So I haven’t really been able to take the time out to write about my experience as a milk donor – so I figured now would be a good time; that’s if Jonah stops babbling and goes to bed! After I had Jonah of course I was so confused about everything to do “baby-wise”. The nurses tell you one thing, the midwives tell you other stuff, books inform you of what’s right/wrong and then of course you go on baby cues. To be honest – I took the latter. I figured if my baby was hungry – he would tell me. The “every 2 hours” and “15 minutes on each boob” didn’t work for me. Well, I take that back. I guess the 2 hours thing was semi-accurate. But to me it was like between 1-2 hours. I just went on his cues. I let him sleep, but if I noticed he was sleep A LOT, I woke him up to feed. Again, with this I got the “don’t ever wake a sleeping baby” comment – but shoot, if my baby hasn’t eaten in like 8 hours, I’m sure it’s okay to feed him 😉
So after coming home from the hospital I had to adapt to all things baby – while sleep-deprived of course. This was especially difficult. Obviously I had never had a baby, and of course I knew my “life was going to change”, but seriously ..this was cray cray! After a few days my milk also came in full force. So much so that I had to have Brian run out and get me a Medela Hand Pump because I was so engorged on one side (my right). That proved to be the best $50 spent; since it allowed release and I was able to not feel like Dolly Parton 🙂
To bring it back a little bit, when I was in the hospital, Jonah had a really good latch. I wasn’t familiar with what was good or bad – although when it’s pinching you know that’s not good Even the lactation consultant was like “wow” ..but the only problem I had was with my right boob. Unfortunately I was born with an inverted nipple. Yes, it’s weird. Brian always made fun of me for having such a weird nipple – I know, horrible husband 😉 – Nooo, he wasn’t that mean but yea he threw jokes around about it. So this was especially challenging when starting to breastfeed Jonah. Before I had him I read about using breast shells. So I started to do that close to when he was born to help to stretch out the skin to help the inverted nipple to open up and become more “normal”. It didn’t really seem to work. I tried it – it just didn’t do much. So after he was born I tried the nipple shield. He seemed to be okay with it – he just didn’t care for putting all of that plastic in his mouth. I’m pretty sure I gagged him a couple times. It did seem to work okay. In any case, it got to the point that he wasn’t really taking that nipple as well, so that’s probably the cause of the engorgement. This was probably the cause of borderline mastitis; which I had a week or so after his birth. Praise God I have been able to ward it off a couple more times after that but MAN, I make some milk. Oh also – my nipple is “normal” now just FYI. Thanks Jonah Poo!
When things were starting to “normalize” milk-wise, I noticed that I made A LOT! I made so much that Jonah would have (at mostly ever occasion he was fed) milk squirt in his face. My milk would squirt far. It was hilarious. But it was crazy! To help with the overactive letdown I would pump before I fed Jonah. Let me just tell you – I now know why women stop breastfeeding. It is a LOT of work! You have to stay committed and know that you’re going to have some craziness! I know I did. I mean in addition to the overactive letdown I had a baby that wanted to feed very often (going through growth spurts) and one that would get “frustrated” at the overactive letdown. Because I pumped – I didn’t realize this at the time, but I was then making MORE milk. So much that I was filling my freezer and deep freezer! I would mention this to people and they were like “don’t get rid of all of your milk, you will need it” or “I dried up at 3 months so be careful” sort of comments. Ladies, I wasn’t worried. I had A LOT! So then came my research!
I started looking into donating to milk banks and came across a couple. One was a milk bank in NC I believe and the other one was in Austin Texas called Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin. When the first one contacted me back about a question I had (about the prenatals I was taking) I was informed that I couldn’t give them my milk. I was taking (and currently taking) a prenatal that had some herbs in it. It’s a good one, but apparently it was too “risky” for something like that. Luckily, MMB didn’t mind. I was so excited, but here was the problem – I had already done MORE research into Blessing other Mamas with my milk. At the time I had like over 400 ounces of milk. Actually, I have NO idea how much ..all I know is that it was a lot. And I got discouraged with MMB because I had told them that I “promised” other moms my milk – so I was going to pump exclusively for the milk bank. They HIGHLY discouraged the act of public milk sharing – and made it apparent in their email to me. That got me annoyed. But I got over it. I saw where they were coming from, but then again they gave milk to preemies so that HAD to be rid of any bacteria. So all in all, I totally understand. I just did my own thing 🙂
In any case I went through the whole screening process and started pumping for the milk bank. All in all I shipped over 200 ounces to them and felt so awesome doing so – since I was helping mamas with preemies! It was great! I really felt that God had Blessed me with an over-supply so I felt like I needed to fulfill my end of the deal – Bless other mamas. In addition to the milk bank I was already donating milk to local moms through a website called Human Milk 4 Human Babies via FB. There I posted an ad about my milk and got TONS of response. They have different divisions of this site on FB (and of course I joined the Georgia division). Since that first post I have donated consistently to one mom that had adopted her son back in June; as well as to other moms that weren’t either producing enough, only producing on one side or had dried up completely! Most-recently I donated to a mom that had her child in the NICU because of some seizures/brain hemorrhaging. He is doing great by the way, but she is having a hard time producing because of stress and I believe in-part to having a c-section.
People think it’s weird, while others are cool with it. I think it’s a way that God has allowed me to Bless others. And I’m cool with that. I’ve been tested, but even before I was “tested” I was giving my milk away. Shoot – I was pretty-certain that I didn’t have diseases ..and that’s the one thing that really discourages people from getting milk from donors. If you think about it – it’s a donation. I think when you take out the financial part of it – it’s a pretty safe thing. I’m not selling my milk. I’m giving it away 🙂
In any case, I just wanted to post a little about being a “milk machine”. Now my milk has gone to a more “normal” level for Jonah, and I am noticing that I am not really producing as much as I was. I have started to pump mid-day when I can, but I’m cool with that as well. I have been saving/freezing my milk still, but now it’s primarily for Jonah. He comes first 🙂 I have done my part in helping other moms and if I make more, that’s cool. If I don’t, that’s also cool. It is kind of nice not waking up at 6AM every morning feeling like Dolly Parton. Like seriously.
Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin: http://www.milkbank.org/
Human Milk 4 Human Babies: http://hm4hb.net/
Kelly Mom: http://kellymom.com/ – this is a GREAT resource for any breastfeeding questions you may have!