It’s a double post night, but it’s because I think this is important.
I made my first breast milk donation almost two weeks ago and it is my favorite thing I’ve ever done (you know, outside of marrying my husband and having my baby).
Listen, I am TOTALLY a “fed is best” kind of girl in EVERY SITUATION EXCEPT NICU babies. The science is just there that the breastmilk is easier on the super tiny tummies. It’s also a pretty good chance that if you have a baby in a NICU, you’ve been through a trauma and breastfeeding could be pretty tough for you. This is why I felt strongly about donating my excess to a milk bank that is a part of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. I thought about donating to a local mom and if I’m still pumping after 12 months I might do that (the banks only take donations up to 12 months PP), but for now I feel like the excess milk can best be used by the babies who really really need it.
So three weeks ago I started the process. I got screened over the phone, filled out the paperwork, got cleared by my OB and C’s PCP, and got my blood drawn. Once I was fully approved we loaded up 600 ounces in a cooler and took it to the local depot that accepts it on behalf of the closest milk bank (which is a state away). I reserved 200-300 ounces in the freezer just in case of a rainy day (read: a nursing strike) and now I’m building up for my next donation.
Donating milk makes me feel like I’m giving back to the universe for giving me my baby. At first the oversupply was hell. It was hard on C until she worked it out and I got it slightly more under control. When I decided not to go back to work I thought about not pumping anymore-I had plenty banked to cover the one afternoon a week I spend away from my baby, but then I thought maybe I could do something for someone else. I only pump twice a day-I can handle doing that for what is a relatively small period of my life.
I’m not doing all this to say “Hey look at how great I am.” but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t proud. I took a picture of C with the cooler the day we were dropping it off so that someday I can show her that just by being born she helped out hundreds of babies.
She was too fascinated by the lady making room in the freezer to look at her dad when he was taking the picture. Then they sent me this t-shirt this week on a day when I really needed some reassurance that I was a good mom:
When I posted it on facebook a friend of mine who is a nurse said that this milk bank supplies the NICU at her hospital and thanked me on behalf of the premies and their mommas. And I cried. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a premie in the hospital. The last thing those moms need to worry about is how to get their babies the milk they need if they are struggling with supply.
Anyway, I know oversupply isn’t common, but if you have extra milk I encourage you to look into donation. It is a gift like no other and I’m really glad that I was given the honor of giving it.