I’ve been interested in donating breast milk ever since I found out it is a thing that you can do.
Yesterday I found out that I can do it right here in Brisbane!
A post came up in one of the Facebook mums groups that I am a part of, saying that the milk bank supplies are low, and they are in need of more donors.
I am able to express milk every day on top of what my own baby needs. Most days I either don’t bother, or I express and freeze it for future use. Occasionally I’ll express for use that day or the next, when I’m going to be away from bubba for a little while. I have more than enough milk for my baby (as evidenced by his continual growth and my excess supply resulting in some sometimes painful engorgement). So why not donate the excess to those in need!
The process seems pretty simple. I will need to go through some screening processes to make sure my lifestyle is appropriate (non-smoker, don’t drink alcohol often, etc). The only part that I might have to adjust in my lifestyle is the caffeine part – I’m allowed no more than 3 caffeinated drinks per day, including tea and soft drinks. While I don’t drink coffee, there are days occasionally where I would have more than 3 teas/soft drinks. I’ll just have to keep a careful eye on that in future!
I then have to go through some blood tests, to make sure there is no problem with viruses or other diseases that could affect my breast milk. This makes complete sense because anything that is in your blood can pass through easily into your milk – hence why breastfeeding while drinking alcohol is a no-no.
Assuming I pass all of that, I then get a kit for storing the expressed milk. I already have my own manual pump (they don’t supply that part for you anyway), but they give you the bottles to freeze it in, as well as proper labels for naming the bottles and also for sealing it to ensure it hasn’t been tampered with.
You then need to store the breast milk in your freezer until you have at least 1L of it ready to go. At that stage you transport it appropriately (so it doesn’t defrost) to the hospital, where they will test it pre- and post-pasteurisation to make sure there is nothing wrong with the milk itself.
Once it passes all of that, it is available for the hospital to use to help out in cases where the baby is in need! This could include situations such as premature birth, illness in baby or mum, or where mum is having supply issues (very common in premature births apparently).
I am so happy that I will likely be able to participate in this and help out (assuming there is nothing wrong with my blood test or milk tests)! I can’t donate blood for a number of reasons, but being able to donate breast milk is almost as good a feeling!
If you are able to donate yourself, I encourage you to get in contact with your local milk bank (a quick Google search will tell you what’s around your area) – let’s help other Actual Mums out in their times of need in a way only we can!