Offering milk to a friend whose babies will be 2 months prem? Inappropriate? Weird? Disgusting? Invasive? Nice? Supportive? Generous? Opinions wanted please.(41 Posts)
One of my best friends is PG with twins. She's due to deliver them via section within the next few days. She's 31 weeks so they'll be significantly premature.
I am currently BFing my 5 week old DS. I am blessed with an abundant milk supply.
If my friend struggles to EBF both babies would it be odd to offer her some of my milk so she can avoid formula? I know she has been keen to BF both babies throughout her PG but they weren't due to be delivered for another couple of weeks, at least, however one twins growth has slowed right down so delivery has been moved forward.
I know they will only need milk in very small quantities at first, they'll be tiny, but at only 31 weeks PG and recovering from a section I also know she may struggle. She BFed her other two DC, exclusively, for a few days only before moving onto mixed feeding and then swiftly onto fully FF. I don't think she was very confident in her ability to feed them and perhaps wasn't supported or encouraged enough by her partner or mum to keep going and was perhaps a bit squeamish about it.
I don't want to weird her out or make her feel uncomfortable and, obviously, I'll be supporting her 100% in her attempts to express and feed both babies AND if she decides to give them formula (her babies, her body, her choice) but it seems too serendipitous (to me anyway) that I'm making newborn baby milk and she will have two newborns who would really benefit from being EBF. I know it's possible for her to make enough milk and her milk would be better for them than mine but I also know mine would be better for them than formula.
I used to donate milk to the milk bank at Kings College, years ago when I was feeding my DD. I am a BF supporter both voluntarily and paid (when not on mat leave) so I probably have a biased view about all things boob. Having said all of this though I don't really know how I'd feel if the shoe were on the other foot and I were due to deliver premie twins. Would I want her milk? Honestly, I don't know. I just know that if her babies develop any GI problems due to formula (i.e NEC) I will massively regret (understatement) not having offered her some milk.
What do you think? I guess the sensible answer is wait and see
I'd mention it to her. You're a very considerate friend
It's a lovely idea. My friend and I fed each other babies 30 odd years ago ( maybe odd wasn't the best word to use )
We didn't do it on a regular basis but if we were babysitting and the baby needed a feed then we did.
My Id twins were 6 weeks early and I was pushed to give them formula in hospital so they wouldn't lose too much weight. I mixed fed, so expressed all I had as they were too little to suckle properly, then bottle fed expressed milk and did formula top ups.
I exclusively breast fed for a year from 2 weeks but still feel sad about being pushed into giving formula (even though I think they did need it as they were losing wight even with it) or being given options.
I think you are a great friend and need to broach it with her, some people can get totally weirded out by talking about breast milk donation etc but good luck
I think you are very kind and your friend will appreciate your offer even if she prefers not to take you up on it. It's clear you are offering because you care and want to help make things easier, not being pushy or anything.
I think she needs to make her own mind up, and not be made to feel bad or guilty if she decides to FF.
I think its a lovely offer and if you are good/close friends then yes do offer but the hospital may want you tested/screened ( obv you will have had HIV tests etc in preg?) But that is something to consider that may cause an issue but as you have donated before you know about that side of it I imagine
I would be very touched if you offered this to me - you are a lovely friend I know people who did this when the recipient mother almost died in labour.
A couple of things I would also do:
1) ask your friend to consult her medical team about expressing and freezing colostrum. That can then be given in the first few days if they struggle: LLL have a leaflet on this, but she needs to get medical advice on whether this is safe at this stage of pg.
2) get her to talk to her medical teams about the availability of a hospital grade pump - her birth plan should be clear on her bf preferences and she could make contact with the infant feeding coordinator at the hospital. She should check what screened donor milk might be available and express her preference for this over ff.
3) you should be up front about the risks of donating your milk to her. She needs to make an informed choice. I would be up front about the risks eg medication I take (supposed to be safe in bf), the fact that if I have any illnesses I am unaware of eg hep b etc that could pass through the milk and the fact that my home sterilising methods may not result in milk sterile enough for her to be happy to feed it to her possible pretty poorly children.
4) make sure your suggestion is done very gently and say that you don't expect she will necessarily want to go ahead - so that at this very stressful time she doesn't have to worry about potentially offending you if she isn't keen.
She should consult her medical team for their advice on this option before consisting it.
Another useful thing for her to consider doing at this stage is having some info ready on hand expressing - best way for her to express colostrum after the birth if needed. The Mamet technique is excellent and there should be info on the Internet about this.
Yes, offer You're a fantastic friend. Also worth mentioning the fact you used to donate both to her, and for her to mention to the medical team. There is a baby milk sharing movement going on at the moment, and doing it between friends is always the first step
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
It's a very caring offer. If it's to be a private donation then have hiv tested for (not saying you have this in anyway ) and be sure to not be taking any medications. On the issue of feeding babies the breastmilk donation should be run by her medical team so they can give the medical 'yes' to your donation.
Do it, do it, do it! There are donor milk banks in this country, but they are few and far between. Breast milk is even more important for premature babes, so if she can' t express, then unless she is very fortunate, the hospital will be forced to give formula. You will have to prove you HIV status, since that can be passed on in your milk, but you would have been tested during your pregnancy, and it will be in your notes. If I was in her position, I would want to be offered the opportunity to say yes. Have you thought of being a milk donor? I was one when I breast fed my DD2...it is a good feeling to know that every ounce you express will hep other babies, not just your own.
Sorry...I need to read your post more thoroughly OP...of course you know the benefits, you have been a donor! You are a good friend....and you milk is better than any cows' !
Lovely idea. I had a prem who needed topping up and would have welcomed this.
I agonised over a similar scenario - I donate to the milk bank locally and knew a friend needed to give her (term) baby extra milk for reasons I won't go into but wasn't keen on formula.
I was worried she'd find it odd / feel it insensitive to demonstrate I could make more than I need. I emailed so she didn't have to react in person and said I would understand if she didn't feel comfortable about it and she needn't ever mention it if so. I also sent her links to kellymom info on milk sharing and said she could see the results of my milk bank blood tests but she'd need to be comfortable with a small risk. Obviously I don't totally know how it went down but I think she appreciated the offer even though she decided not to take it up. I was glad I offered and of course not remotely worried that she said no, in fact it was a mild relief as it would've been a faff
I had DTs early and really struggled to feed them. I did manage to establish bf and ebf till 10 months, but I WISH I had had a kind friend like you and hadn't had to give them formula for the first 3 days.
If it was me I'd be ringing round my friends asking for any spare milk but then I know other ppl who would be grossed out by the idea of using someone else's milk. I think it's a lovely idea to offer, she can say no.
I think it is one of the kindest things you could possibly do for her and her babies. I think be honest and say that you understand completely if she feels funny about it but the offer is very much there and you would love to help her if she would like it. She is lucky to have a good friend willing to do this for her so I wouldn't worry about it at all x
How kind of you. I think not is a great idea. The only word of warning is that some people will think it is gross, and your friend may think this. If she does, hopefully she will get over this and just say no thank you. Just be prepared for this reaction. Although from the title if this thread you probably already are ready for anything.
Just to emphasise, I think you are lovely.
You are a lovely person. It is possible that your friend will find the thought a bit weird but I bet they'll appreciate that you are offering a very kind gift. Don't take offence if they say no, but make the gesture.
wow i didn't breastfeed but my dc had donor breast milk in scbu and if one of my friends had offered what you're offering i would have been overwhelmed with gratitude
<gulp, sniff, sob>
Lots of good advice here already, esp HarrietVane about practical things to consider about pumping and donating milk.
My DS was 12 weeks premature, completely unexpectedly. One of the nicest things to happen in those horrible, anxious, stressful first days after he was born was to get a text from an old friend (not a majorly close one, but have known him for ages) to say that his wife would be more than happy to donate her breast milk, if I ever struggled. The text came just as I was freaking out about why I couldn't seem to express any colostrum, and why my milk was so slow to come in (I had ZERO help from the hospital). It was such a relief to know there was a backup plan! As it happens I did then manage to google my way to advice on how to start expressing etc and soon had established a good supply. But knowing that there was another option that didn't involve formula made me feel much better.
So: I know everyone is different. But if it was me you'd be offering it to, I'd say let your friend know the offer is there (without going into all the details) - and if she expresses an interest, you can then work out how the mechanics and involve her babies' doctors etc. You're lovely and it's a very kind gesture, however she ends up feeling about it.
It's not weird to me. Always makes me when people are grossed out by human bm but will happily feed cows milk. I live in the country those udders are repulsive.
My v good friend (also a mner) had to go to hospital about 2 days after having her dc4 she wasn't allowed to feed baby I offered too luckily she ended up kicking up stink with help of mn and having baby bought back but she didn't think at all odd that I offered to feed her (I was there when she was born and we are like sosters closeness) she was worried about confusing baby and sabotaging bf by introducing a bottle so soon.
Oh my god yes do mention it to her, by email would be a great idea in tjat she doesn't then have to decide immediately.
My DD wasn't prem but was very sick in intensive care from a few hours after she was born. I was absolutely determined that she would be breastfed (if she survived) but took myself to the edge of a breakdown trying to get enough milk for her and avoid formula.
In the end with no milk banks and poor BF support I had to mixfeed for a month before I could get sufficient supply (dd losing weight severely, massive massive pressure to move to FF) and I'd have accepted any additional milk gratefully.
I was never blessed with an abundant supply as such but fed until DD was 27months. An incredible journey which could have been easier to begin with had I had a friend like you.
Yes, lovely idea. I've always regretted not donating milk when I was awash with it.
yes offfer, but please dont judge or preassurise if she says no initially.
My ds2 was 3 months early & could only manage to express & freeze a trickle ready for when he could take feeds by tube.
by the time his suck reflex had kicked in i ahd stapped producing milk, I felt like such a failure at the time as his shelf in te freezer was almost empty despite him being the sikest baby on the unit & the ony one not receiving milk.
It is a very kind offer and I hope if a friend had made the same offer to em at the time that I would've felt able to accept but honestly I was so upset, confused, worried & every other emotion I really dont know how I'd have reacted.
Lovely idea. But if it were me I'd make the offer face to face. I'd lighten the mood by saying "I've got something I want to ask you but you may think I'm weird/ it weird," - a joke always helps things I think!
Then explain to her that you have agonised over asking her as you'd totally understand if she found it offensive. Then go into it. The highlight would obviously be how beneficial (and sometimes life saving) breast milk can be for premature babies.
If a friend asked me like this, made it quite light and then went into just how much she'd stressed about it I'd be really comfortable saying no if that's how I felt. And if she says yes, fantastic luck for the babies!
You're lovely :-)
Also though take into account squeamishness through the 'unknown' entity of your milk. Say you'd liaise with her team and produce documents proving its safety.
That's a beautiful thing to do. You've brightened my morning
just say that if shes ever stuck for breastmilk and she wants to go down that route, then you used to be a donor and you'd be more than happy to help if thats what she wanted.
even if she thinks its a little strange at first, so what.
theres worse things in life than being seen as a bit weird ;)
you could say that you are going to donate your milk to the milk bank but if she would prefer you would be happy for her to have it.
She may feel more comfortable with an unknown donor.
Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I'm actually surprised by how many of you have been so positive about it, I thought more people would say "Urgh, no way!" Perhaps posting in AIBU or even chat might have got more of those responses, maybe sticking in the feeding section will only give me nice, safe pro BF answers
I like the idea of emailing her the idea to give her the opportunity to say "urgh, no way!" without having to hide it from me if she feels that way. Good points about the logistics of it too. I would imagine I'd have to be screened again and they may want to pasteurise it before the babies get it, is that even possible with a private donation? I would have thought that milk banks usually do all that for the hospitals? Perhaps it might be easier for her to use a milk bank? My offer might open that idea to her if she hasn't thought or been told about it yet? She's at UCLH, does anyone know if they offer banked milk there?
I will offer, via email, and keep it light with no pressure and no hard sell on how much better it would be for her babies than formula milk in case she does end up giving them formula (last thing she needs is to feel bad about what they're eating) and then she can do what she wants with the offer, even if that's ignore it.
I agree that you should offer, lovely idea, and you sound very sensitive to her feelings.
I had DS at UCH, they do offer donor milk there. I don't know what their criteria are but at my local NNU where I volunteer only the smallest and sickest are offered it as it costs a fortune.
Can you offer maximum support to your friend with expressing? It's a few years since I had DS but the support was not brilliant. I didn't learn to hand express properly until I did the peer support course two years later...
Finally, if she lives in NW London there is specialist twin feeding support available- maybe that's the case in other areas?
If you offer and she turns you down, or is offended, please don't take it to heart! My DS was born at the same gestation, and having a prem baby fucked up my head like nothing else ever has. Now, with my sensible, non-post-natal-hormonal head on, I'd say what a fabulous idea, and what a lovely friend you are. However, if you'd suggested this to me just after I'd given birth, I would've told you to fuck off to the far side of fuck. Then a few months later I'd have been mortified when I began to think rationally again!
sitting in a sterile room with a pump that sounds like a fcking lawnmower with a polaroid photo of your baby in intensive care really did nothing to stimulate my milk supply, stimulated loads of tears but fck all milk!
Any help or advice re expressing would be welcome i'm sure
I just retread my post and it doesn't make sense and looks like I am saying don't offer. Massive mistype after 8 months of no sleep..... I think it is a great idea and I would be so grateful if I was in your friends position.
Just found out today is National Milk banking day!
Perhaps I could use that as an opener...?
My eldest son was born at 28 weeks and right from the off the hospital pushed the importance breast milk and expressing for him, there was a dedicated pumping room in SCBU, breast feeding support nurse etc. So it could well be your friend does receive good support there.
I think an e-mail is a good idea. I did manage to express for my son but if not I don't think I would have been comfortable with an offer from a friend if I had received one. As someone else said your emotions are all over the place when you have a very early baby and I think it would have made my feelings of guilt/failure worse. So giving her the chance to consider without the pressure of face to face sounds good.
It sounds like you are being a very good friend to her
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