The Breast Milk Donor (An Open Letter)

By: Gloria Miles

To the Women Who Donate Milk,

This first started as a blog post about my experience and then I became a little emotional, so I decided to write more of an open letter to you all. 

First of all, thank you. Thank you so much for taking extra time, perhaps money with all those extra milk bags, and effort just to help other babies get fed. Pumping is never really fun, as any mother who has had to pump (myself included) can attest to. 

My first breastfeeding experience was difficult. He was a slow gainer, he was a sleepy baby, and he was an all around difficult baby. My how the first newborn is always the hardest it seems! What an adjustment! It didn't help that I had no friends or family around and that at six weeks postpartum I went back to the Navy (I was active duty at the time). I cried every day for a month after returning to work. I found out that my body didn't like the pump. I struggled to get enough milk for him at daycare. At home, we breastfed fine, but I did have to give formula every now and again at daycare. Through many hardships, I breastfed for over 2 years!

My second was much easier. I was higher in rank, Navy policies changed, and I was experienced. I breastfed him for over a year, but it was cut short when I started getting ready for a deployment. 

Imagine my surprise when my third baby--a home birth and without needing to go back to work--came out with basically a really crappy latch. I had sore, chapped, cracked nipples that hurt so much! My milk took far too long to come in and my baby lost a good amount of weight. Then, she barely gained. And barely gained. And... you get the idea. 

I reached out to fellow mamas and three women came to my rescue. You've never met my baby, but your milk fattened her up. Your milk was the reason I didn't have to give any formula to my daughter as I pumped and fed and took supplements and pumped some more. 

I cried the first day I fed my daughter supplemental mama's milk, because I felt like I had failed her, like I had been starving her. She seemed so much happier and content with the extra milk. After a while, I knew I had to be kinder to myself. I was doing the best that I could and I knew that being postpartum wasn't helping my emotional response.

I do think that the supplemental milk not only gave my daughter much needed calories, but a peace of mind for me as well. I didn't have to worry if she was getting enough. I wasn't stressing about her eating. I could nurse her, feed her milk, pump, and repeat. Though it was time consuming, it was worth it, and it was working. As the days progressed, she needed less and less supplemental milk. 

So thank you again. And thank you on behalf of every mom who needs milk, whether just for a short while (like myself) or for their first year. It means so much to us. And it means so much to our babies. There's so much love in this community and it's shared! 

 

Did you donate breast milk? Use donor breast milk? Tell us your experience! Comment below and share the post. Let us know what you think!

Gloria Miles is a Navy veteran and mother of 4. She wears many hats as a doula, Certified Aromatherapist, and student. She is currently working towards obtaining a Bachelor's in Healthcare Management, with an end goal of becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife. When she is not blogging or hanging out with her family, she enjoys reading, knitting, hiking, and mud runs.