When I had my second child in September 2020 I couldn’t believe it when he refused milk from one of my breasts. His older sister, who had also been breastfed, had done the exact same thing. I call it my ‘funny boob’ as both my children didn’t take to it. But whereas my daughter took my expressed milk from a bottle, my son refused a bottle and I was left throwing pints of breast milk away…until a family friend enlightened me about breast milk donations.
An inverted nipple and a bad latch
I’ve been fortunate to have two healthy babies and to breastfeed them both, but it hasn’t been without its problems. Ever since they were born both my children refused to feed from my left breast – the ‘funny boob’.
I was told by a health visitor that the bad latch was because I have an inverted nipple. It’s actually not at all the case because both my babies did latch on the left side but it is a very different sensation when they tried to feed and I experienced a lot of pain deep in the breast tissue. I also found they couldn’t stay latched for very long ending up with a hungry and frustrated baby and very emotionally stressed mummy!
However, expressing doesn’t seem to have the same effect. I don’t have any pain when I express and, if anything, it just takes a little longer for the letdown reflex to kick in. So, my point here is, please don’t think that a batch latch or an inverted nipple (if you have one) spells the end of your breastfeeding days.
I was told by a health visitor that the bad latch was because I have an inverted nipple.
Whilst my eldest child would happily take a bottle of expressed milk, my son Elliot refused to. That meant all the expressing of milk was going to waste. I was throwing pints and pints of breast milk away and I found this whole process rather soul-destroying. Breast milk is basically liquid gold! I really struggled with the notion that my body was working hard to make milk but it wasn’t being used.
Being made aware of breast milk donations
Fortunately a short time later a family friend, who also happens to be a doula, explained how she had a similar experience to me many years ago and that she donated her milk to the local hospital. She told me how the donated breast milk was given to premature or poorly babies in NICU.
I knew immediately this was something I wanted to be involved with. I jumped at the chance to donate for such a wonderful cause but how was I going to get started?
Getting registered as a breast milk donor
I didn’t really know where to start with donating and who to approach so I found myself googling all sorts of websites and forums in relation to breast milk donation. Doing this I felt like I really educated myself on not only milk donation but also all manner of breast milk-related literature and research. I emailed a few milk donation banks and they were very informative of the process and how to get started.
In the end I got in touch with my closest milk bank through using The UK Association of Milk Banks. The milk bank sent me out the paperwork and I had to arrange a blood test at my GP practice to ensure I was healthy to donate. Then, once the results came back all clear of any potentially harmful diseases/virus’ I began to express the milk into bottles provided by the milk bank. You must ensure all bottles and cleaning equipment including your breasts are sanitised before collecting.
I began to express the milk into bottles provided by the milk bank.
All milk will be checked at the milk bank regardless but it’s essential to ensure it’s not contaminated in anyway prior. You don’t want to go through the process for it to be discarded. The bottles need to be clearly labelled and I need to keep a log of the freezer temperature daily. Once I have the minimum bottle requirement I then contact the local SERVE driver who comes and collects the milk and transports it back to the milk bank. I then receive an email from the admin team to let me know if it has passed all of the tests and when it is ready to be used. I love receiving those emails!
Why do I donate?
I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had two straightforward pregnancies that led to full term and healthy babies following birth. However, sadly not all babies have this start in life. As a mother I cannot imagine the heartache, worry and anguish new parents must go through when something goes wrong. And I know some mothers are desperate to feed their babies themselves and aren’t able to do so. If I can help in a small way by donating what my baby doesn’t need then I hope it helps to alleviate some of the pressures new parents experience with so many other worries that they have.
If I can help in a small way by donating what my baby doesn’t need then I hope it helps to alleviate some of the pressures new parents experience with so many other worries that they have.
I love the fact that Elliot has all that he needs from me and he’s well-nourished and thriving and also that I’m able to feed other babies in need too. I’m incredibly proud that I have helped babies even in a small way by filling up their little tummies.
My breastfeeding journey has been a very unique one but I enjoy every minute of the time I have bonding with my baby. Love to all mothers out there on their own breastfeeding journeys.
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