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Oxford Family Pharmacy to serve as milk drop-off

Lactating mothers who find them- selves with an abundance of Mother Nature’s perfect food, can now share their milk with other a mother who cannot provide her own milk to her infant.

Oxford Family Pharmacy will serve as Oxford’s only depot for the Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi where breast milk can be dropped off and delivered to area hospitals.

Jimmy and Jennifer Yancy used to own the gift shop inside Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and handled the sale and rentals of breast pump machines. After they left the gift shop to open Oxford Family Pharmacy, the only place in Oxford with breast pumps available for rent was Peas and Carrots children’s clothing store. However, the store closed more than a year ago.

“I got a call from Kathy Shoalmire who was the breast feeding specialist at Baptist, who asked if we would sell and rent the pumps at the pharmacy,” Jennifer Yancy said recently. “Then she called me again last month and asked if we would be willing to be the depot for the Mother’s Milk Bank.”

It wasn’t a hard choice for the Yancys who had a premature son and remembered how breast milk kept him strong and healthy in those early months of life.

“I had to pump for 13 months and I know it made a huge difference in his health,” Jennifer said.

On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., at Oxford Family Pharmacy, Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi and the pharmacy will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the official opening of the milk depot.

“The closest place for mothers to bring their milk is in Tupelo,” Yancy said. “This will give them a place nearby where mothers can donate their milk.”

Babies who are born prematurely benefit greatly from their own mother’s milk, according to Shoalmire. The composition of mother’s milk depends on the gestational age of the baby. In fact, as the baby grows, the mom’s milk will change to reflect what the baby needs in terms of nutrients, whey/casein composi- tion, as well as antibiotic protection.

“When a mom cannot provide her own milk, then milk from another mother is second best,” Shoalmire said.

One of the greatest risks to premature infants is necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Mother’s milk and donor milk can reduce infant mortality from this disease by 77 percent.

Mothers who want to donate milk must be screened by the Milk Bank and then the milk is pasteurized and kept in a deep freezer where it is good for about six months. After Oxford Family Pharmacy collects enough milk, it will be picked up and brought to children’s hospitals.

Milk is received by, processed and stored by the Mother’s Milk Bank until it is distributed to a child in need by a physician.

Donor mothers are women who are currently lactating and have surplus milk. All donors must be in good general health, and undergo a screening process.

“While the mothers are all screened, the milk is re-screened to make sure it’s safe,” Yancy said. “We are very excited to be a part of this and I believe a lot of mothers in Oxford will participate. We have generous, health-conscious people here.”

For more information, visit www. msmilkbank.org.