For moms that pump milk, sometimes you may have more milk than your baby needs. Some moms decide that this excess use of milk is best donated, and if you have some to spare, it’s something to consider, though certainly not a must just because you have extra milk. There are other things you can consider as well such as milk shares with other mom’s or storing milk for your baby down the road. Remember that frozen breast milk can be stored in the back of the freezer for as long as six months, as that is the longest way to keep breastmilk.
However, donating to a milk bank is the most commonly recommended way to share milk and it can be pretty fun too! I used to volunteer at a milk bank cataloguing milk that came in as a donation and everything felt very organized and streamlined to me. That sort of organization energy can be very motivating and grounding to a busy mom who is trying to keep her baby fed and well nurtured. Plus donations go to a great cause- helping premature babies live. Studies show that breastmilk can increase a baby’s rate of survival greatly which is a miracle if you think about it. Still that doesn’t obligate any mom to donate by any means. Instead, what I would encourage you to do is see how milk donation can fit into your life and enhance your breastfeeding experience. This has the greatest potential for a win-win situation for all parties, and besides in your new role as a mom, your new baby still comes first.
One of the first things you will have to do when becoming a donor is get screened this includes a blood test to make sure that your milk is safe to give to other baby’s. They will also most likely interview you about any health concerns and any medications you are on.
It’s important to be honest and forthcoming with the milk bank. Keep in mind, during this process, that your milk is specially formulated for your biological baby. This can sometimes be the stressful part of the milk share for some moms. For example, some mom’s ask “how will this donation benefit other babies if it’s meant for my child?” others ask “will this donation change the composition of my milk and ultimately affect my child?” These questions are hard to answer, but worth considering.
However, you will see that when it comes down to it, the process of sharing and equalizing milk may actually contribute to better milk supply, among those premature babies’ moms as well as having a grounding and motivating effect for you. How? By raising the group energy of everyone working together and contributing to the fair allocation of milk through standard practice. Sometimes generosity through a private milk share can come back to serve one less than one thought. Although done with a good intention, it may eventually end up just being an easy way out for the mom that discourages her from working on maintaining her milk supply. Although we may have a good heart when sharing and even ask the mom why she needs it or what her intentions are, it’s good to remember she and even you could need some professional advice over kindness and a good share.
So let’s keep our kindness, group energy and good efforts going towards the bank. Allow the structure to serve you and your baby too, after all, you are the one making the effort. Remember your role as a mom is loving your baby as number one. Keep milk clean, and last but not least… allow your baby the glory of generous heart too.