One of the things I did after having E was to become a breast milk donor. I’d read about human milk shortages in my area between D’s weaning and having E, and knew that after E was born I would try and help if I could – especially as D received donor milk himself after being born.
Compared to the poor start with D, I was fairly confident breastfeeding E and as soon as we returned home after having her, I registered with my local milk bank to start donating. I think E was about 6 weeks old when I first started to donate – I had to wait a bit for an electric pump to become available, but I started off with my own manual pump and managed to give a few donations that way. It wasn’t difficult – just pump as much as possible, put it in a bottle provided to me by the milk bank, log the date and time, and freeze it until collection. Easy!
I did underestimate how much I’d be able to give however. It wasn’t that I wasn’t able to (though yes, me and the electric pump didn’t immediately see eye-to-eye…), but rather that I didn’t have the time to do as much as I wanted. I had 2 children under 2 and I found it difficult to find the 15 or so minutes I needed to sit down and sterilise all the equipment then to actually use the pump each day. I did manage to do 1 or 2 donations a week though, which I was happy enough with.
I stopped when E reached 7 months and I moved out of the area. I was sad to do this, but I was on my own with the 2 children and a house to pack up, and I’d had no time to donate anything in the past few weeks anyway, so it was time to wrap it up :(
I’m still very proud of having done it at all though, and hope I’ve helped a few babies off to a better start in life. My chosen milk bank provided milk to premature babies at one of 2 hospitals, including the one D was born in :) If you’ve got a bit of spare time and are confident with a pump, why not give it a try? Contact your local maternity unit and ask where you might be able to donate; they should direct you to a milk bank near you if they don’t have one themselves.