Breast milk is one of the most nourishing and precious gifts a newborn can receive. But when new moms are unable to offer that gift, donor milk is needed, especially for premature babies.
Breast milk donations in our area are sparse, but a new drop center on the Treasure Coast is helping to improve the situation.
About 10 percent of babies born in Florida are premature and born weighing less than 5 pounds.
Beth Hawn has been a nurse for 40 years and says breast milk for the smallest infants is critical.
"The priority is that babies 3 and half pounds and smaller get breast milk, and actually there is not enough in this state to feed those babies," said Hawn.
It's the reason Tradition Medical Center is now partnering with “Mothers' Milk Bank of Florida," a nonprofit that gathers, screens and disseminates donor breast milk to premature babies across the state.
Tradition Medical Center in Port St. Lucie has a new drop site for donors who have more than their babies need. Moms like Rebecca Fitzgerald, who is also a nurse at the hospital, is one of the first people to donate to the program.
"It's kind of like donating blood, you wouldn't think that donating blood is disgusting because it's the norm. We talk about [blood donations] and people don't talk about donating breast milk and the life-saving benefits that that can bring," said Fitzgerald.
Keep in mind you have to be a healthy non-smoker to donate breast milk.
The donation drop-spot at Tradition Medical Center opened in late September.
The milk bank is a non-profit organization and the hospital does not profit either.