Why I Give My Breastmilk To Other Babies

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.


“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.

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20 comments

  1. My daughter turned one year in February, and my goal was to breastfeed for at least a year. At 16 months, we are still going strong, and we donated 375oz to the National Milk Bank at the same time! I haven't donated since, as I am not pumping much these days, but certainly would again, given the opportunity! Good for you!

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    1. Thank you so much! That is fantastic that you are still breastfeeding your daughter and that you donated such an amazing amount too! x

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  2. I think it is absolutely amazing and until a friend of mine did it I wasn't even aware it happened nor never thought about it. I do think it is brilliant and yay you for being able to do it x

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    1. Thank you Rachel! It's funny how it just never occurred to me until someone else told me! x

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  3. I've donated milk to local mums who are struggling with supply. As an exclusive pumper with oversupply, I used Human Milk For Human Babies (HMFHB) and donated around 500oz. It's great to share a wonderful gift.

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    1. That is fantastic Joanne! So lovely of you x

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  4. Absolutely amazing! I struggled with my milk supply and had to top up with formula eventually (which made me seriously depressed), so I promised myself that if I have a great supply this time, I will start donating.

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    1. Oh I'm so sorry to hear you struggled :( I hope that you get on better this time round. Breastfeeding has been much more straightforward with my second x

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  5. I have been thinking about doing this for a while and your post has inspired me to look into it some more! Super amazing what you are doing for those babies in need! x

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    1. Oh yes do! Check out the UKAMB website to find your nearest milk bank x

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  6. I also donated, I donated locally and not so locally to other mums via Humanmilk4Humanbabies. :)
    Great and wonderful thing you are doing!

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  7. Just perfect! Well done you. For me I wasn't a good pumper and wouldn't get as much pumping as i did breastfeeding so for you to get 78oz it's absolutely mind blowing to me. I know you must have got it over a period of time but still. Overwhelmingly kind. X

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    1. Thank you Tanita. Yes it was over a period of time :) x

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  8. I am definitely one of the people who thought this was amazing, I struggled with breastfeeding with my little one but I remember how long it used to take me to pump 4 oz! So many babies will benefit from your help :) Xx

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    1. I wasn't as good at pumping first time round but I stressed over it which didn't help. This time I just try to relaaaaaax :) Thank you for your lovely comment x

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  9. This is such a fantastic thing to do. Look at all that wonderful milk going to all those babies that will benefit from it so much. I don’t understand why people see it as such a negative thing! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment x

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  10. What a great idea, I was looking in to this, but unfortunately I left it too late and Boo was over 6 months old. I also feel sad that I was told by a HV that all of the colostrum I expressed before Boo was born (It was advised to do this as I had had operations to remove lump in my breasts and the scar tissue meant I may have had trouble bfing) was useless and should be thrown away!!

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    1. Oh bless you what a shame. I expressed antenatally this time too, not for the milk bank though, just in case I had any of the same issues I had first time round x

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