Donating Milk? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 08-27-2011, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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My daughter was born at 27 weeks due to chorioamnionitis, about 2-1/2 weeks ago.  She is my first baby.  I am pumping and getting about 1000ml/ day (at least 4 oz every 3 hours).  My freezer is overflowing.  She is still working on the colostrum stores that the NICU has in their freezer, and once that is used up she will be getting freshly pumped milk (and someday actually at the breast, although that feels a long way off...)


When can I feel confident in donating some of the milk I have saved up?  I know I have a long road of pumping ahead (she is on track to be discharged by late Oct but who knows, really), and I don't want to get all confident in my supply then have it drop off over time.  On the other hand, this is such a wealth of milk and someone should benefit from.  I feel lucky to have this kind of supply at this point.


Recommendations?  Past experiences?



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#2 of 6 Old 08-30-2011, 07:24 AM
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Not only that, but milk ages in the freezer, too (will be considered too old to use eventually).

My gut feeling is that you should consider donating the oldest half of it now (so 10 days' worth?, maybe keeping some of the most colustrum rich stuff for yourself), and then see how things go over the next 10 days or so with expressing & needs.


I don't have any experience of premies... but in case this info helps (sorry if it's old news):  A friend who expressed for her twins for 9-10 months said that apparently the suckling reflex comes on strongest at gestational age 37-38 weeks, and that had she known that she thinks she could have successfully got the twins to latch on at about that point (she would have made a much bigger effort, anyway).  As it was, she never got them to latch on.


Xing my fingers & hoping all goes well for your darling little one.

~ Yank Transplant to Britain and Zookeeper of 4 DC age 15 and under. ~
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#3 of 6 Old 08-30-2011, 09:39 PM
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Congratuations on the birth of your daughter!  It sounds like you are doing an amazing job pumping for her.


My son wasn't a preemie.  He was born with a birth defect that prevented him from taking any food by mouth for a while.  So I exclusively pumped for him for about 3 months.  Personally, I didn't feel comfortable donating the rest of my stash until my DS was up to being exclusively breastfed.  When I was pumping and when we were transitioning back to the breast there were many days when my fresh pumping supply didn't meet his needs and I was so thankful to have the frozen BM to supplement with.


But Cavy is right.  There is a limit to how old the BM can be to still be donated.  At the milk bank I donated to, it depended on how the BM was stored (deep freeze, fridge freezer,etc).  You may want to contact your local milk bank and ask what their guidelines are.

Good Luck!

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#4 of 6 Old 08-31-2011, 11:49 AM
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i would hang on to it for now, frozen solid milk is good for 6 months for sure and you never know. when i had my twins i could so much for the first 5-6 weeks, your body produces milk differently in these first weeks. then around week 5 your body starts settling into the supply and demand system that it will stick with. when this happened for me it saw a big dip in my production for a few weeks and i got into a new rhythm. and while this was going on my twins were growing like mad and were still having a hard time latching. i went from maybe 40 bags in the freezer to less than 5! it all ended up great in the end but over 6 months of pumping i saw my stash go up and down widely with growth spurts and my being tired on a given week or in my case the massive stress of a death in the family dropping my supply badly one week.


so i would hang on to everything, unless it is maybe older than 4 months?  if you do plan on donating, you might look into what the various needs and requirements based on where you are giving, if its a official place they often have to approve you prior to you pumping the milk. ifs a private donation that is not usually as strict.  also if you are pumping i would include if it is am or pm milk if you dont note the time, there are many folks that do not think morning milk should be fed at night since it has different levels of cortisol and other things in to.


hope that helps!

partners.gif 2twins.gif  So what if I don't fit cleanly into a defined parenting style, my kids don't fit into a personality archetype either!

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#5 of 6 Old 09-01-2011, 12:46 AM
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I doubt very much the milk bank would be fussy about the cortisol thing :).

I only suggested donating some now because OP is saying she's run out of room in the freezer.  Unless she can make more room or wants to buy another freezer.

My babies were fussy in response to caffeine until about 4-6 months old; I mention that because if I did sort milk batches by time of day it would probably be with regard to whether I might have had caffeine (I can only have it myself in the mornings or it keeps me up at night, too).  I suppose ideally you'd not have caffeine at all; then again, maybe you need it to cope right now (I would!).  And premies only get like 5-10ml a day of donated breastmilk in addition to their other feeds, so they won't be getting same dose that your own feeding baby would.


Best of luck to you & your LO.

~ Yank Transplant to Britain and Zookeeper of 4 DC age 15 and under. ~
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#6 of 6 Old 09-11-2011, 10:19 PM
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Hmmmm... this is a tough one! Firstly, congratulations! Secondly, big hugs on enduring the NICU experience right now. Thirdly, KUDOS for pumping around the clock and thinking of others while doing so!! :o)


Like ~Adorkable~, I also had twins. Mine are almost 4 months old. They were born at 33 weeks and were discharged at 37. When we left the NICU, they were breastfeeding but not exclusively like I had hoped. So, I continued to breastfeed and bottle (which obviously meant pumping) until they were solely nursing for all of their feeds. We had to bring a huge cooler to haul all of the frozen milk home that was stored in the hospital. Then once we were home, the stash continued to increase and our deep freeze is overflowing. After they began nursing exclusively, I quit pumping altogether. However, in my opinion, I think the needs and demands of milk for twins is quite a bit different than a singleton.


With that said, I think there are a lot of factors to consider. For me personally, I probably wouldn't consider donation until your LO is discharged and exclusively breastfeeding for awhile. The NICU is such a crazy place, and while I'm sure everything will be smooth sailing for you, there are so many variables that you can never plan for (or even outside events like what ~Adorkable~ mentioned). I wouldn't want to be in a situation where something happened that was extremely stressful and directly affected your milk supply and then you were left wishing that you had kept your precious resources! ;o)


Also, I don't know what your plans are after you bring your baby home (SAHM, work, etc), but those circumstances may come into play as well. If you're a SAHM and your baby is able to always nurse on-demand, you probably won't end up using much of the pumped milk. But if you go back to work, you may find that you may not be able to pump as much as you'd like or your baby eats more, etc, etc. It's tough to know.


Like others mentioned, I would talk to the milk bank to see what their requirements are. Preemie milk is different than term milk, so I don't know if that has different requirements or not. 


Best wishes to you and your daughter! Hopefully your time in the NICU is uneventful and just spent feeding and growing! :o) Big hugs mama! Stay strong. It can get monotonous and lonely - but eventually you'll be on the outside! Sending you smiles. 

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