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 Christine McCarty's story about how she mustered up the courage to ask a friend for extra breastmilk for her baby. If you would like to submit your story to be shared with our readers, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you so much, Christine, for sharing your inspiring story with us!
My story starts several months ago, when my daughter was about 5 months. I have a friend who has Raynaud's disease and pumps constantly to continue to give her son the best nutrition she can. We were having a conversation about breastfeeding (as most of our conversations are about, lol) and she mentioned she produced 80-120oz PER DAY! A few weeks later I was off to see my favorite IBCLC frantic and in tears because for 2 days I had only pumped 1.5oz (from both breasts total, not individually) per pumping session at work. I remember hugging my lactation consultant, crying in her shoulder, telling her "I'm losing it, I'm losing my daughter's lifeline, I'm such a poor mom, I just can't keep up." After much reassurance, we got back on the right track, but I still had the issue that my production hadn't gotten back up to speed for the next day I had to go to work.
I was in the grocery store about to buy some formula when I thought of my friend and how she was complaining she was running out of freezer space. I immediately put the formula back on the shelf. I knew I had to do something, but nothing about giving my daughter formula felt comfortable, and I wanted to exhaust the only other option I thought I had… my friend! I had to think about how to approach her to ask her about using her milk because I wasn't sure how comfortable she would be with it, since there's such a huge stigma attached. I mustered up the courage and called her to ask her to discuss milk sharing with her husband and see if they were mutually comfortable with it.
My friend started crying and I was in shock! Had I offended her? Was she sorry for me and my low production rate? Was this the end of our friendship? No way! She said she was so honored that I would come to her to ask for help and this meant so much to her to be able to help our family and help my daughter! She talked it over with her husband that night and it was settled. They brought 180oz to my house the next day along with her medical testing she had gotten done throughout her pregnancy and all she had afterwards, along with her son's paperwork.
The funny thing is, after I had gotten her milk, I became a total milk maid! My production boosted SO much! I'm sure it was because I knew I had her milk to rely on and that took off all the pressure I had put on myself. I didn't even need to use her milk until I had to go out of town for a week for work when my daughter was 8 months old. This time she donated 300oz. My daughter drank and lived happily off of her milk while I was across the country and when I came back she latched right back onto me and we've been nursing beautifully ever since. Now at 9 1/2 months she's still sucking strong and we'll continue to support breastfeeding and milk sharing :)
Also, my friend now feeds two other families who's children are exclusively drinking her milk (no solids yet), as well as her own six month old son, WHAT A ROCKSTAR!!!