It was a warm day. I loaded all three of our little daughters into the car, lugging the blue and white cooler in last. It was filled just prior, little hands helping me pack, loaded to the brim with icepacks and storage bags of frozen breastmilk.
It’s safe to say I had an overproduction situation on my hands with my third baby, definitely a non-issue with my first two.
When she was born premature and in the NICU, the nurses would have me pump prior to even being able to feed her, or she would nearly drown. That didn’t last long, thank goodness, but the need to continue pumping throughout her first many months in addition to her feeds did. As our freezer filled, and we started to run out of space, I realized I had not a clue what to do with this prized liquid. I couldn’t throw it out, but she didn’t need this much.
My first thought was to donate the milk to a local NICU because NICU babies can almost always use it. I did some research and found that I hadn’t done the bloodwork or any paperwork prior to pumping all of this, so it wasn’t usable for them. As I continued looking, I came across what seemed to be a craigslist of sorts for breastmilk. The Facebook page was called “Human Milk 4 Human Babies.”
Essentially, it was a space for a mom to post when she was either looking for breastmilk donations for her infant or when she had breastmilk to donate. From there, I located the page that was local to me, which at the time was in Northern Virginia. I added up a rough estimate of the hundreds of ounces and listed the date furthest back that I had pumped. Then, I made a post on the page with all the details and my city for pickup.
It didn’t take long.
A few moms reached out, but many babies had specific diet restrictions, like no dairy, and were not a good fit. One mom, however, was thrilled to hear that the milk hadn’t been spoken for and that I had followed a generally healthy diet. She asked to schedule a meet-up, even though she would be driving from a fair distance away, close to two hours. I picked the local Target parking lot and we met later that week.
She was so incredibly grateful and kind-hearted. She told me that she was in the process of adopting her baby, and the baby could not tolerate formula. My young daughters skipped over to say hello as we transferred the frozen milk from my cooler into hers. The baby cooed at them as we chatted. I wished her good luck. And she thanked us again. They left the parking lot with a cooler full of meals for her new daughter, and I left the parking lot with an insanely full heart.
If you are a mom who is interested in breastmilk donation and able, please consider reaching out to an organization like Mother’s Milk Bank. They get breastmilk into the hands of families whose babies need it at area hospitals. There’s a center in Columbus! Or, if you feel like that isn’t a good fit, you can always go the route I did and find your local Human Milk 4 Human Babies site.