Mother's milk is a miracle worker when it comes to nursing premature babies back to health.
"The mother's milk, it somehow knows what this baby or these babies need," said Stephanie Gable. As a certified lactation consultant with Memorial Hospital, Gable knows all the benefits of mother's milk. Perhaps the most miraculous, however, is the power to heal - an elixir for life, so to speak, for premature babies.
"They need their mother's milk, or a mother's milk. It was made for them. And when they're premature or sick, then they need that even more. They're little immune systems are non-existent," explained Gable.
Some moms, though aren't able to provide milk for their babies. Much like blood donors, they rely on milk donors to help save their babies' lives. Each donor is screened through an interview, medical records, and blood testing.
Last November, Memorial Hospital in Gulfport became a milk donation collection site. So far, they've shipped about 4,000 ounces of donated milk to a milk bank in Texas. But Mississippi just opened its first milk bank. Mothers' Milk Bank of Mississippi should come online within the next year.
"Having a milk bank of our own is really a positive for Mississippi because we'll have that milk more readily available to the babies in Mississippi, including the Gulf Coast." Gable stressed the significance this milk bank would have in our state, saying "Mississippi is still number one in premature births, and we're one of the highest in obesity, heart disease, diabetes. All that's associated with not having received breast milk when you were a baby."