Prior to having my daughter, if you would have asked me if I was going to breastfeed or about the world of milk sharing (donating breastmilk) – I probably would have looked at you like you had 3 heads. I was, depending on how you look at it, gifted or cursed with an oversupply. I’ve mentioned my struggle before in other articles. Those who under produce view it as a gift. Those who have it view it as a curse. You can remedy it or you can exacerbate it depending on how you handle the situation.
She Has to Have Breastmilk for a Year
I was hell-bent on having enough milk for my daughter to have breast milk for a year. I pumped in the morning, twice at work, and in the evenings. It got to the point that my in-law’s freezer was filled with ounces upon ounces of breast milk and we just weren’t going through it fast enough. Not to mention I was still pumping, so the input to output ratio was off.
I remember my husband suggesting that I donate milk, which I had never really considered. There was the terrifying thought that my supply would tank, right as I donated, leaving my daughter without the milk I so desperately wanted her to have.
Deciding to Donate My Breastmilk
In the end, we decided that it would be best to donate my breastmilk – we were running out of room to store it! There are a few ways you can go about donating or milk sharing:
- Formally – Using a milk bank or organization that screens the milk and will have you fill out paperwork and answer a lot of health-related questions. This is typically the safer and more cautious approach (not that informally isn’t safe or cautious either, this one just requires more hoops). If your child has allergies or you want to make sure that the mother donating is healthy, maintains a specific diet, or isn’t abusing any drugs or alcohol this is the way to go.
- Informally – Locating a mother online, through mommy groups, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, or other various online channels. From what I can tell a lot of moms go the informal milk sharing route – Posting on Human Milk 4 Human babies, asking their local mommy groups, or just through a friend who knows a friend.
I Drink Coffee, I Hope That’s Ok!
When we decided to donate, I asked Googled “breast milk donation, Jacksonville, FL” and many results came up. My research pointed me in the direction of Human Milk 4 Human Babies Florida Facebook Page and I posted my first offer that night.
I made it a point to let those who might want my milk to know what my diet consisted of – the goods, the bads, and the coffees, all the coffees.
You want to be completely honest with who you may donate to. The thought of my milk hurting a baby was terrifying. There is a lot of trust that goes into donating and accepting donated milk.
Dang, That’s a lot of Milk, Mama
When it was all said and done, I was able to donate to four different families in total.
Over 3,000 ounces of milk.
Two of the families were just one-time meetups. One of the families was a little girl who had to have open heart surgery and her mom was hoping breast milk would help keep her weight up. I had some milk stashed at my Dad’s in St. Augustine and took it to her. She was beyond grateful and it was a little emotional for me.
The other family, the one I donated the most to, hold a special place in my heart. Every month or so I would reach out and ask if they needed more milk. The mother would drive down from Georgia to pick up and I would always get to see her daughter gaining weight and looking adorable (So adorable!!).
We ended up adding each other on Facebook and I get to watch her daughter grow and thrive – even if my milk isn’t what’s keeping her healthy anymore, I still love watching her grow up! We joked that our daughters are milky sisters.
If You are Able to Donate Breastmilk, Please Consider Doing So
It’s a complex and fantastic feeling to know you’re helping to feed not just your own baby, but others. I was worried that I would be taking away from my daughter by giving her milk to other babies in need. But when it was all said and done, my daughter was happy, healthy, chunky, and none the wiser that her milk was going to other babies. She even helped me pack them up and count them out when we donated.
There are people out there who try to sell their milk. That hurts my heart. I understand there is time and money that goes into it, but to try and sell it is just a crappy thing to do in my mind. Most of the mothers I donated to offered to replace the bags or offered gift cards to buy more pump parts/bags. I never once thought of taking money from someone when all they wanted to do was feed their child.
If you’re able to donate, you should consider doing so. Whether you choose to formally or informally donate, your donations go to a family and a child that needs it – and that’s something to feel good about.
Helpful Links for Donating Breastmilk:
Photos used by the author with consent