In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we are highlighting the importance of donor human milk.
A few weeks ago, we asked our community on Instagram to share experiences of donating their breastmilk with us. The response was tremendous and we are honored to share the stories.
How did it make you feel?
- Nervous at first, and then great! At first, I almost felt this urge to hoard all of my surplus “just in case.” I was operating out of a place of fear. Donating helped me actively shift out of this fear-based mentality. It’s also hugely fulfilling! Not only was I grateful for the opportunity to share my milk with another baby, I felt like this was the first opportunity I had to teach my daughter to share and do good. — Rebekah, Houston, TX
- I felt good, empowered, and needed. I’m glad I could help a mom in need in such a small way which likely went a long way. – Nicole, Los Angeles, CA
- Great. I was so grateful to be able to make a difference in this way to help babies in our community. — Alexandria Sooch, Austin, TX
- I get emotional thinking about it. It made me so happy knowing that another baby, just like my son, would be nourished and taken care of. It could potentially save a life. – Gaby, Naval Officer, San Diego, CA
- I felt very fortunate. Once I heard a story from my coworker about her little boy born in the middle of the 2nd trimester. He survived and is a fully healthy 7 year old now, but she told me those months in NICU/PICU were the hardest. – Kali, Reno, NV.
- At the end of my phone interview, the milk bank coordinator ended the conversation with, “And thank you for choosing The Mother’s Milk Bank at Austin. One ounce of your breast milk feeds a preemie three meals.” Thinking about that tiny preemie that can only eat that much at once made me realize I was making the right choice. And I can only imagine how the recipient families felt. — Holly, Austin TX
- I truly feel like I am making a difference in someone’s life by donating. There are times when I’m exhausted and I feel like I can’t keep it up, but then I remember the sweet little girl who is being nourished by my milk and it makes it 100% worth it. — Cassidy, Austin, TX.
- Breastfeeding and giving my extra milk away is one of the most significant ways in my life that I’ve personally been able to help support others in a real and tangible way, and see results from it. I struggled a lot with PPD, and eventually was diagnosed with PTSD from the labor and delivery of my daughter. I believe breastfeeding and being able to donate really helped me cope in the in between of learning how to be a new mom and deal with depression and anxiety before I was actually diagnosed. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to provide something so special to so many. — Kimberly
- I honestly didn’t realize how proud I’d feel to drop off my first 300 ounces. Those bags represent so many hours sitting in my bathroom, alone, typically in the middle of the night, sacrificing in an enormous way for my own baby and his fellow tribe. I still can’t really believe what my own body has done. – Cat, Austin, TX
- Most days I felt really happy to be able to help my friend’s family out, and I truly did it out of love. I felt a connection to my friend and her baby, and that won’t go away. My friend always made it clear I was under no obligation and she expected nothing, but I felt internal pressure to continue to provide milk because I was afraid of disappointing them. I often downplayed the effort it took to pump milk to my friend because I didn’t want her to feel indebted or uncomfortable, which lead me to sometimes feeling like my efforts were not acknowledged as much as I sometimes craved. I felt a combination of relief and sadness when I stopped donating my milk. I realized it made me feel useful, in the postpartum time of uncertain identity and change. Of course, all of these feelings were commingled with postpartum hormonal changes. — Rebecca, Austin, TX
Looking back would you do it again?
- Absolutely! I still do. Any time I build up about 100 ounces I text her and she or her husband swing by my house and fill up a cooler. — Rebekah, Houston, TX
- Absolutely! Maybe with my next child. — Nicole, Los Angeles, CA
- Absolutely, 100%. I continue to pump and save any extra that I have so that I can donate it again. – Alexandria, Austin, TX
- Absolutely. And I will be come 6 August. I have my last stash of milk in my freezer. I am extremely emotional about it – it’s all I have left of my breastfeeding journey. But I know there is a child out there and a mama that need it, and my son and I are absolutely willing to share our journey with them. On my journey of supporting mothers I have found so much joy, and if I can bring that joy and that help to another mom, that would be the greatest gift to me. — Gaby, mother of 1, Naval Officer, San Diego, CA
- In a heartbeat. — Holly, Austin TX
- I am doing it now and would do it again in a heartbeat — Cassidy, Austin, TX.
- I do plan to donate again this time. I don’t know as many moms that are pregnant at the same time as me this time, so I may go the more medical route and try to donate through a hospital/NICU. –Kimberly
- I would. I could definitely see myself donating milk to a baby who truly needed it in the future. — Rebecca, mother of one from Austin, TX
Featured image Angela Doran