I’ve been wanting to blog about this for a long time because it is so close to my heart. I hope this post can be helpful to moms out there who want to donate, but just don’t know where to start.
My son was born with hydrocephalus via emergency c-section. Consequently he ended up spending his first week of life in the Utah Valley Regional NICU. During surgery I lost about 2 liters of blood. This in combination with the incredibly stressful situation my husband, my baby, and I found ourselves in had a devastating effect on my milk supply.
I want to make it abundantly clear that I believe formula is a wonderful gift that modern technology has given us, but you need to know where I am coming from. I had my heart firmly set on breastfeeding and had been so adamant about it even prior to becoming pregnant. So when I found myself unexpectedly caring for a sick baby and unable to breastfeed, I was heartbroken. My son already had the cards stacked against him and his development, and I wanted so badly to do everything I could to give him his best chance.
During this time the amazing staff at the NICU did everything they could to support me in getting my supply up, but in the meantime my baby needed to eat. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to know that my baby could get donated milk while he was in the NICU. I made a promise to myself then and there that if I ever did manage to breastfeed successfully, I would donate anything I could.
Fast Forward Six Months….
..and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears (literally), I had a freezer full of my own breast milk that my baby never used. It was time for me to keep my promise.
How It Works
This info can be important so you understand the process. To be used in a NICU donated breastmilk first has to be processed by a milk bank, just like a blood donation would. You will most likely drop off your milk to a NICU or drop off site that will then ship it to the milk bank. They will process it there, and then distribute it to NICU’s in their network.
How I Got Started
First I found a milk bank. I wanted to use the same one that supplied the NICU where my son stayed (because I’m sentimental like that). If you decide to google this please do so with caution, there are a lot of scams out there. You should not have to pay to donate your milk. If you want to be sure the best way is the call the NICU and ask who to get in touch with to start the donation process. I donated with Mother’s Milk Bank, a part of the Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation.
The Screening Process
- I went through a pre screening, then a secondary screening over the phone to see if I was eligible. If you aren’t sure if you will qualify, just call and take the prescreening. It will take you about 20 minutes, and you won’t know until you do. Contact the Mother’s Milk Bank at 303.869.1888 or visit their website to start this process.
- Once I cleared the prescreening, I was given two forms to be completed by:
- my primary care physician stating I was in good health and,
- my son’s pediatrician stating that he was in good health.
- After I sent these back, I was contacted again my Mother’s Milk Bank who let me know I would be receiving a blood draw kit in the mail, and what hospital/NICU near me I could go to have this done (free of charge) as MMB works with many NICU’s.
Blood Draw & Drop Off
I have two NICU’s close to my house that work with MMB, I chose to go to Timpanogos Regional. I called ahead to let them know I had been cleared by MMB, and had my blood draw kit. I went in the next day and did the blood draw and drop off at the same time.
One thing that will prevent you from donating to this bank is if you were taking Mother’s Milk Tea or other herbal supplements at the time the milk was pumped. I used Mother’s Milk More Milk Plus (which I LOVED) early on to help build my supply, but was still able to donate the milk that was pumped after I stopped using them.
If you are considering donating, or just need to clear some space in your freezer, I hope that you will take that next step. As someone who was once on the receiving end of such a gift, I can personally tell you that you are appreciated beyond measure.
Thank you for reading lovelies,