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Mother’s Milk Bank opening in River Region

New mothers in Vicksburg and Warren County will soon be able to support mothers in need throughout the state.

A new Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi depot will be opening at Merit Health River Region June 20. The new depot will enable mothers who are willing to donate their extra breast milk to do so without having to drive to the bank itself in Flowood.

The donated milk is used to support premature babies in neonatal intensive care units throughout the state whose mothers may not be able to produce enough milk to feed them.

“It is to help the babies because when they are in the NICU a lot of moms aren’t processing a lot of their own milk and there are a lot more benefits of breast milk compared to formula,” Francis De La Rosa, a pasteurization tech with the milk bank, said. “We get donor mothers from all across the state of Mississippi that donate us their milk and we process it and test it as well as the mothers. They have to take a blood test and we test it (the milk)and get the calorie count and we make sure there is nothing wrong with the milk.”

Each bag of donated milk is tested and pasteurized before being delivered to a mother and baby in need throughout the state.

“It is needed all the time because there are always babies in the NICU,” De La Rosa said. “We don’t really have a time when we are down or in the most need, because it is always needed.”

In order to donate, mothers must call the milk bank at 601-939-5504 and go through a phone interview and also be blood tested. Donors must be in good health, be non-smokers and not be on regular medication except for a select few allowed by the bank.

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi is part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America and the depot at River Region will be the eight one in the state.

“Until today, these moms have had to drive over an hour or more to the closest drop off location,” said Lacey Griffith, River Region’s Director of Women’s Services. “We know this can be a barrier for some mothers who want to donate, but possibly don’t have the tools or support that they need to go through the process. Our mission here is to take that burden away.”

After a mother is approved to donate, De La Rosa said they simply have to take the milk they are wishing to donate to the depot at the hospital or the bank in Flowood with their donor ID and the date it was pumped written on the bag.

Each bag of donated milk is good for a year, De La Rosa said.