Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Donating Breast Milk

What happens when, at even a mere little stature, you make more breast milk than you could possibly ever feed your child with? In fact, your "loved" ones, while you attempt to contain your overflowing boob fountain, exclaim "you could feed an entire maternity ward" and expect you not to hit them.

What do you do? You donate it, of course.

Baba was a good eater. And, I apparently, was a good feeder. Little chunk doubled her birth weight in something like three hours. That might be exaggerating only slightly, but one day I looked at her to see the cutest little muffin top growing above her diaper. As a new breast feeder (and soon to be huge advocate for it), I knew I must be doing something right.

Granted, it wasn't always sunshine and puppy dogs. Girl could eat. And, did she ever. It was exhausting. I couldn't eat enough to fuel myself. But, it was well worth every minute.

When I returned to work, I started a hate affair with my pump. And, I pumped with another woman from my office who gave birth a few days after I did. Funny how any sense of modesty is gone after having a baby and there's no hesitation in flashing boobs. Said pumping friend would marvel at how much I would get from each pumping session - upwards of 8 ounces - per side. Twice a day.

You do the math.

Baba consumed three 4 - 6 ounce bottles during the day, leaving me significant leftovers that I froze. Soon husband began commenting, "so...should we buy another freezer?" That got me thinking. Could I use this precious gift was nourishing my girl so well to benefit other babies that maybe hadn't gotten so lucky?

I wanted to donate some of this milk.  But, I wasn't sure where to start. I did know that I wanted to donate through a reputable milk bank and not through Craig's List or the like. Although perfectly healthy, I wanted to be sure that, in no way, did I put any other baby in danger with my milk.  I assumed I was in perfect health, and I knew a Milk Bank would do the work for me to ensure that fact.

Turned out there are Milk Banks all over the United States. I googled to find one closest to me. Even if there wasn't one in my state, they make it really easy for you to donate from wherever you are. There is a National Milk Bank as well - but, I found solace in the fact that my state's Milk Bank brought milk back to my town. More of an emotional decision, I suppose.

Once I contacted the Milk Bank, they really did the brunt of the dirty work. I had to fill out some forms and have my blood drawn at my local hospital. Cool part: Because of my decision to donate, my hospital became a partner with the Milk Bank and they drew my blood for free! They sent the blood to the bank and when all cleared, I was ready to donate.

Most Milk Banks have pretty strict rules about collection of milk; however, it honestly wasn't different than what I was doing anyway: wash hands before pumping, clean all pump parts after each pump, store milk of like temperatures only, etc. It wasn't complicated. They sent me a box and dry ice and I shipped off 230 ounces to arrive the next day.

At the end of the day, the Milk Bank processed and pasteurized the milk making it completely safe for any critically ill or premature babies that desperately needed it.

Call it a "feel good" decision, call it whatever you want. At the end of the day, if I positively impacted the health of one other baby in this country and gave that one baby a fighting chance to get stronger and grow healthy, it was worth every minute with my pump.



  1. I actually read your post while pumping milk on my 2nd day back to work. Ha ha. Love the fact that you donated!

    1. Hey Kami! How is your return to work going?! I know it's tough in the beginning, but I can assure you that it gets easier! Did you ever catch our post on pumping at work?!