Can I Borrow Some Milk?

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By Sara

We agreed to meet in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot around the corner from my mom's house. I was coming home from work, so there were two empty car seats in the back seat. "I'm driving a black SUV" the text read. About 5 minutes later, she pulled in next to me. She opened the trunk and handed over two over-flowing grocery bags. Full of breast milk.

You know when someone finds a treasure chest of booty (ha! my kids would be laughing so hard right now) and there faces are lit by the glow of gold, diamonds, rubies. The angels sing and their mouths hang open and their eyes go wide. Yup, that was me. Except, instead of booty it was booby milk. I was utterly astonished by the amount of breast milk this other momma was giving me.

Because when I pumped, I was lucky to get 1.5 oz. Every day I pumped, and every day I got 1.5 oz. My boobs were on strike. Even when I made up lyrics to the rhythm of my pump, nothing...well a few dozen drops, then nothing.

After my breastfeeding journey with #1 was cut short at 4 months due to a medical condition,  I knew, with my son (#2), that I wanted to breastfeed as long as possible. He was a great nurser. Even after he was born via cesarean, he latched on right away and we had a beautiful breastfeeding relationship. But no matter what I tried, whenever I pumped...1.5 oz.

So, with the help of a dear friend (who I nicknamed my booby guru) I decided to start supplementing with donor milk instead of formula.

Here's what you need to know:

I joined two informal milk-sharing facebook groups: Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies. They are super easy to use. And I loved that I could write a post during an early morning feeding and get nearly instant responses from local moms.

Benefits of using donor breast milk:
It's breastmilk!  Here's 101 reasons to love breastmilk.

Risks of using donor breast milk:
(for the record, I never experienced any of these. I choose to believe that the world, and the people in it, are good. If a momma is willing to donate her breast milk to another momma, I don't think she would do anything to jeapordize another baby's health)

  • A number of pathogens enter into human milk if the mother is infected; however, few diseases can be transmitted through human milk, itself. The main diseases that cause concern are HTLV, HIV, and CMV.
  • Possible sabotage by donor (really, I don't think this is a real risk, but there's this story)
  • Human milk that is carelessly collected or stored may be "contaminated by any number of potentially harmful microorganisms".

Using donor milk is not for everyone, I get that. But it's a really great option. And it's an option that many people don't know about. Our pediatrician never even mentioned milk-sharing as an alternative. I just got the typical supplement-with-formula spiel. As I look back on that time, my heart overflows with gratitude to the women who helped me feed my son. I was able to nurse him for over a year and pumping even got better. Without the stress of having to produce, I was actually able to get full bottles by the end of the day (win!)

So, I'd love to know! Would you ever give donor milk to your baby??

If you're interested in using donor milk, I like Eats on Feets' Four Pillars of Safe Breastmilk Sharing and Kelly Mom also has a great resource list. You'll make the decision that's best for you and your family.

Just be prepared to explain to your sister why the breast milk storage bag is labelled "Owen", when your son's name is Bobby ;)