Erlanger now accepting breast milk donations to help moms in need
For the first time ever, a milk depot will open in Chattanooga.
It's where moms can donate breast milk to other moms in need.
Erlanger received its first milk donation Wednesday.
For Leslie Dawes, donating her breastmilk was a no-brainer
"For me, it felt like a win-win because I was like I can help people and it doesn’t take much effort so why not," Dawes said.
The young mom was screened for a week before becoming Erlanger Hospital's first donor.
Doctors looked for any harmful medications and diseases like HIV.
"They gave me more information, and I just ended up packaging up the milk according to the specifications and just brought it in," Dawes explained.
Dawes, like many doctors, believes breastfeeding, if moms are able, is the best option. Helping lower the risk of cancers and illnesses, but also helping premature babies survive.
"They are less likely to get the necrotizing enterocolitis, which is very serious. It can cause death," Sandy Riese, RN and lactation consultant. "When micro preemies first get fed we’re talking about one ml a feeding eight times a day, so 80 ml a day."
One hundred thousand ounces. That's how much breastmilk Erlanger hopes to collect through the first milk depot in Chattanooga each year.
The milk is pasteurized then sent off to a milk bank and into the hands of a mom in need.
"We are actually working on getting a donor milk bank in Nashville, but until that is open, we are shipping our milk to Austin, Texas, and then they process it," Traci Josephsen, Clinical ABP for Women's Health at Erlanger, said.
Motherhood is not easy. And there's no way one way to raise a child, but these donations may make the journey less challenging.