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Donor breastmilk- has anyone been a breastmilk donor?

(35 Posts)
orchidee Mon 13-Jun-11 00:01:46

Just something I'm considering for the future. I'd appreciate hearing your stories before talking to the donor bank people. Any advice welcome. When did you start donating, how much/ how often, how did it affect your supply, any problems?

japhrimel Mon 13-Jun-11 09:50:55

I seriously considered it but then had to use my my own freezer stash because of medications I was on that disagreed with DD. Before I'd rebuilt that up and dealt with the paperwork for donating, I ran into issues with expressing when DD got to 4 months old - it got a lot harder. I also got a lot busier as I'm trying to do some (self-employed and charity) work again so expressing properly every day suddenly became a tie for me rather than something I did as a matter of course.

You need to get started well before your LO is 6 months old for most milk banks as otherwise people tend to donate for a very short time. So that often doesn't leave a lot of time to sort it out if you haven't even considered donating before LO is born.

If you express at about the same time every day, your supply will just adjust though.

Cosmosis Mon 13-Jun-11 11:51:29

Yes I have, but probably just as a one off donation. I had a big freezer stash which just kept getting added to when I went back to work as for the first month, I was expressing 10oz per day and DS was taking precisely none of it at the CM. Some of it went in to food, but most of it just went in to the freezer! I contact chester milk bank as I asked on here and they will take you at over 6m, even when a lot of other milk banks don’t. Lynda who runs it is lovely and my milk went off with her a few weeks ago. I am going to see what my freezer stash is looking like again in a month or so to see if it’s worth sending in any more.

I should have counted up how much I sent really, but it must have been about a litre?

Anyway, do contact them. You will have to do blood tests obviously for screening. As japhrimel said if you express regularly your supply adjusts as though it was another feed, so you’re not depriving your own child of any, don’t worry about that grin

orchidee Mon 13-Jun-11 13:21:55

Thanks- I will look into how it works locally. The 6 month cutoff is a surprise, I'd not have considered that as a possibility. Best get a move on then !

organiccarrotcake Mon 13-Jun-11 15:51:44

Some banks cut off donating at 6 months, but others need you to start before 6 months and can carry on up to 12 months.

emsies Mon 13-Jun-11 22:01:41

I did and donated tons (lots of litres!) I was very lucky in that my supply was er plentiful and I was so glad to see it go to good use.

Contact the hospital nearest to you that does it to see what they say ( you can do so by email) and they will let you know what you need to do. I had a blood test and someone came to my house whenever my freezer got too full to collect the milk smile They provide sterilised bottles.

hildathebuilder Tue 14-Jun-11 11:05:12

I did, as my DS was prem. I was lucky and always had plenty of milk for him, but it was heartbreaking to see that others didn't. And personally I always found expressing easy.

In my hospital they like you to start before 6 months, but can carry on after. Its to do with the content of breast milk post weaning. You have to have screening tests (which are blood tests) and then that's it. As a general rule they prefer regular donations, but will take what they can get. They provided the bottles, but not the pump (they were in really short supply for the nicu babies mums) and were very hot about sterilising.

However all the milk was then pasteurised.

The earlier milk tends to be more valuable, and if you are at all like me and can donate any milk while your baby is still preterm they really love you as that is like gold for preterm babies. But they want anything they can get, and I know of parents from other hospitals who would dirve miles to pick up milk for their babies when the mums got into difficulties

Some milk banks collect. Some don't. Its worth knowing what happens locally to you.

If you can donate please please think about it. In some cases it really does save lives.

hildathebuilder Tue 14-Jun-11 11:06:19

Oh and it didn't affect my supply. If anything it increased it which made growth spurts compartively easy. It also meant I had some stash for my DS who was happy with bottle feeds. And in the end I think i donated about 8-9 litres

ThatllDoPig Tue 14-Jun-11 11:08:48

I had same experience of it as emsies
Go for it, if you have lots of milk and have time to express.
It is a really good feeling to be giving something so precious to those tiny ones who need it.

In fact you've made me think about doing it again this time round.
Couldn't with middle one due to medication, but am free again now and lots of milk.

LiegeAndLief Tue 14-Jun-11 21:46:17

I donated a freezer load when my ds came home from hospital - he was prem and tube fed. I started off not being able to express very much, so he had donor milk which I was extremely grateful for, and then suddenly the flood gates opened and I was probably expressing 2-3 times what he drank in a day, so had a huge stash left over when he was fully bf.

I had a form to fill in, no blood tests or anything like that (although I had had the standard tests when pg to rule out HIV etc), and they let me donate even though I was on medication for high blood pressure. The milk is all pasteurised before use.

Please do it - someone like me will love you! I never looked at those little bottles of donated milk for ds without thinking of the woman who donated and feeling thankful to her.

organiccarrotcake Thu 23-Jun-11 22:46:15

Have you had any more thoughts about this, OP?

Feel free to message me if you want to take about it more. I run a milk depot and spend a lot of time talking to people about it, and would be glad to help.

Another way of helping which is really important is to consider supporting UKAMB financially by making a donation or becoming a member. UKAMB is the charity which campaigns for the setting up of milk banks, and manages the research on the benefits of donor milk. It ensures that milk banks work to the latest guidelines, and it promotes milk banking within the UK.

Bearing in mind that donating breast milk means that you will be quite likely to be saving the life of someone else's baby, supporting UKAMB means that more milk banks can be set up so that even more babies can be helped.

orchidee Fri 24-Jun-11 06:10:07

organiccarrotcake - lovely name btw, you've triggered a post-feed craving.

I contacted my local milk bank and they won't supply a pump and I don't have one so I haven't taken it any further at the moment. I'd be okay with spending some cash on a pump (akin to a donation) but haven't expressed before, have no experience and don't want to buy something inadequate and be left with it, especially when I'm not expressing for myself. From what I've picked up here pump effectiveness varries and I would have preferred to hire or borrow one for the task. (Which is my usual approach to something I'll.use temporarily). You've got me thinking about it again though, I just went into the 6 week growth spurt after contacting the milk bank and the accompanying feeding frenzy became my focus.

organiccarrotcake Fri 24-Jun-11 09:03:35

orchidee thanks, I feel hungry every time I'm on MN grin.

Yes, it's a tricky one, the pump thing. Firstly though, at 6 weeks I would wait another fortnight to let your milk settle down a bit especially if this is your first baby you've breastfed. At around 8 weeks your milk will be more stable and you won't be giving yourself an oversupply.

It's not usual for a milk bank to supply a pump as they are so cash-strapped anyway that they need them for the mums of the preemies in the hospital and can't spare any. They would tend to have hospital grade ones which are uber expensive but very good, and have completely separate pump and collection parts for sterility between users.

You can hire one from your local NCT group ( although it's not cheap. They're great though, really quiet and very, very effective.

In terms of buying one, in my experience both personally and with my donors, I find electric pumps to be the most effective generally. Lansinoh do a double pump which can be quicker, but I used one myself and didn't find the suction to be great when double pumping, and anyway I preferred to pump at the same time as feeding so mostly only used one side. Medela have a good reputation and I've had one of the older style single collection Medelas which worked well for me, too.

I would start off trying to learn hand expressing. If you've an NCT BFing counsellor nearby they will (free of charge) teach you to do this. Or a local baby cafe or breastfeeding group may be able to. You may find that you get on really well with it and don't need a pump at all - bonus!

EightiesChick Fri 24-Jun-11 09:14:46

sad I would have loved to do this as I had a really good supply - however, when I checked it out the medication I am on prevented me from donating. It's interesting that you said yours was OK liegeandlief as they list the OK ones but say 'all other medication' rules you out. The list also says not if you have had a blood transfusion which also rules me out. Shame as otherwise I would certainly have done it. I had a manual Avent pump and did fine with that.

organiccarrotcake Fri 24-Jun-11 09:20:43

eighties yes, it's very sad that blood transfusions rule mums out, as do quite a few meds even though they would be ok for your own baby via your milk. It's because the prem babies are so small that even tiny amounts of meds in the milk may have a disproportionate effect, and also they may already be on strong meds which would react with that in the donor milk.

It's always worth checking with UKAMB though, just in case, if you are on meds, as sometimes the list might change or a specific drug may be found to be fine but is not on the list.

But eighties, lovely of you to consider it smile And maybe you could still support the cause by joining UKAMB, and telling any pregnant friends about milk banking? So many people I come across had never heard of it, and would have liked to donate.

ThatllDoPig Fri 24-Jun-11 12:07:30

Thanks organic I'm inspired. Just phoned my nearest one.
There should be posters up in maternity units, get donors aware of what they can do to help.

nannyl Fri 24-Jun-11 12:13:12

I am seriously considering it to.

My local hospital is part of the breast milk bank scheme thing so shouldnt be a problem.

Obviously it requires me to produce plenty of breast milk, but my mother has, so have all my biological aunts, and both grandmothers. They have all had far far far too much milk, and my mother and one of my grandmothers donated their excess breast milk, so assuming i inherit their mass milk production breasts, then I plan to as well.

At my hospital you need to start donating before baby is 6months but if you are already donating can continue until 12month after babies birth.

katz Fri 24-Jun-11 12:16:49

i did, i donated several litres, got into the habbit of expressing an extra 6oz each morning and it just built up. Bank i donated too sent me plastic containers to put it into and i froze it. I then took it all over to them and they were very pleased to received it.

organiccarrotcake Fri 24-Jun-11 13:30:01

pig Yes, I know, but generally the reason they're not there is that the milk banks are run by SCBU nurses who do so in their "spare time" (haha). They don't have the time or resources to promote it at all which is a real shame.

Of course, one option is to do some promotion ourselves. I have a poster that I put all over my area (eg in Mothercare, post office windows, childrens' centres, printed in the local NCT magazine etc) and it is a good way to recruit donors. It would also encourage parents to look at their options if they do have a baby in SCBU. Anyone is welcome to msg me if they want a copy of the poster.

organiccarrotcake Fri 24-Jun-11 13:31:02

nannyl Mums don't have to have an oversupply to donate, although the ability to easily express is obviously a huge advantage! Your body will make enough milk for both the donation and your baby so that's not a problem.

organiccarrotcake Fri 24-Jun-11 15:16:29

LiegeAndLief I love what you wrote about appreciating donor milk smile Makes me feel what I do is worthwhile smile

I would like to point out, though, that it's not normal to not be asked to do blood tests (although one milk bank doesn't as they pasteurise it and don't feel it's necessary) and also it's not normal to accept milk from a mum taking meds for high blood pressure - not sure why they accepted that TBH, although there may well have been a specific reason in your case. But normally it's not done.

WRT the testing, mums are blood tested before donating because the antenatal tests don't include HTLV or Hep. The milk is pasteurised anyway so it's absolutely safe, but I didn't want any readers here to assume that this was normal practise. It's not, it's just how one milk bank does it.

KTisPG Fri 24-Jun-11 15:32:06

Nanyl I donated to the West Yorks hospital milkbank with DS three years ago. I used to express at his breakfast feed and would get about 100ml every day once my supply was established. Every drop really does count as some of the premmies only take 10ml per feed. I still support them by collecting donated milk from donors in my area and delivering it to the hospital. PM me if you need any more info/contact details etc

organiccarrotcake Fri 24-Jun-11 15:40:06

KT is that the Halifax hospital? If so, I would love to know what you do about collecting milk and in which area. I cover Wakefield and it would be good to build up those contacts.

KTisPG Fri 24-Jun-11 19:54:31

Yes it is organic - I cover Huddersfield area and link in with the volunteers covering Calderdale. I have an arrangement with the hospital milkbank coordinator whereby she calls me whenever she has new donor mums in my areas and I (or anyone else I can rope in!) collect the milk from them and deliver it to CRH.

naturalbaby Fri 24-Jun-11 20:12:55

I was just thinking about this last night but my closest hospital with a milk bank is still bit of a trek. i also only have a manual pump but could get 4 or 5 oz a day, but my baby is nearly 5 months so may be a bit late now. will email the hospital anyway and ask to see what they say.

i was reading about eats on feets last night but that just seems to be individuals contacting eachother direct rather than feeding nicu babies in hospital so wasn't sure about going down that route.

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