Milk Sharing: a priceless commodity

In an effort to demystify milk sharing, for the next few weeks we will be sharing stories from breastfeeding moms who either donated their excess breastmilk or supplemented their baby with someone else’s milk.  For more information about milk sharing, both informal and through milk banks, please visit our article: Supplement Options: Donor Milk, Milk Banks, and Formula, as well as our Boob Group podcast episode, Low Milk Supply: Donor Milk, Milk Banks, and Formula.

 

Today on the San Diego Breastfeeding Center blog, I am honored to share Cassiopeia Guthrie’s story about donating breastmilk.  If  you would like to submit your story to be shared with our readers, please email me at robinkaplan@sdbfc.com.  Thank you so much, Cassiopeia, for sharing your beautiful story!

 

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For months, I struggled with oversupply and overactive letdown.  By the second week, I was attending breastfeeding support groups several times a week all over San Diego.  I was engorged every single day! Every time my son would finally manage to latch, he would choke, and we were getting milk everywhere and on everything. By the time he was 2 months old, my son had stopped nursing altogether unless we were lying down, and was completely refusing one side unless he was dream feeding.  Frustrated, I started pumping every morning to take the pressure off, and found that many of our problems began to resolve.  And so my pumping journey (and my freezer stash) began…

 

I went back to work when my son was about 4.5 months old.  On my first day, I only found time to pump once in the morning at 10:30.  In that one pump session, I filled both bottles… 16.5 ounces.  My second day, I pumped twice and brought home 24 ounces.  I spoke to another mama at lunch… she told me that she hadn’t been able to breastfeed because she couldn’t make enough milk in her first month.  That was when I realized that my oversupply, while frustrating to me, was a blessing that I could share with others.

 Taken by Chrystal Cienfuegos Photography

Over the course of my time pumping (just a few months shy of two years), I donated about 2000 ounces of milk.  My milk went to many, many babies… some whose mamas I knew, and some that I didn’t… but all in need.  After I stopped pumping, I still found myself engorged at the end of each day, and I was able to share that blessing with two beautiful new babies also attending my son’s home daycare whose mamas were struggling to produce enough milk.  I wet nursed those sweet babes to get them through until pickup time and hand expressed on days when they left early (to leave for the next day). Tandem nursing a wee one and my own toddler was an incredibly moving experience and seeing tears in the eyes of their mamas made each nurse session worth it.


Taken by Chrystal Cienfuegos Photography 

I found myself pregnant just a couple of months later, shortly after my boy’s second birthday, and though I continued to nurse throughout my pregnancy, it was around 20 weeks gestation that my son informed me that my milk was “all gone.” Still, we nursed every day at naptime, bedtime, and wake-up time, and I am happily tandem nursing my two boys now… one 34 months, and the other 18 days old... and I look forward to the opportunity to gift other babies with a priceless commodity that I can share with them once again in the near future, knowing that it will improve their lives.