Donating Breastmilk: A Mother’s Story

Donating breastmilk: A Mother's Story

The following story is by Monique Oosterveen, a truly amazing first time mama who did something so selfless during a time when many of us would feel overwhelmed with just being a 1st time breastfeeding mother. This is her story:

“When we start our breast milk journey, we all have to admit that we worry mainly about our supply!  Will my milk come in on time?  What if I don’t make enough milk?  What if it isn’t nutritious enough?  We can often keep doubting our ability to breastfeed.

But I have not once heard about the worry of having too much milk.  I’m talking about two fountains of endless milk, about not having enough breast pads to stop the leaking, about the urge to wake your peacefully sleeping baby because your breasts are too engorged!!

What do we do with the massive oversupply?

The logical thing of course, is to pump it and store it in the freezer, but what if the freezer fills up so quickly you run out of space for your frozen vegetables?

mum pumping breastmilk

Option 1:

You can use it in the baby’s bath, milk is great for their skin. One piece of advice?  Rinse the baby bath very well after the bath.  We discovered this after wondering why our very sweet little baby was suddenly smelling so sour!

Option 2:

You can make lovely soaps out of your milk, but you need to have the time and energy to search for a recipe then, then actually make them.

Option 3:

Or you can donate your breastmilk.  Yes that’s right: why not donate it?  There are many things you can donate, such as blood, hair for wigs etc, but you never hear much about donating your breastmilk.  Who uses it and how can you donate?

The Human Milk Bank

The Human Milk Bank is an amazing organization based in Co Fermanagh, that use donated breast milk for premature and sick babies.  To become a donor you can contact them and they will tell you exactly what they need from you and will explain the process. They are always responding to emails and phone calls. They send you a form via email which you have to fill in.  You can only donate if your baby is not older than 12 weeks.

The set up can take a bit of time. My baby was 2 weeks when I enquired and I started with the donation when she was almost 6 weeks old.

After you fill in the paperwork and send it all back to them they will send you 9 x 100ml practice bottles to fill.  This is to see how quick you fill them and if it is doable. After you fill the 9 bottles, you contact them again and they send out the other 30.  So in total you will donate 3.9 litres of breastmilk.

Mama feeding donated breastmilk to her premature baby

Along with those 30 bottles, they send up a blood kit as well.  This is for the blood test to make sure your health is acceptable for donation.  You don’t have the blood test done until the day before pick up (for example Friday if the milk is being picked up at the weekend).  They will send a courier to collect the milk bottles and the blood test.  The courier will bring it to the milk bank for processing.

A few weeks later you get a lovely letter in the post, telling you if they could use your milk or not, and a medal. I was delighted to find out that they could use my milk and that I helped some premature babies.

Premature Baby

The process is very simple and they help you every step of the way.  Just be careful when stacking all the milk bottles in your freezer, that they don’t fall out. This happened to me.  Thank god the milk bottle was alright; and that my partner’s foot stopped the impact.  Phew!!”

If you wish to know more about the The Human Milk Bank, visit www.westerntrust.hscni.net.  You can email:tmb.swah@westerntrust.hscni.net or tel:02868628333 from Northern Ireland or tel:04868628333 from the Republic of Ireland.

For a video explaining how the milk bank works check out:

 

 

I cover the Kerry/Limerick area, but also do online consultations. Not sure what service or advice is right for you?  Why not send me an email or contact me on 087 9351797.