I recently discovered Milkin’ Mamas, an organization that takes donor milk and uses it to create formulas for infants in the NICU. Since breastfed babies tend to pack on weight faster in the first few months, this can up the odds that premature newborns might get the chance to head home sooner.
I made the decision to donate for one big reason:
In addition to a bunch of frozen vegetables and 2 tiny frozen jars of bananas, my freezer is overloaded with milk. You’re probably looking at anywhere from 200 – 250 stored ounces dating back to mid-March. That’s not even acknowledging the 15 – 25 ounces I keep in my fridge — for when I’m gone, to make baby food, yadda, yadda, yadda.
But back to being a milk donor: what does it entail?
I had to fill out a 50-question survey chronicling all sorts of things — questions about sexual history, health history (“Do you have herpes?”), medications I’m taking, my OB’s contact information, my son’s pediatrician’s contact information and his birthdate. Moms whose babies were stillborn, who were surrogates, etc., do not have to provide any pediatrician information.
I was sent some follow-up questions. Since my son was born by cesarean, they wanted to know about any medications I received at the time. 6 months out from delivery, it was really difficult to remember. But, put simply: you pretty much can’t be on much in the way of medications to donate. Prenatal vitamins are fine. But while certain drugs (i.e., antidepressants) might be OK for milk for your baby, the milk isn’t ideal for NICU babies.
After that, I received two forms that I had to sign (just my signature!). I sent these back to Milkin’ Mamas so they could contact my OB and Nathan’s pediatrician. My OB was on it quickly — within a few days — but I’m still waiting to hear back from the pediatrician.
Milkin’ Mamas sent a package in the meantime. I received a thermometer (to check my freezer’s temperature). I also received a cheek swab to check DNA and 3 tubes for a blood draw. A phlebotomist will be coming to my house to draw it and will then send it off. And I also got an awesome marker to label milk storage bags. It’s the only one I’ve found that doesn’t smudge or disappear.
After that, Milkin’ Mamas pays to send a cooler to my house when it’s donation time. They also pay the return shipping for the milk. It’s cost-free for the donor. The other thing I like…they actually send milk storage bags when you run out.
Not all people are able to breastfeed. Not all are able to produce enough milk to feed their babies, let alone to help out other babies. I’m really glad that all of that pumping will pay off.