Why you should donate your breast milk and how you can do it

I have been blessed with a good milk supply that nourishes my little girl and allows me to give to others who need it. Before I had my 4th baby, I didn’t know much about breast milk donation. I had heard about it once before but knew nothing about how it worked or why women would want to give their child another womans milk. The topic came up again but I cannot remember exactly where or how it did but it peaked my interest. I read up on it and heard stories on ‘Mother to Mother’ donating and thought it seemed like a wonderful opportunity for me to share the milk I had collecting in my freezer. My daughter only took her milk straight from the tap so what supply I had stored was just sitting there.

I shared this video on Facebook today. Its a woman I had met through Human Milk 4 Human babies organization on Facebook while I was posting about wanting to donate my milk.  Judy and her husband are foster parents and have been fostering for the last 11 years and has opened her home and heart to 52 abused and neglected children. Her 45th foster baby was born with 27 critical health issues and with the help of breast milk, healed on so many levels. Breast milk from a donor helped to save this little girls life. A true testimony to the healing powers breast milk has. This is her story below…

I was the foster mother of little Jayden, born without a Pancreas. I gave her donated breast milk when she was just three months old, weighing only 4 pounds. Her little body had shut down so entirely that she wasn’t able to see or hear….only continue her heart beating. Breast milk saved her life. Within days of starting breast milk, she could see and hear! Her blood sugar levels completely stabilized with her new diet of donated breast milk. Because she is one of only 17 known cases in the entire world, she has become known as quite a little Miracle!
But what I wanted to share with you all is that we have had 250+ “pumpin’ mamas” generously donate enough breast milk to keep Jayden alive! She is 2 1/2 years old now, and since she is Diabetic (and will be forever), her intake of breast milk continues to stabilize her blood sugar enough that she is the only one of the 17 we know of, that doesn’t require having her blood sugar ‘tested’ throughout the night. Others her age are still tested every 2 hours around the clock. Often upon testing, these other children need insulin or food to regulate their blood sugar. Jayden is able to sleep soundly through each night and wake with a stabilized blood sugar level! You have no idea of how comforting that is! That reassurance is only because of YOU pumpin’ mama’s out there! YOU have saved her life. YOU have offered something that ONLY YOU can give!
If you know of other moms that are questioning what to do with their extra stash of breast milk, please share Jayden’s story. It isn’t ‘gross’ (as some have said) to give breast milk, allowing a child the chance to thrive in this world! It is an HONOR! God gave you the ability to make a difference in the life of another child! What a blessing that is! And it was also a blessing to come home from many of our daily doctor’s visits to find that someone had put a cooler full of donated breast milk on our front porch! We called it a “Miracle”…. We never had to worry about supply. Pumpin’ Mamas from all across the country did their part to make sure that Jayden would survive!
Now that Jayden and her brother have been adopted and have transitioned happily to their forever family, please say a prayer for her continued health and happiness. If you feel you can contribute more breast milk to her, please contact me. We promise to connect with her adopt family and be sure she gets your contributions.

You may want to read more about Jayden’s Story on my blog…. mamajudy.posterous.com.

Thank you, and May God Bless!!
Judy Wright

Ive also collected some other testimonies of moms who have donated.

My name is Nina Withers and I am 29 years old. I am a married Mom of a 20 month old son Liam and two step daughters Danielle and Mckinna (12 years and 16 years old). I also work full time for the Beverly Hills Police Department as a Property and Evidence Officer. I have a bachelors degree from California State Long Beach in Emergency Services and am currently enrolled in the Masters Program there as well. I enjoy spending time with my son and my family.

I have been breast feeding my son now since he was born (going on 2 years!!). When I first came back to work (Liam was 6 months almost 7) we tried giving Liam a bottle because I was pumping religiously at work 4 times to make sure I kept my supply up. Liam would not take a bottle after about a month but would nurse without a problem after I came home. I contacted my pediatrician to make sure that it was ok that he wasn’t taking in milk during my work day. She said that it wasn’t a problem since he was nursing from me when I came home and a few times in the middle of the night as well as all day on my 3 days off.  Being that this was going on (me pumping at work) I was stacking up loads of milk filled bags. I really pondered donating the milk. Who would in their right mind want my milk? I did a lot of research on line and found that there was an overwhelming desire for mother milk. I considered donating it to the NICU website I found but realized that it had to go through testing and that there was a chance some of it would be wasted, plus I was taking (and still am) the mini birth control pill so I didn’t even think I was a candidate because of that. So I found Eats on Feets and then realized they had a Facebook account which I “liked”. I typed in my blurb about my situation, my sons age, that I still take my prenatal vitamins religiously, no caffeine, no alcohol, no tobacco, my location etc and I got a few hits. Being that I pumped at work in Beverly Hills, it was ideal to find a family either close by or in the vicinity of my home. I found a mother that had a son few months younger than mine who lives in Santa Monica. I decided to meet with her to give her my milk and allow her to get to know me since she was giving her son my milk. She brought her son with her, who was also named Liam and we had an instant connection. Liam’s Mommy was nursing him but she wasn’t producing enough and wasn’t gaining enough weight for his age. It was such an amazing feeling that I had when I met them. As they left, I just felt this overwhelming sensation and started to cry. I just felt this amazing feeling of giving them a gift of mine, he was going to start gaining weight, get healthier and was going to sort of have a piece of my life. I am not sure if I am the only person who has felt this way (I’m sure my hormones are super sensitive from the breastfeeding as well) but it was really a nice feeling.

Liam’s Mommy didn’t need the entire batch of milk I had, so another family from San Diego contacted me. Their son was only a month younger than my Liam and had many issues with nursing. He had Ankyloglossia (toungue tied) and was unable to latch on properly to his mother. The family would drive up every few months from San Diego to pick up milk for their son Aiden. I still continue to donate to this family and have been doing so since last May 2011. They plan on giving their son my breast milk as long as I plan to pump! I enjoy every moment of it and it’s something that I will treasure for the rest of my life and would do again if I have another child. Just knowing that I am giving such a gift to another baby is an amazing feeling.

~Nina Withers

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My son is almost 4 months old and is not eating yet due to sickness. He’s still in the NICU. But since he was born I have pumped and froze milk for him. I have met some moms in the NICU who breast feed their babies as well. Just recently one of the moms who I have become close with got sick and her supply went down. Her daughter has a feeding tube and is currently on continuous feeding. She reached out to me knowing I had a lot of milk stored. So I donated as much as I could to help her until her supply came back. I was so happy I could help her in her time of need and I know if I ever needed the favor returned she would do the same for me.

~Krystle Keizer

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I came to the decision to donate my milk 1) to help others in a way that I know will help like nothing else 2) I’m not able to help with money to support someone else’s needs so I felt that this would help the baby’s and family’s so they do not have to buy formula 3) my daughter doesn’t take a bottle and all this milk was going to go to waste and I wanted someone to benefit from the stored milk and not have to pay 3+ dollars an oz from the milk banks 4) it just feels right and feels like right now it is what god wants me to do with my extra milk to help these gifts from him.

Advice 1) freeze your milk flat! It makes it easier to store the milk and thaw for the mommy recipient. 2) when storing your milk be thinking about normal size bottles that babies drink 3-5 oz in a bag. 3) when you donate inform the mommy whatever meds you have been on so they know an try to not eat spicy food it tends to upset the babies stomach. 4) remember to be excited about helping another family cause your milk helps another life. 5) try your bet to keep milk in a deep freeze it last longer.  6) remember to make sure you keep extra for yourself just in case something might happen (ie. you get sick or something to that matter).

I like to keep in contact with the mommy’s so I know how the babies are doing and if they need more milk and not have to search again for someone to donate to them.

Katie Mermis

Donating your breast milk can be the difference in a childs life they need to help them thrive. Mothers who cannot produce milk, have supply issues or may be on medication rely on a donor to help them get breast milk to their baby. Many will not be too sure about giving another womans milk to her child but if a woman is comfortable enough to accept this gift that another mother is selflessly giving to her and her child, then it is a beautiful thing and her baby will thank her for it later.

How do I donate my milk?

Donating your breast milk is so simple. It can be done a few different ways:

  • Informal milk donation, mother-to-mother
  • Formal milk donation to a HMBANA milk bank, to help babies in the NICU
  • Formal milk donation to Prolacta Bioscience, a for-profit milk processing company

Im more familiar with Informal milk donation personally. Its just easier and I know that the milk is going to a family who wouldn’t be getting charged for it. I do not believe in ‘selling’ my milk. There are websites out there that do offer this service. I personally believe that it is something that should be done out of the goodness of your heart, not for profit. The keyto this type of sharing is that you must put 100% trust into your donor to disclose to you any drugs, alcohol or illnesses. I put up front that I am a dairy consumer, I have a glass of wine on occasion and that I am 100% healthy and not on any type of medication. If the donor does not disclose this to you, your baby may experience a reaction to the milk. The upside to it, you form friendships and bonds with the families you donate to if you are a long time donor to them. A donor may even request you fill out a form with your medical history. Dont be offended by this. They need to know this information. They are trusting your milk with their child! It will ease their minds to know you can be upfront about things. Its kind of like a CarFax report! But for breast milk!

Milk banks may be a good option for mothers who qualify for insurance reimbursement or for mothers who can afford the expensive costs of banked milk which can reach $100+ a day. Certain mothers may qualify for this option, especially for infants who require breast milk to thrive, and it is easier to get milk from a bank that has already screened their donors and pasteurized the milk, though the the process of pasteurization is highly debated because it will destroy many of the very beneficial immiunological components of the milk.

You can also find resources on Facebook. Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets have a series of Facebook pages that you can use. There are individual Facebook pages for donating/looking for donations in your particular area or state.

Instruction for Freezing and Thawing of Milk

Did you know that the composition of breastmilk changes as a mother’s baby ages? So you would probably want to match with a donor who has a child around you age. Newborns need that first milk to help establish their gut flora properly where as an older child wont need that first milk as much and can gain from a donors milk with the composition suited for a child his/her age.

The pump you use is up to you. Pumps can cost between $40 and $300 depending on brand and model. You can also rent pumps or hand express.
You can store your breast milk in baggies made for breast milk. Depending on the brand of storage bags you use and how often you pump, this can cost you between $10 – $30 a month.

Donors need to:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly before you pump your breasts
  • Tell your recipient if you become sick or are taking any medication while pumping. This is critical because medication passes through your breast milk and a child with an allergy can have a serious reaction.
  • Wash all the parts that come into contact with your milk using hot, soapy water after each use
  • Keep breasts clean

I hope this helps answer any questions. This really is probably the most amazing gift a mother can give another mother struggling to give her baby breast milk.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask. As always Ill do my best to answer them or send you in the right direction of someone who can help!

MilkShare
Human Milk 4 Human Babies
Eats on Feets

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2 Responses to Why you should donate your breast milk and how you can do it

  1. jaqinoz says:

    What an inspiring post! I’m part of the milk bank in Cape Town, South Africa (www.milkmatters.org) and we see a huge gap between the very sick, fragile premature babies we can supply, and the other babies in the community that need breast milk but can sort of cope without it. Any increase in breastfeeding and breast milk supply will help babies, and normalise the fact that breast milk is both food and medicine to a baby, even if the act of breastfeeding is not possible. You might be interested in our first promo video clip made by a group of uni students as part of a project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–84g_uIuhE

    By the way, James Akre (co-author of “Milk sharing: from private practice to public pursuit” is trying to get hold of you. His paper, with contact details, is on
    http://www.internationalbreastfeedingjournal.com/content/6/1/8
    Best wishes
    Jacquie, IBCLC at Milk Matters

  2. Pingback: Will Big Pharma and FDA Soon Move to Regulate Mother’s Raw Breast Milk? | Health Impact News

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