A few weeks ago I wrote about my breast milk donation journey. Talking about it hasn’t gotten old so if you haven’t seen my post- this cow donated a total of 1,323.5 ounces to 3 different babies. I smile every time I think about it, it was one of the most selfless and rewarding things I’ve ever done.
I knew I wanted to donate while I was doing research for this post and came across Heidi’s story. She’s a real life super hero and so inspiring. My son was not even a month old when I wrote that and I had already had a tiny bit of milk saved up…I was determined to donate every extra drop that I could and pumped extra every day to be able to do so.
I used a local Human Milk for Human Babies Facebook page to find Moms that could use my milk. All 3 of the Moms/babies I donated to were wonderful but I did have a few not so wonderful experiences which is what prompted me to write this post.
There is are a few unwritten “rules” that apply in situations like milk sharing that I thought might need to be spelled out for some:
– Some donors spend hundreds of hours hooked up to a pump, often spend their own money on storage bags, watch everything that goes into their body while producing and take a lot of pride in supply milk to a recipient. Please, give a simple “thank you”. Even better if you are comfortable, a hug. And icing on the cake- asking if you can replace storage bags and MAYBE even allowing your donor to take a peek at the little one benefiting from their milk. Two of my recipients did this for me and I can not tell you how much I appreciated that THEY appreciated, with every bone in their body, the fact that I was giving them the very best food for their babies.
– On the same hand donors, do not judge a Mom for not being overly thankful and jumping for joy the second she sees that huge bag of beautiful frozen milk you are carrying. Asking another for milk can be a very hard and emotional thing for a recipient Mom. You may not know why they can’t produce or what their unique situation is, and that is OK. Still give yourself a pat on the back and know that you are helping that Mom and baby more than her words or actions can express.
– If you are a recipient, drive to the donor. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they will meet you half way to cut back on your drive time but please remember that the donor has already spent A LOT of time producing this milk. Try to be on time and if you are running late, give her a heads up. I had a recipient back out on me 2 TIMES only to block me on FaceBook. It broke my heart that I couldn’t help her baby and it infuriated me that she’d waste my time when so many other Moms would have walked through burning coals to get my milk.
– Donors- always, ALWAYS meet in a public place. It is the safest thing for everyone involved. If your recipient is coming from out of town, maybe try to find a place on the side of town they will be driving into. If you can, try to think of a place that is family friendly…something with clean restrooms, a changing table and room to stretch. This will cut down on recipient’s time away from home which is especially appreciated if they have their little one with them.
– It is helpful for donors to freeze milk flat and in storage bags safe/durable enough for breast milk. Our favorite bags are by Lansinoh and are just under $25 for 100 bags on Amazon. Storing the bags flat will help with storage, will allow for them to thaw evenly and will make it easier to transport to your recipient.
– Both donors and recipients need to be aware of milk storage guidelines. Make sure you are transporting frozen milk in coolers and if it is a long trip, pack them with ice. Modern Milksharing has a wonderful article on shipping breast milk and even has links for companies that sell Styrofoam coolers that are perfect for packing frozen milk.
Anyone else out there have tips for successful milk sharing?