Donating Breast Milk: Jessica T’s Story

As a follow-up to my post, Donating Breast Milk- A Mama’s Gift to Mamas and Babies, I wanted to interview a few mamas who’ve had personal experience donating breast milk. My goal was to find out how the process of becoming a donor actually works and share this information with you, our MSW readers.

Guest Mama Jessica T. is a born and raised southern California native. Mama to two boys, she is involved with her local Waldorf School where her oldest son attends and she works full-time outside the home. She claims to be a moderate “natural” or “attachment” parent, but thinks these are really just labels and doesn’t really define the way she has come to understand parenting, but they do inform and influence her parenting style. Check out the birth stories for both of her boys here and here.

How did you find out about breast milk donation? Did you donate through a Human Milk Banking Association of North America’s (HMBANA) milk bank?

My sister was having trouble nursing her baby and a friend offered to share some milk. Then later when I had my second son and he was showing signs of jaundice, the hospital was pressing for him to eat more and wanted to supplement with formula if I couldn’t pump enough (and my milk hadn’t come in yet). My sister smuggled in a couple ounces of her milk for my son, which helped him flush out the jaundice, and we could go home. When her son was in the hospital with croup, I pumped and brought some milk for him even though he’d stopped nursing since it was the only food he could keep down.

Image by Dan Lobo via Creative Commons

Did you donate through a Human Milk Banking Association of North America’s (HMBANA) milk bank? If not, why?

No. I couriered milk from my friend to my sister, and between two strangers that needed it once, but never through a milk bank. Milk banks have such a large volume minimum for donations that even when I had some extra, it was not worth donating to the milk bank.

Did you test your milk? How?

No. The people we received milk from were close, personal friends, and we just asked that they tell us if they took any over-the-counter medications, alcohol, or other substances. With one child we also asked about cow’s milk or caffeine.

Please describe the donation process. How did you package, send, meet-up, etc.?

Milk was packaged in two to five ounce bags straight from the pump, then it was frozen, and then transported on ice.

Donating Breast Milk: Jessica T's Story

Image by David Precious via Creative Commons

If you could donate again, is there anything you would change or do differently?

I would do it the same again. If I had enough to donate to a milk bank, I would find a non-profit. Otherwise, I would consider mother-to-mother sharing like through Eats on Feets.

What is your major take-away from this experience?

Human milk for human babies makes a huge difference, even in small amounts.

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