Jun 25, 2018

Congratulations to CHAMPS hospital Merit Health River Region in Vicksburg, Mississippi, for becoming a milk depot for the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi! The hospital and milk bank celebrated the depot’s opening with a festive ribbon-cutting event at Merit Health River Region on June 20, 2018. The event was a success and well attended by hospital staff and administration, the Mother’s Milk Bank staff and board, WIC, and community members!

Becoming a milk depot is incredibly exciting for me and the team here at Merit Health River Region,” says CHAMPS Team Lead & Director of Women’s Services Lacey Griffith, RN. “This is an important step for us because as we move closer to Baby-Friendly Designation we have noticed that more and more moms are breastfeeding and becoming educated about human milk donation. We continue to educate ourselves on the importance of human milk and breastfeeding and realize the impact of having the resources and support available for lactating moms within our community. We are very proud to be able to provide this service.”

Mothers in Vicksburg and the surrounding areas who meet donor requirements will now be able to deliver donated milk to Merit Health River Region, who will store the milk in a deep freezer before shipping it to the Mothers’ Milk Bank in Flowood. The Mothers’ Milk Bank will then pasteurize the milk, analyze it for calorie count and protein levels, and culture the milk to insure sterility. If all these tests are passed, it is dispensed by purchase order to the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) in Mississippi which the Mothers’ Milk Bank serves.

“I am thrilled that Merit Health River Region is partnering with us to make milk donation easier for our donor mothers in Vicksburg and surrounding areas,” says Rebecca Saenz, MD, IBCLC, FABM, Medical Co-Director and Board President of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi. “I would love to have depots in every town or city in the state! Depot sites make donating milk much more convenient for the moms who are so generous to share their extra milk with us. Hopefully, this will increase the amount of milk that is donated, as it has in our other depot communities. The presence of a depot site in a community also raises awareness of milk donation, and underscores the importance of breastfeeding in general.”

Including Merit Health River Region, there are now 8 milk depots in Mississippi: North MS Medical Center (Tupelo), Mom 2 Be (Columbus), the Lactation Station (Oxford), Anderson Regional Medical Center (Meridian), Forrest General Hospital (Hattiesburg), Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, the Gulf Coast Breastfeeding Center (Pass Christian), and Merit Health River Region (Vicksburg). In addition, donor mothers in the Jackson area can drop their milk off at the Mothers’ Milk Bank’s main location in Flowood.

To become a milk depot is not difficult. A site must simply have a deep freezer and the ability to secure it, and personnel who agree to be responsible for recording the temperature, logging in milk that is brought in, then shipping it to the Mothers’ Milk Bank.

Why is donated human milk important especially for Mississippi?

“Mississippi continues to have one of the highest prematurity rates in the nation, at 17% (2016, MSDH website),” says Saenz. “Many of these babies’ mothers are unable to pump enough of their own milk for medical reasons, so donated human milk fills that gap. Having a human milk diet has been shown to reduce infections in the NICUs, particularly the devastating ones such as necrotizing enterocolitis. Babies being fed human milk also tolerate feedings better, due to easier digestability, so advance feedings faster. Ultimately, they are often able to go home sooner.”

Well done, Merit Health River Region; CHAMPS is excited for you!

Interested in donating milk or becoming a depot site? Visit the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Mississippi’s website or call them at 601-939-5504.