/Mississippi is in need of donor breast milk for vulnerable babies

Mississippi is in need of donor breast milk for vulnerable babies

Since 2017, De La Rosa has been with Mothers’ Milk bank of Mississippi. De La Rosa started her career as a laboratory technician processing donated breast milk for premature infants in the NICU. She then moved up to become the executive director. Although she knew about the importance of breastmilk for premature babies, she was able to experience it firsthand when her twins were born. Her babies were given donor milk for three days before their supply arrived. De La Rosa posted the following Facebook post: “I went from being a part of the organization which helps provide donor milk, to the NICU mother who was in need of donor milk for her babies whilst she worked on her supply,” Emmalee De La Rosa, De La Rosa’s baby girl, died eight days after her birth. Luka, her twin, spent more than two years in the NICU. He is now seven months. De La Rosa stated that she is grateful for the existence of the organization — that it was capable of providing my babies nutrition and filling the gap until I could take over.” However, donations to the Mothers Milk Bank saw a 30% drop in donations from 2020 to 2021. This bank is the only one accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. De La Rosa, the bank’s medical director, stated that it is unable to fill certain orders for hospitals. This is a problem in a state such as Mississippi where one in seven Mississippi babies was born preterm or before the mother reached 37 weeks of gestation. According to America’s Health Rankings, the state is 50th in preterm birth, infant mortality, neonatal mortality and low birthweight. This means that it has 50 percent of deaths within 28 days after birth. For babies born prematurely, at low birth weight or otherwise in danger, breast milk can save their lives. “These babies in neonatal intensive-care units rely upon breast milk to lower the risk of severe intestinal infections called NEC, necrotizing Enterolitis,” stated Dr. Anita Henderson of the Mississippi Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also a member of a bank’s board of directors. Many mothers are able pump breast milk and give their babies their own breast milk in the NICU. “Some mothers are unable to breastfeed their babies and are not able or willing to do so. They are instead given pasteurized, donated breast milk that helps protect their intestines and keeps them healthy,” she said. Mississippi is not the only state experiencing a decline in donations of milk. HMBANA released a January statement stating that “in an effort to meet the growing demand for donor milk, and a decrease in milk donations,” the (HMBANA and its member milk banks across the United States, Canada, and the United States are asking healthy, lactating individuals to donate to their local milk bank. “Doing so is vital to maintaining the stability in the donor milk supply which ensures lifesaving medical treatments for high risk infants.” Matilyn, now eight months old, was delivered by Myrelle Penquite from Brandon at 28 weeks. Matilyn would spend more than three months in the NICU. She also had a stint at Children’s of Mississippi to undergo a heart operation. Matilyn received donor milk just a few days before Penquite got his milk supply. Penquite started producing more milk for Matilyn over the following weeks and months. This was a surprising emotional development. You almost feel helpless as a NICU parent because there isn’t much you can do. She said that you cannot hold your baby when you want, or comfort them. There are limits to what you can do. “So, one of the most important things was that I knew I was taking good care of her when she was pumping (breastmilk).” A nurse informed her about Mothers’ Milk Bank in Mississippi. She went on to donate almost 1,000 ounces. Penquite stated, “I wanted to give to help a child like another mother helped me.” “The process was very simple — it was a lot simpler than I expected.” Mississippi Mothers Milk Bank requires that you complete a questionnaire screening as well as bloodwork in order to determine eligibility. The bank employees contact both the mother and the baby’s doctor to make sure they are safe and healthy. Saenz said that breastfeeding is good for babies and mothers. Breastfeeding is associated with a stronger immune system in children, and lower risk of developing heart disease and other diseases in adults. Women who have breast or ovarian cancer are less likely to get it. If you are interested in becoming a donor, please call the Mothers Milk Bank of Mississippi at 601-939-5504 or visit their website. Friday’s milk drive will take place at the bank from 9:30 am to 3 pm. Staff encourages potential donors call ahead to schedule pre-screening. The bank will provide a T-shirt, water bottle, and refreshments to all donors.