Donating Breast Milk Is Easier Than You Think
I’m the mother of preemies. I knew our twins were coming early because the circumstances of our pregnancy required that they be delivered via c-section at 32 weeks if they didn’t decide to come earlier…which they did. It was the nature of our situation and one that required we face a number of possible scenarios in the days that followed their 28 week delivery.
One of those decisions was to decide if we would feed our little ones breast milk donated from another mother if for some reason my milk did not come in. Being that I was going to deliver so early, and the fact that there was a lot of stress involved in my strict bedrest, highly medicated scenario, it was possible that we would experience complications.
We also knew that we were looking at the possibility of very sick children and breast milk, when they were able to tolerate feeds, was the best option for their very fragile bodies. So, if my milk didn’t come in, donation was a real consideration for us. Thankfully, it all worked out and I was able to provide milk for those little 2lb feisty gals who are now thriving two year olds driving their mama batty.
But, what if I hadn’t been able to? At the time, I was surprised to find out that there were mothers out there donating their hard earned breast milk to mothers like me who were faced with the possibility of not being able to feed their children who, for obvious reasons, could benefit from that donation.
Who knew? Not me.
And in the fog of those months in the NICU, I didn’t do my due diligence to find out how I could donate my “Ol’ Bessy” supply of milk, because it turns out that the hospital pump made this mama produce some serious milk - and I so regret that I didn’t look into donation, because I did have extra.
Fast forward a few years, and a great friend of mine recently decided to pump an extra month after weaning her son so she could donate breast milk to a baby in need. I was so touched and honored to call her my friend because she took the time to do the research, to contact the company and figure out how to pay it forward.
She said she did it with our girls in mind because she remembered them and the babies like them who would need that “liquid gold” to fight the good fight in the NICU.
So, I figured I could make up for my lack of donation back then by breaking it down for those of you who might be curious (and still producing), in a quick and dirty fashion.
Here are the details from Helping Hands Milk Bank:
- If you are generally healthy, do not take medication regularly, your baby is healthy, you do not smoke and you have a freezer that meets the freezing specifications (most freezers do) - then you will likely qualify for donation.
- It’s an easy health screen process to qualify. Donor screening is done at no charge to you. You get a blood test and a cheek swab for a DNA profile. They use the DNA profile to cross match your donations as you send them in to ensure there is no mix up.
- You can donate previously pumped milk (milk you stored prior to being screened) as long as it’s no older than 10 months and falls in line with their pumping guidelines.
- Nearly all breast milk donated goes to sick babies in the hospital, many in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
For those of you who have an overabundance of milk, or just the extra will to pump a little longer, like my friend, this is a fantastic cause to donate to. You will be supplying babies who need those extra immunities to fight for their lives, and that is no small thing. I applaude you for considering it if you are in a place where you can do it, or if you might be in the future.
Have additional questions? Ready to take the next step? Head to the Helping Hands Milk Bank to find out more.
Images: Helping Hands Milk Bank