We love guest posts from our readers! The following is one mom’s story of struggling with oversupply and finding a silver lining through breastmilk donation. It’s inspiring AND informative, so be sure to share! Special thanks to our guest writer, Brycee Loyola!
My introduction to donating breastmilk came through my frustration with breastfeeding. I had what is called “oversupply,” a condition that comes with its own set of challenges. It’s all a blur as I look back on it now, but I remember laying down as my daughter gulped the milk and coughed and got extra spit-uppy. It was a messy time and I was full of questions and stress. As I looked for answers, I connected with the Lactation Care Center RGV. They connected me with information on donating my milk (see bottom of article).
Learning to breastfeed:
Along with many moms who breastfeed, the moment I began trying, I realized how difficult and complex breastfeeding can be. I was determined to breastfeed past the pain, the uncomfortable moments, and past any doubts that may have arisen. It wasn’t until the other day, while I was dropping off my last bit of breastmilk for donation, that I realized how little education there is on breastfeeding. I received most of the helpful and useful advice after looking for help both online (kellymom.com was particularly useful), and by calling hotlines, both local and statewide.
Asking questions, seeking answers, and leaning on friends:
When I went to DHR (Doctor’s Hospital at Renaissance), I spoke to Gabby, a really sweet and passionate nurse that cares for the preemies and micro preemies that are born there. We began talking about breastfeeding and she shocked me with the statistics about donating and breastfeeding. She explained how they go to clinics and try to encourage breastfeeding, and how sometimes pediatricians may inadvertently discourage moms by advising that moms supplement with formula because it may be easier. Please know that I understand that not all moms are able to breastfeed, but I also understand some may not have the information about establishing and maintaining their supply. Breastfeeding and/or formula feeding is a personal decision, of course.
As with most new moms trying to breastfeed for the first time, I went through the question of using formula to supplement because of my exhaustion (lack of sleep + my daughter nursing for hours and days straight). As I talked to two wonderful mom friends who were figuring out breastfeeding and learning how to pump, I realized I was collecting large amounts and still had oversupply. This led me to consider donating more seriously.
The many benefits of donating milk:
The process of donating was not difficult; I continued to use my pump to collect breastmilk and began to accumulate some while I filled out some information (2-3 easy pages), had a quick phone interview, and got my blood taken. The interview and blood they take is to ensure I would be eligible to donate. The whole process was not too difficult, and they answered a lot of my questions. They gave me the ok to drink coffee (thank GOD!), and asked me to inform them when I took any medication. The lactation center had advised me to collect for myself for about a month, just in case I couldn’t breastfeed for some reason.
I strongly encourage anyone who thinks they can to get involved by donating and/or volunteering. Donating is made as convenient as possible. These people understand busy moms. I would collect the milk and add my donor number either on the containers, which they provide, or in a post-it inside the plastic bags. Since I collected for a while, I only dropped off the milk 3 or 4 times. I would call Gabby (my donation contact) to make sure she would be available, and then I would go through the outpatient area and she would pick up the bags. I didn’t even have to leave my car. I was also told that they could send someone to pick it up if I didn’t live near a drop-off spot. The would even help me with the things I would need to send it through the mail!
Currently, there are only about 25 milk banks in the entire United States! As we continued talking, Gabby mentioned that where she is from originally, there is a milk bank at almost every hospital. This made me realize how much work there is still to be done educating the public and helping out new moms and their babies, especially the premature and micro-premature babies, who drink about 12 ounces a day. These babies need about 12 ounces a day, as they receive extra nutrients from breastmilk that help them fight infections and prevent SIDS. You can help them succeed in developing and growing and staying alive since many of their moms are unable to breastfeed at the time, due to the fact that their bodies were not expecting the babies yet.
Currently, there are dropoff locations at The Women’s Hospital at Renaissance in Mcallen and Valley Regional Medical Center in Brownsville.
For breastfeeding questions, always seek the advice and help of your doctor.