispense milk to hospitals, especially for preemies. But there’s a need for donor milk outside of hospitals,” Parker said. “Maybe the baby has come home and the mom’s milk hasn’t come in yet. Or she doesn’t have enough milk. Maybe her ducts are plugged. Once you leave the hospital it is difficult to get it.”

Susan Dunne can be reached at sdunne@courant.com.