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I always thought to donate breastmilk you have to have a super over-supply or be pumping around the clock. I thought "Wow, god bless the women who put in the extra energy to do that in their most exhausting time of life but nope, that is not for me." My thinking was WRONG. Here's what I've learned with baby #2 and The Mother's Milk Bank.
How it went down:
I had a totally normal supply of breastmilk for baby #2. My milk came in faster and stronger for sure (as is typical with the second babe) but it wasn't anything crazy. I started pumping at day 5 just to alleviate myself. The 2 weeks following, I pumped 2-3 times a day and sometimes only one boob or only to half empty because I didn't like the feeling of being engorged. BUT I also didn't want to pump TOO much because I didn't want my body to produce more milk (the more you pump/breastfeed, the more your body makes especially in those early weeks until your boobs regulate to your baby's needs and chill out.) My body regulated at around week 3 and my milk supply started to line up more with the routine of my baby plus a little extra because of the pumping.
What I did:
I liked that little extra because it allowed me to start storing a rainy day supply in my freezer. By rainy day, I mean if I got sick and my milk supply dropped, we'd have a stash to tap into. OR if I want to leave the baby for a day (or even a night?! Yolo?), I would have plenty of milk to leave with grandma. Mark my word, mamas, stored freezer milk IS FREEDOM!
Here's the thing, my baby doesn't eat half of the milk I produce so I really do have a lot of extra building up. Some of the milk just stays in my boobs until the next feeding (telling my body to not make more), and some of the milk gets pumped and goes into the freezer. The main idea is that I took the supply that came in those early weeks and relatively maintained it. Expended no effort to increase it and actually decreased it to the amount my baby takes + about 4 ounces extra for storage.
So now I'm 9 weeks in and I put away one extra bag of milk a day, I all of a sudden have 75 pouches of stored milk in my freezer! That's roughly 300 ounces of liquid gold!!!! I feel proud, I feel grateful, and I feel surprised at how that happened with little-to-no thought or effort. Just one pump a day when I wake up after feeding. One package a day. Literally, not a big ordeal for me AT ALL.
How I became a milk donor:
I have more milk than we will ever use so I contacted Mother's Milk Bank and got screened to see if I qualify to donate. It was a 15 minute interview, a survey, and a quick blood test at my doc's office. The requirement is to donate a minimum of 150 ounces which is pretty much exactly what I'm willing to give up while reserving that "rainy day stash" that I want to have.
What I've learned:
If you have a typical supply of milk in those first few weeks, you can pretty easily put away an extra pouch or two a day. Keep doing that and voila, you will have enough to donate in a couple months. Your milk will be used to help save babies who are fighting for their lives in the NICU and the mommies who are struggling along with them.
I feel SO SO SO happy that my baby and I can contribute to helping less fortunate babies thrive and I really am shocked at how easy this was. SO I'm sharing it with you to demystify the process and break the perception that donating breastmilk is burdensome and requires a mega oversupply of milk because it doesn't. IF you feel inspired, are pregnant and interested, or have an overflowing freezer stash, I highly recommend contacting the Mother's Milk Bank to learn more.
With love from my heart and boobs,
Emily Jabbawy, founder of Little Beats
@emjabb on insta
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