Can I donate Breast Milk? I was always 100% sure I wanted to breast feed my baby, but wow it’s hard. My nipples went black and so painful and I kept getting mastitis. However I struggled through and it paid off. We are now 16 months in and it’s so easy. At the start I had so much milk I needed to pump some of it off I didn’t mind as I thought when I go back to work she can drink the milk I’m freezing. So I got special sterilised bags and I dated them as I filled them.
When I got to the 8 month mark it was time to go back to work and do you think my little monkey would drink milk from a bottle, Nope. So I had all this milk in my freezer going to waste so I took to the internet. I asked in my support group if there was anything I could do with the milk as I had already checked with the local hospitals and they didn’t need any of the milk as their banks were full.
Then someone told me about a Facebook page Human milk donation (link at the end of this article) you can donate breast milk to strangers and people who are in desperate need of the milk. Most mothers know breast milk gives babies the best start in life, but there are so many mothers out there that struggle to feed babies for lots of reasons that it would take me forever to list. However some of these mothers still want their babies to have breast milk so they take to the internet and find some. I would also like to add there is nothing wrong with formula feeding either as long as baby is fed that’s the main thing.
Some people out there will disagree with this and some will think it’s a fab idea, in all honesty I’m somewhere in the middle. I think it’s an amazing idea but it is also unmanaged so there are dangers and you do have to put a lot of trust in the person you’re accepting milk from. While I am happy to donate my milk, I don’t think I would be able to accept someone else’s milk to feed my own baby. I have massive respect for those that do, from what I have seen there have not been any issues with milk donation at all.
It seems that midwifes and health visitors don’t seem to give out any information about milk donation or know to much about it. Whether that’s due to the fact they are not allowed or not I don’t know but I do feel mothers should be made aware the option is there.
How it all works: You do your research; find the best site for you. Read the rules and make sure you are very honest about medication you are taking and your general health. The baby your donating milk to could have an allergy. You can put a photo up of your amazing baby with you milk stash if you wish to. You also need to record how much milk you have, how many bags and Oz and the dates and how old your baby is. The milk is best to go to a baby of the same age your baby was when the milk was expressed and most people prefer the milk to be from a baby younger than 6 months. The milk must be stored in correct bags or bottles which have been sterilised and designed to store breast milk.
Results from my research: I asked a small group of people a few questions about milk donation
Only 1 person out of the 31 said they wouldn’t like to donate, 6 people already donate the other 24 said they needed more info or they would do it but they didn’t know they could until they read this.
It seems most people would accept donated milk, some if it was donated by the hospital but 16 would have it off strangers.
The best news I got was that almost everyone knew how to store breast milk safely
The biggest reason for women not donating milk was that they didn’t know they could and they needed more information.
The 2nd was the pumping issue having trouble pumping or not having enough milk to feed own baby and pump for another. Health visitors and even midwifes should have more information on this and I believe it would be good to give out a leaflet on the subject during one of the mothers visits to the midwife before she has had the baby, this gives the mother time to do her own research if she wishes to.
My analysis: It seems that mothers really do want to help others and would donate breast milk but they need a lot more information on the subject and it needs to be out there more so it can be normalised. Some people still frown on the subject when its normal after all back in the day people used to have wet nurses. This is even more uncommon but there are some people out there that still do that job. Hopefully this article will get through to even just a few people and make a difference to some mothers and babies out there. Remember safety first. If you don’t want people to collect the milk from your home make sure you arrange a date and time and store your milk correctly. I did have the ladies come to my house to collect the milk from me as I could just take it out the freezer and put in their freezer bags but it’s up to you. You might even want to deliver it yourself.
Remember you’re doing an amazing thing if you choose to help others in this way, but if it’s not for you then that’s fine too. I have loved the fact I’ve been able to donate my milk and I’m very proud to of done it. If I did choose to have more children I would do it all over again. I’m back to work and still managing to feed my little one now we are 16 months in, she is a very good eater and loves marmite on toast the most. Because I do not produce that much milk any more I can no longer express milk which makes me sad to think I can’t donate breast milk any more but happy I have done it.
Related link: https://www.facebook.com/HM4HBUK/
Read more lifestyle features.