BEND, Ore. - At just 5 days old, little Olivia Jean is one happy, healthy baby girl.
First time mom, Jasmine Clawson is quickly learning the ropes.
"She was four days overdue -- she came exactly when she wanted to," Clawson said Wednesday.
What didn't come was Jasmine's milk.
"When the baby is crying because she's hungry and you don't have the ability to give them what they need in that moment, it's really hard for a mom," Clawson said.
But thanks to the generosity of others, Olivia was still able to benefit from mothers' milk. Just not her own mother's.
"About four years ago, we started contracting with milk banks in both San Jose, California and Mothers Milk Bank in Portland to provide this human-donated milk for our NICU babies whose mother couldn't provide milk for them," said Becky McColl, a lactation specialist at St. Charles.
Many experts agree: The health benefits of breast milk for newborns are incomparable.
"Human donor milk in the NICU is actually a life-saving thing -- it isn't just an option, it isn't something that's just nice to have," McColl said.
St. Charles orders 400-500 ounces of breast milk a month from the bank in Portland.
The more women who donate extra breast milk, the more mothers get the help they need, just like Clawson.
"If I have an over-abundance of milk, and when the time comes, I'm definitely willing to donate, because that's just such a gift for any new mom," Clawson said.
St. Charles, the Central Oregon Breastfeeding Coalition and other local partners are hosting a milk drive on May 31st to help support the NICU babies and the milk banks.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Central Oregon Locavore on First Street in Bend.
Time is of the essence. Moms: You need to start pumping now to get extra milk in time for this event.
For more information, visit http://www.breastfeedingor.org/events/