Being a Breast Milk Donor
Being a breast milk donor starts with a selfless desire to help others. Milk sharing helps save lives, particularly fragile infants who struggle to thrive. Whether it be one drop, one ounce or one hundred gallons to share, being a breast milk donor is a profound experience to say the least.
Ounces of Colostrum
My journey as a breast milk donor began after having my second child in 2016. For the second time, I was experiencing an oversupply of breast milk, which I would soon learn is caused by a condition called hyperlactation syndrome. This time was much different than the first. The struggles of breastfeeding remained, but it was a question that I was asked that would change my life forever.
As I pumped ounces of colostrum into multiple bottles, my lactation consultant asked if I had ever thought about donating my extra breast milk. She claimed to have never seen so much colostrum before. Little did I know this overflowing supply of colostrum just hours after my daughter was born, was the start to my newfound lifestyle.
Soon after being discharged from the hospital with my second born, I began the extensive application process for becoming a breast milk donor through a milk bank. The application process includes a DNA test, blood test, interview questionnaire, physician’s form, pediatric form as well testing each bag of breast milk upon arrival at their production facility.
Two years prior, I was exclusively pumping for my firstborn due to latch issues. I would pump enough milk for four feedings during just one pumping session. I thought this was completely normal, as nobody had told me any different.
At the time, I had no idea what I had experienced was an oversupply of breast milk due to hyperlactation syndrome. Ultimately, I bought a deep freezer and froze my extra breast milk to save for my son in the event I decided to give up on pumping, which I eventually did.
Breastfeeding the second go around was a completely different experience than the first time. Finally I had a baby who latched to nurse. It was still a struggle though, even with the help of a nipple shield and other feeding contraptions.
I felt a sense of accomplishment and failure at the same time. My daughter cried during every feeding and it was a seriously unpleasant experience. I didn’t feel that bond that everyone tells you about and I think I hated nursing as much as she did.
Due to my oversupply, I had no choice other than to pump after every nursing session. My daughter also had colic and it was nearly impossible to set her down so I could pump. I experienced it all, from clogged ducts to multiple bouts of mastitis. By the time I finished pumping, my breasts were painfully engorged yet again.
A Blessing in Disguise
While pregnant with my third child, I was ready to embrace having hyperlactation syndrome and donation prep was in full force again. The third child would bring on the most milk I had ever had. My second daughter, whose gender was a surprise, has turned out to be my best breastfeeder and is still going strong at 16 months old.
Being a breast milk donor is literally a labor of love. I have had to creatively find ways to pump without taking time away from my family and I’ve spent hours each day on cleaning and sanitizing pump parts, storing milk, packing coolers of milk and everything in between. My daily routine is quite complex.
Although dealing with hyperlactation syndrome is a struggle, it has blessed me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. In addition to donating to a milk bank, I have been able to donate breast milk to other moms in my community as well as in other communities where I have visited.
The impact that breast milk donation has on my life is more than I could ever put into words. Through breast milk donation, I have helped saved more lives than I can account for. I have also touched an incredible amount of families, sharing a bond unlike any other. I have always wanted to make an impact on the world. This is the impact I have made. This is what I am most proud of.
Labor of Love
My breast milk has helped feed premature infants, multiple sets of twins and infants with medical issues. I have supplied milk to babies whose mothers have had cancer, struggle with insufficient glandular breast tissue and low milk supply.
It really is a labor of love. The impact I have had on the lives of others is often times more than they can express. I enjoy staying in touch with my recipients on social media and appreciate the gratefulness they have shown me through the years.
Most importantly, many babies were able to get a boost to their immune system, I was able to supply them with enough calories and even prolong the time before their parents had to introduce formula. What an amazing accomplishment for both myself and my recipients!
The struggles of breastfeeding are oh so real. Instead of being shamed and experiencing mom guilt, it’s important for moms and moms-to-be to realize that there is a strong community of other moms out there who are willing to share their breast milk with others. Although milk sharing isn’t for everyone, there is always someone out there who will benefit.
Tabitha is a former early childhood educator, now a mom of three and milk sharing advocate. As a new mom researching anything and everything, Tabitha was looking to become more natural as she became aware of what she was putting in and on her body. She began making her own personal care and beauty products at home. Her blog, All Natural & Good, was then created to share her DIY recipes. Most known for being a breast milk donor, Tabitha has donated over 150 gallons of breast milk to families in need, saving the lives of many fragile infants. Her story was picked up by many media sources, ultimately going viral overnight. Breast milk donation has become a platform for her blog as she continues to create content related to health, wellness and motherhood. You can follow her along this crazy motherhood journey on All Natural & Good, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.