“Have you considered donor milk? We’ve seen some great results for moms whose milk is taking longer to come in.”
Ummmm…are you asking if I want to give my brand new baby someone else’s expressed milk?? No, thank you.
So, here I am. I just gave birth to a perfect baby boy and I’m waiting impatiently for my milk to come in. Mick is two days old and he is stinking adorable, but he was 9lbs at birth and HUNGRY…he embarked on a three-hour nursing spree upon arrival. At this point in my newly-found motherhood, I was dead set on breastfeeding exclusively; my child was not going to get any formula. Side note- this viewpoint changed a few months later. I love the #breastisbest sentiment but ultimately #fedisbest became my motto after having some breastfeeding issues.
I’m probably 48 hours into this whole taking-care-of-a-person experience and my most important function is to feed him. And I can’t. And I’m so upset. Baby Mick is either sleeping or crying and these two parents are at their wits’ ends. Hubby wants us to give in and give him formula saying, “he’s starving. Give him some bleeping formula!” “No,” I say. “He’s not starving. I know that he’s getting colostrum so he’s fine. Let’s wait another day.” We waited another day and then another and Baby Mick ended up losing more weight than the doctors liked, so we had to stay another day in the hospital.
And then we were given an alternative option by one of the nurses. The donated breast milk. You heard my initial reaction of “heck no,” but then I started asking questions. I discover that the process is pretty intense. The donating mom goes has to complete an interview and health assessment, the milk is pasteurized, it’s stored a certain way and goes through a host of other regulated steps. This milk is safe, fresh and available at my hospital for this exact situation, for a mother who wants to breastfeed but who can’t.
Okaaaaay, I’ll consider it–but how does it work? Well, the milk is brought in a 3oz container and is hooked up to a tiny plastic tube. The tube is taped to the mom’s breast with the tip of the tube ending at the nipple. Then, the baby latches onto the nipple and gets the milk exactly like a breastfeeding baby. Simply, amazing.
As soon as I learned about the process and how it worked, I was intrigued. Pair the intrigue with the incessant wailing of Baby Mick and I was more than willing to try it out. Being new to breastfeeding (and attaching a tiny tube to my boob), I needed the help of a lactation consultant. Any expecting mamas out there who want to breastfeed- ask your hospital for a lactation consultant. They are amazing and mine was extra amazing. She taped me up, taught me how to tell when he’s getting the milk and encouraged me to keep at it even when I was discouraged. Thank you, lactation nurse. I can’t even remember your name but you were SO important to me!
Seeing my baby get his belly full of milk for the first time was the most gratifying/relieving feeling of my entire life and I have some anonymous, overly supplying woman to thank. During this breastfeeding awareness month, I felt that it was really important to shed light on donated breast milk. It positively impacted my life and I’m sure countless others. I am so grateful for the women who give to our local hospital and I am forever in their debt!!