Ava is learning early about the virtue of sharing with others, even though she doesn't know it yet. She's going to share her milk. Ava is getting plenty because she's growing very well. But, I'm producing so much extra milk that's stacking the in the freezer, beyond what she'll ever eat. It started freezer so much when I went back to work and especially now that I'm gone now 3 days in the office. I pump about 2x more than what she takes in when we're apart for 10 hours. Thankfully, I work from home two days a week so we can be more in sync being apart for about 4 1/2 hours because we're only missing about 1-2 feedings in that time apart.
You're probably wondering why I don't just pump less. The reason is what breastfeeding moms know that if you drop a pumping session, that's signaling the body to produce less milk, which jeopardizes my ability to continue our nursing relationship long-term. My supply will dwindle. Ava nurses a couple times in the morning and another 4-6 times at night when I'm at the office all day. We get lots of nursing time, which helps us reconnect when we're together.
Back to sharing Ava's milk. I've heard about donating milk from friends in the past, but we're lucky to have the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank a few minutes from our house. I say lucky because even though it has Indiana in the title, it's actually a regional milk bank that serves the Midwest. Mother's Milk Banks collect human milk from donor moms, where it's combined to normalize the calorie content, pasteurized, and then frozen for distribution. Hospitals and moms can receive this milk to provide for sick or premature infants who need nutrition when their mothers cannot provide firsthand. I know a woman in Le Leche League that requested that her baby get Mother's Milk at birth instead of supplementing with formula. After birth, moms get their mature milk anywhere from 2-5 days. Babies are born with the stomach the size of a marble so healthy, full-term babies do just fine with the small amount of first milk, colostrum. This rich, creamy milk provides all the nutrition, antibodies, and acts as a stool softener in the first few days. Ava and I were lucky because even though she lost just over 10% of her birth weight, my mature milk came in after 2 days and she was regaining her birth weight very well.
The demand for human milk is far greater than the supply. Check out this great article from Newsweek about human milk banks. Milk Banks are a safer way of sourcing human milk because the donor moms are screened by a blood sample, health history, and their physicians and baby's pediatricians acknowledge the donation. While you may question the pasteurization process killing the living cells and antibodies, any human milk is exceedingly better than the alternative, formula. Why? Formula is made from cow's milk designed to grow baby cows, NOT humans! Human milk is perfectly designed to provide antibodies which babies cannot produce until 18 months. Le Leche League, a global mom-to-mom breastfeeding organization recommends milk banks as a safer source for donated milk, rather than using a direct person-to-person model.
If you're a mom that has milk to share that is nursing a baby who is younger than 12-months, join me in donating this invaluable, precious resource for sick or premature infants. To learn more about becoming a donor mom, check out the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank screening information. Follow them on Twitter @milkbankguy.
I'm taking my blood test this Friday and sent in my medical paperwork. I'm hoping by next week, I can drop off my first donation!