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Local mom highlights the importance of breast milk donations

Posted at 10:14 PM, Sep 03, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — One local mom is highlighting the importance of breast milk donations — a needed nutrition for babies who are born premature.

“I don’t think people realize how lifesaving it can be. I’ve been told every drop counts, and that’s very true,” Emily Troyer said.

The Milk Bank needs over 62,000 ounces of milk each month to meet the needs of Indiana babies. A few neighboring states also use the milk bank for babies in need.

Troyer’s daughter was born premature at 28 weeks. At the time, she wasn’t sure if she would be able to produce enough milk to keep her daughter healthy.

“With the NICU, it’s very stressful. A lot of times when you are stressed out, you can’t produce. It affects your milk supply,” Troyer said.

Troyer says she knew her daughter was going to be born premature because she had a complicated pregnancy. She and her daughter were in the hospital for 93 days.

“It was very much a wake-up call about how many people go through this and how stressful it can be,” Troyer said.

Luckily for Troyer, she was able to produce enough milk for her daughter. Then six months after giving birth, she found out she was pregnant with her son.

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The Milk Bank partnered with Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital to open the Milk Depot in March.

Troyer says soon she was producing too much milk, so she immediately started donating it to the Milk Depot.

“It makes me feel really good. There’s somebody my husband and I know from college whose son was born at 31 weeks. He actually developed NEC and passed away within 10 hours,” Troyer said.

NEC stands for Necrotizing Enterocolitis, a common disease of the intestinal tract that premature babies are susceptible to.

“Very premature babies are extremely at risk and breast milk helps prevent that. It also helps them to gain weight better,” Liz Lucas, Women’s Program Manager at Ascension St. Vincent, said.

Ascension St. Vincent Women’s Hospital says about half of all NICU babies will end up needing donated milk at some point of their stays in the hospital. That’s why donors like Troyer are vital to their mission.

“It takes over 1,000 new milk donors every year, which is a lot of moms helping other moms,” Lucas said.

As for Troyer, she hopes sharing her donation story will encourage others to give back to moms who are oftentimes dealing with the most stressful time in their lives.

“I think people need to realize how important it is. If you can donate, do so because there are a lot of moms who wish they could supply for their babies but can’t,” Troyer said.

Those who are interested in donating will need to fill out a form and go through a screening process.

For more information, click here.