New breast milk depot in north Alabama helps our tiniest citizens

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MADISON, Ala. - Experts say breast milk gives babies a healthy start that lasts a lifetime. But not all babies can reap the benefits. That’s why the need for donor milk is so very important.

Now, thanks to a new facility in Madison, mothers and babies have more options.

Connections Breastfeeding supports the Mother’s Milk Bank of Alabama.  They collect breast milk donations from women all across the Tennessee Valley. Then, the Mothers’ Milk Bank of Alabama, which is located in Birmingham, processes and distributes the milk to north Alabama hospitals, where it’s given to babies in need or sick or premature infants.

At Huntsville Hospital, for example, extremely low birth weight babies in the NICU can be given breast milk if their mothers are unable to produce milk.

One of the first mothers to receive donor milk was Calie Franklin. Her baby, Ivey, was born two months early, and Calie was determined to give her fragile baby the vital nutrients that breast milk provides.


Mom Calie Franklin & her 4 month old baby Ivey.

"As soon as I knew she was going to be delivered early," said Franklin, "I started thinking that I need to have some milk for her... From someone else if it's not going to be from me.”

Ironically, on the day Ivey Franklin was born, Huntsville Hospital got its first shipment of donor milk.

The World Health Organization reports that every year, more than 20 million infants are born weighing less than 5.5 pounds – over 96% of them in developing countries. These low birth babies are at risk for things like early growth retardation, infectious diseases and developmental delay.

That’s why WHO recommends low birth babies be fed their mother’s breast milk or donor milk as a second option.

Elizabeth Dunaway is a Co-Director at Connections Breastfeeding's milk depot. She says this is the best model of 'pay it forward,' because we all at some time in our lives need some help.

“With this option, mothers can provide breast milk for her baby - even if she’s not making it herself,” said Dunaway.

Mothers, remember that you have to ask for the donor milk while you're in the hospital.

And if you're interested in donating, Connections Breastfeeding has made the process and screening painless.  Click here to get connected.  The facility is located at Journey Massage, at 1874 Slaughter Road, Madison, AL 35758.