Categorized | Breastfeeding

Pumping at BlogHer ’11 Part 2: Group Breast Milk Donation to EoF

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Wasting breast milk should be a crime punishable by the Iron Maiden.  Breast Milk is the most amazing liquid on the planet.  It hydrates, it nourishes, it heals, it comforts, it is pure awesomesauce.

So when I decided to leave my son with his father while I attended BlogHer ’11 in San Diego I was immediately hit with the prospect of pumping milk for 4 days.  My first thought would be to bring it home with me because simply dumping it was out of the question!  Then I realized what an ordeal that would be.  Even if I somehow procured Dry Ice to pack it into a cooler for the 8+ hour trip home I would face the TSA.  Would I get an educated agent who understood how to handle breastmilk?  Or an agent who demanded I taste my milk or scan it in an X Ray machine?

Then it hit me: Donate it!  Yes! I would find a mother local to San Diego who had a baby in need of breast milk.  Even if I only had 50 ounces isn’t that something?  Of course it is!  And lightning struck again when I decided to blog about my donation plans to enlist other lactating mothers!  It was brilliant (in my humble opinion.)

For any of you unaware, there are various ways a person can donate breast milk.

One would be donating to a Milk Bank. A Milk Bank would screen the donor through blood tests and the milk is then pasterurized or otherwise turned into other forms of milk for babies.  Even though donors are not getting paid for the milk the banks do charge a (hefty) price for human milk.  A great read regarding Milk Banks and the human milk business is on JWOC {Swindled: The Ugly Side of Milk Donation} I would recommend reading this if you are considering donating to a Milk Bank in order to be informed about what happens to your milk in many cases.

Peer Milk Sharing involves direct person to person donations.  Utilizing online or in person connections women can donate milk to one another for various reasons.  It is really up to the donor and recipient to be honest and up front regarding health concerns or medications being taken. Reasons for peer milk donations range from intolerance to formula, adoptive parents, and help for cancer patients.

 

 

BlogHer Milk Recipient. CUTE!

I knew a Peer to Peer Milk Share would be the best in my situation. I was staying at a hotel so I would need to the recipient to pick up the milk.  I chose Eats on Feets and after a quick search, found their Facebook Page for Southern California.  After posting my plans on the page I quickly got an email from a mother who needed the milk.  Her son had been tongue tied and he was clipped but she pumped and was having supply issues.  The baby wasn’t doing well on formula and tolerated breast milk much better.

I responded that I would at least have my own milk but potentially the milk from a few other moms.

Word spread through the internet about my plan. I had comments on my blog post, tweets from other attendees, and emails asking to be involved.  Another mom created a Facebook Group for moms pumping at BlogHer (regardless of donating) and we kept in touch in this way.

At BlogHer I found even more moms!  Purely by coincidence I chatted with a mother at a party who was pumping and boy am I glad I did!  Molly of Milwaukee Mamas.com turned out to be our biggest “producer” and needs an award for her amazing supply!  Her milk was a large percentage of the total we donated!  Other attendees also spread the word in person.

I want to send a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the moms who donated. We had 1 time pumpers who were away from older nurslings and others like myself who had babies under a year old and lots of milk was still flowing!  1 oz or 100 ounces, these women took time to save their milk instead of the easy path of dumping it down the drain.  They have my gratitude!

In no particular order here are the moms I know who donated:

Jen of LifewithLevi.com

Kristen of CoolMomPicks.com

Jill of BabyRabies.com

Suzanne of Bebehblog.com

Elizabeth of MeasaMommy.com

Christa of LittleBCBG.com

Molly of MilwaukeeMamas.com

Jessica of MomEinstein.com

And One Employee of the Convention Center handed me a bag too (and was asked of any meds/etc first of course)

That is a grand total of 14 (including myself)

All I can say is Wow. I have tears in my eyes just typing out the list of Moms involved.  I am so amazed at the hugeness of this donation, the willingness of so many women to donate, and the overall positive outcome.  Most people don’t even know that breast milk donation is an option, so to have so many involved is truly amazing and such a testament to the caliber of women who attend BlogHer!

Just 1 of 2 Bags

In order to collect every possible drop of breastmilk I was able to wrangle Jill (Baby Rabies) to meet up with our milk recipient on Sunday morning.  I had to leave our hotel at 4:15 am so having anyone meet that early would have been crazy.  Instead, I collected as much milk as possible the night before (and ran back and forth from the North and South Towers of the hotel about 5 times!) then dropped it off to Jill at 12:30 am (after I pumped for the last time) where her fridge was already stocked with milk.  I have a feeling our baby recipient is going to gain a few pounds- let’s just say that Jill and Suzanne both make milk with extra cream!  It resembled yogurt- no lie!  And in case you are curious, we all wrote our names on our own bags of milk.  If Sam shows any sort of negative reaction to the milk hopefully it will be possible to trace to one mother and they can discontinue using those bags.

Jill met with Jen (Life with Levi) in the morning for her milk and the milk we pumped at the party.  They delivered the milk to our mom (I hate that I couldn’t be there myself but getting more milk was more important!) on Sunday morning and it all went smoothly.  I am so relieved!

In total we had 70 bags of milk.  Most had 4 ounces (or more) in each bag.  My guess is we had 350 ounces at least but to be safe let’s say 300 ounces were donated.

300 Ounces.

Suddenly, the inconvenience of pumping was replaced with a warm fuzzy feeling.  Sam, our little donor baby, has been drinking the breastmilk and Mom says his tummy is already acting better compared to the formula.  Luckily they had lots of room in the freezer!

Blissed out and in a Breastmilk Coma.

So next year, New York City, if you are going to be pumping at BlogHer ’12, just let me know!  We’ll be doing the same through Eats on Feets in August 2012.  I may not be breastfeeding by then (who knows) but I will be happy to coordinate another BlogHer Breast Milk Donation.

Anyone can donate breastmilk at any time!  If you have a freezer overflowing with milk, or have an oversupply, or just want to donate, locate an Eats on Feets or Human Milk for Human Babies Chapter in your area!

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Kim Rosas began Dirty Diaper Laundry in 2009 out of a desire to help more parents understand modern cloth diapers. She lives in Florida with her husband of 5 years and her two boys. Even though none of her boys wear diapers anymore she is still just as committed to promoting them. In her spare time Kim enjoys video editing, photography, and coffee.

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  • Pamelas1981

    That’s such a wonderful story, thanks for sharing and hopefully by doing sp you will encourage more to do the same in future at similar events as well.

  • Tanya B

    I donate on a regular basis and I thank you for bringing awareness to other mothers about peer to peer milk sharing. Some mothers think they have to be done nursing or away from baby to collect milk to donate but that is not true I am with my baby 5 days a week then work two ten hour days away from here and am able to donate. I pump 3 times a day every day and three more times 5than that every day I work. I found for me I get the best results when I nurse on one side and pump the other side at the same time. I have donated to three different families since I started to donate 8 months ago. One family has received 1000 oz, one family has received 600oz, and one family has received 200oz so far and I am hoping for lots more in the future for that little boy! I would love to have some way to normalize this to all mothers. I wish families would not jump to formula when they have problems nursing. Thank you for what you have done to help get the ball rolling on normalizing milk sharing!


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