Boob Juice for Two - It's the Boobs that Bind Us
About a month back, I met another mom, Priscilla, in the mama meet up that I go to. She had just had her baby several days prior and was upset over the breastfeeding issues she was having. Physically, she hurt. Emotionally, she was worn down. That morning she had made the decision to supplement with formula and while we all know FED IS BEST, she was still understandably upset. Watching her get upset that morning, explaining how much it sucks when you can't feed your child the way you intended to, my heart broke. I had never had many issues with breastfeeding and in fact, I had more than enough to feed Silas, bags of frozen milk filling my freezer. I nervously spoke up; "I know we just met but...do you want some of my breastmilk?"
Priscilla accepted my offer and I was even able to nurse her daughter at the meet up, which is one of my favorite memories of being a mom! Feeding another baby while simultaneously being able to provide relief to the mother is an amazing feeling. Being a mother, you're automatically part of a community and when you're a part of a community, you give back. I didn't even have to think twice about offering up something that I was literally overflowing with! I was able to provide Priscilla with milk for her daughter for about a week and a half, giving her time to heal physically and also get her milk supply up. I'm happy to report that she's now an expert breastfeeder! She'll probably be modest and say she's still figuring it out but I've seen her whip out a boob and feed in a tiny diner booth - she's a pro.
Me, pulling double pumping booby duty and Priscilla not only graciously allowing me to write about her story but also providing me with the perfect title for the post!
Breastfeeding can be incredibly challenging. You have to think about what foods you eat, medications you take, keep your milk supply up, pumping, latching, clogged ducts. When it isn't working smoothly and your baby is suffering it's hard not to take it personally. It is a physically, mentally, and emotionally trying sacrifice and it's not uncommon for women to face struggles. There's ways to give AND find relief though. If your cup runneth over, there's two safe ways to donate breast milk. (PLEASE NOTE that you should only consider donating if you are a non-smoker, don't use drugs or excessively drink, have any chronic or contractible illnesses and have a relatively healthy diet!) One is milk sharing - talk to a midwife, find a birthing center, or just chat within your mommy groups and find a mom that needs a little extra boob juice. Your situation might be exactly what someone else needs. I'm now milk sharing with a mom that needs exclusively vegan milk - it was a perfect match! You can also head to this site to find milk banks in your area - stick to non-profit ones, which mostly go to hospitals and NICUs in need of breastmilk. While these banks do charge a processing fee from the buyers, it goes to the screening, pasteurization, and testing of the milk which is necessary since most goes to sick or premature babies whose systems are fragile. Some milk banks are for profit and they charge a lot for private buyers to purchase donated milk - I encourage you to avoid those because sharing is caring and companies like that give motherhood a bad name.
If you're a mother that is struggling and needs milk, speak up! Same goes for you - talk to your midwife, a birthing center, or in your mommy groups and see if there's someone that would be willing to share with you. The amount of courage it took Priscilla to not only come to the meet up that day but to also be honest about her struggle is empowering. That I just happened to be there was serendipitous. And the fact that Priscilla and I are now good friends who get together every week, text frequently, and can't wait for our kiddos to be old enough to play together, well, that was just wonderful, lovely luck.
Have you thought about donating your milk? If so, would you rather milk share or donate to a nonprofit?