To the mothers who donate their breast milk:
I want you to know that your efforts were not in vain! There are mothers out there who are thankful… like me.
My daughter came rushing into this world 17 weeks early. I so desired to experience breastfeeding as a first time mom. Unfortunately, my body failed me in so many ways – not just by ending my pregnancy so early. The traumatic early birth combined with the stress of not knowing if my baby would survive made my body fail me and my baby a second time.
I never was able to pump more than 2 ml at a time, despite my best efforts. I would pump every two hours for two whole months, until the nurses advised me to let it go. During that time I tried hops, oatmeal, mother’s milk tea, fenugreek, and even prescriptions. I spoke to several lactation consultants. It was hard but I am so thankful that I had done my research and knew that there were so many benefits to breast milk.
The hospital I delivered at asked if, while I was waiting for my own milk supply to come in, I wanted to use donor milk. The first question I had was if it was screened for drugs and any other illnesses or bacteria. They said that it was, so without hesitation I said yes!
I truly believe that your milk combined with all the nurses’ and doctors’ care helped save my daughter. During our four month NICU stay it was hard to tell how many different donors’ milk we used. I pray that my gain did not come from your loss. I pray that it was just oversupply or that a newborn had a milk allergy and wasn’t able to use your milk. I wish I was able to find and thank any and all donors personally, but since there is no way to do so, I want to thank you here from the bottom of my heart.
I know that I am not alone in feeling this way. Should I, heaven forbid, ever find myself in a similar situation, I would do it again. I would not change a thing! So on behalf of all the mothers who use or haveused donor milk, THANK YOU. You have literally saved lives. I would like you to know that you helped my 1 lb. 4oz. baby turn into the thriving 22 lb. energetic three-year-old she is today.
And if you are considering using donor milk for your preemie, I encourage you to find out how it is screened and if it is right for you. Do not listen to any criticism you may hear. I was criticized for my choice. People thought it was “gross” or “unnatural.” All I can say is that my baby is here today, and what is right for one mother isn’t for another. We should embrace each other as mothers instead of putting each other down. There is always more than one solution to a challenge, so what if you take a different route?
We all want the same ending: healthy happy families. And donor milk is one way to get that.
Ginger Sweat, mom of a 23-weeker