When researching for a previous blog post I had posted in a local group asking is any mom had blogs with stories of their experiences with donor milk. I feel it is important to share that using donor milk is possible and safe because some women truly are unable to breastfeed may that be due to a medical reason or lack of support in the early days and weeks. Making sure your little ones are able to get the liquid gold is possible! I feel women should be more encouraged to seek out donor milk and women who are able to pump and share should be encouraged to as well!
My daughter Riley was born at 37w4d. She was a whopping 8 pounds 5.2 ounces. Everything seemed great, except she couldn’t breathe properly. I got to hold her for a minute, then she was whisked off to the NICU for breathing assistance. My husband went with her while I got stitched up and cleaned up. He comes back and tells me the NICU gave her formula because her blood sugar dropped. At this point, I didn’t care because I wanted to hold my daughter. An hour and a half after my daughter was born, I FINALLY got to cuddle her for more than a minute. We tried to feed, but she was so full from the ounce and a half of formula they gave her prior so she wouldn’t even try to eat I go upstairs to my dismay (they just HAD to get me into my room. I just wanted to be with my little girl) and hand express some colostrum and attempt to pump. I got really discouraged when nothing was coming out with the pump.The facility wouldn’t let me go see her again until I used the bathroom. 4 hours later I finally get to see my daughter again. This time I fed her the colostrum I hand expressed and got her to latch. It was so painful. Every 2 hours I would go down and feed my daughter. I would be there for an hour, come back up, sleep for an hour or so, then get back up to go feed her. Supplementing every time.
If she was in my room, we would have fed on demand, not on a schedule like the hospital wanted. The next day, she was able to come up to my room because she was able to breathe on her own. We fed on demand, but she always seemed hungry so we continued to supplement. We had a couple good feedings from just the breast. We went home the third day, sore boobies and all. I never got that engorged feeling. That should have been my first hint that the NICU destroyed our breastfeeding relationship but I was a first time mom so who knew? I continued to feed her on demand, even let her use me as a pacifier to try and save my supply.
I started taking supplements to up my supply as well. There was no improvement. A week later she was diagnosed with a tongue tie, lip tie and I was diagnosed with low supply. Every time we did a weigh and feed, she never got more than 1.2 ounces. That is from both breasts. I continued to pump and feed on demand and try to up my supply until Riley was 2 months old. Then I gave up. I was so stressed about my supply that it was making it even worse. We switched to formula.
Well, formula was a terrible choice. She spit up a lot and she was always constipated. That’s when I decided to seek out donor milk. I had no idea where to start. This is when my friend introduced me to Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies. My husband was weary at the idea of using donor milk because of the risks involved since it is not screened like a milk bank. However, we couldn’t afford to buy her milk so I took the leap and connected with a wonderful mama who had donated to us for 6 months! It was a wonderful experience. She was very up front about what she ate, any medicines she took, etc.
I have connected with a couple other mamas as well to try and keep her on breast milk as long as possible. We are going on 7 months of breast milk! All from donors who we have never had any problems with! My husband is totally on board now as well because he notices how much happier Riley is when she is getting breast milk rather than formula. My daughter, who is now 9 months old, is a whopping 20 pounds and in 18 month clothing! I feel like my daughter would not be growing as wonderfully and would not be as healthy if she were on full formula. Especially with the problems we experienced in the beginning when she was put on full formula for a couple weeks. Our goal is 1 year on breast milk, even if it is mixed with formula. With pages like Eats On Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies, this could be a very realistic goal for my daughter and I. It has been an amazing journey and I always recommend donor milk and these two sites for mamas who are having supply issues or other medical issues that do not allow them to breastfeed. Milk sharing has made my daughter happy, which makes mama happy, which makes the household happy! I pray that with my next child, I have a better experience and I can be on the donating side of milk sharing as it is the best gift that I have ever received for my daughter and I want to be able to give someone else that gift. Breast is best, and just because I can’t give it to her, doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve it. These sites have made it very possible. I have gotten to know all of her donors very well, and if we decide it is a good match, then we meet for donation. I could always say “no” to someone that just doesn’t seem right. Milk sharing is wonderful. I’d rather see someone donating it rather than selling it for a profit. Which I hope to do in the future. Thank you milky mamas, for allowing my daughter to benefit from your amazing gift.