Last week I posted the image below on Instagram. It was 78oz of expressed breastmilk that I was donating to the milk bank, after becoming a donor a couple of months ago. I was preparing the paperwork and thought it would be fun to share a quick snap. I got such a mix of reactions to the news that I donate my breastmilk to other babies.
“WHAT DO THEY DO WITH YOUR BREASTMILK?”
Some people thought that I was donating milk to medical research. While some donor milk does go to research, the majority of it goes to poorly and premature babies to help them grow stronger and get better quicker.
“I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WAS A ‘THING’”
Until my first son was about 6 months old, I didn’t know either! I thought you either breastfed your baby or formula fed your baby. It never occurred to me that you could feed your baby with milk donated by another mother. Before I had children, if someone had suggested the idea to me I would have though they were stark raving mad. Yet now, it seems stark raving mad that more people aren’t aware – I certainly wasn’t made aware when I was having trouble breastfeeding N.
“WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?”
I don’t really understand the question. I mean, why wouldn’t I?! There are many babies that would benefit from breastmilk but whose mothers, for whatever reason, might not be able to provide any. I have breastmilk and I can express more than my baby needs, so donating it seems the obvious thing to do.
“WHY DON’T THOSE BABIES JUST HAVE FORMULA?”
They could have formula, and many babies do. For premature babies and babies recovering from gut surgery, there are a few reasons why donor breastmilk is the preferred alternative.
According to the United Kingdom Association for Milk Banking:
“Protection from infection. When a mother is unable to provide any or enough of her own breastmilk, donor breastmilk is often the preferred alternative to infant formula (or artificial milk). This is because donor breastmilk still contains many of the protective factors (such as immunoglobulins) which help protect premature babies from infection and are not present in formula which is prepared from cow’s milk.”
“Protection from necrotising enterocolitis. Donor breastmilk may also have a protective role against the serious gut condition necrotising enterocolitis which mainly affects premature babies.”
“Easier to digest. A preterm baby’s gut is very immature and is able to digest and absorb breastmilk more easily than formula milk. Premature babies are fed small amounts of breastmilk to help their gut mature and the volumes fed are increased gradually. This is also true for babies who have had gut surgery.”
“WHAT A WONDERFUL THING TO DO”
Overwhelmingly, the majority of comments were simply positive and full of praise. Amazing! Wonderful! Beautiful! Lovely! Thoughtful! Kind! Those are the words I saw the most. And I agree with each and every one of them.
Did you know you can keep up to date with me on Facebook?