Feeding Babies: Mothers Helping Mothers

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Being a mother is never an easy job and will never be. But this generation of young moms has experienced it all in the last two years: parenting in a pandemic, online schooling, hepatitis outbreaks, daycare closures, and now a formula shortage. But one thing that has remained constant…mothers are continually helping other mothers. 

I have seen so much generosity over the last few years, but especially in the last several weeks when a formula shortage hit our nation. I have witnessed so many acts of kindness from mothers sharing in social media parent groups that they have extra formula or posting pictures of shelves at local grocery stores that have formula in stock in hopes to pick some up for another mom in need. I have also witnessed vulnerability in women asking for help in finding specialized formulas, knowing another mother will help.  

The Milk Bank

Another avenue many women have been turning to is The Milk Bank. Since 2005, over 7,000 mothers have been helping mothers (and babies) by supplying 5.2 million ounces of breastmilk. 81% of the donor milk goes to the most medically fragile babies in the NICU. The Milk Bank’s secondary goal is to help bridge the gap for women struggling with breastfeeding/milk supply, other various long-term medical reasons, or even the formula shortage. The Milk Bank provides 40 ounces of milk through their outpatient program without a prescription. Call The Milk Bank to find how to receive this milk at a location nearest to you or through shipment. 

A few weeks before the formula shortage, I started reminiscing about my past two children and the breastfeeding journey I had with them, thinking about all of the extra milk I produced and pumped through each experience. I especially thought about the first few months of my newborn’s life, as my breasts engorged to ungodly sizes, and I needed to express as much as I could for my own comfort and ease the flow to my infant. Towards the end of my breastfeeding journey with my second born, I was able to give away a lot of my extra milk to a friend who adopted a baby. But with my first child, I actually disposed of a sickening amount of breastmilk. Ounces upon ounces were thrown in the trash. Thinking of this now, it was selfish; it was naïve and lazy. I spent hours away from friends, family, coworkers, and of course my own baby to pump this milk. And not one little baby was able to use it. Not one single baby. 

So here I am, four years later, still licking my wounds. I knew there had to be a better option, and I couldn’t wait until the final weeks or even days of my milk expiring to do something. After remembering my conversation with The Milk Bank during our Indianapolis Mom’s Bloom event last fall, I decided to jump on their website to explore how I could be a milk donor. 

The Process to Donate

The 4-Step process seemed pretty simple, so I quickly filled out my information in the online form for Step 1, and waited for the next step. Literally within a business day, I had a friendly Donor Coordinator chatting with me. There was absolutely no pressure conveyed through the communication, as she just gave Step 2, which was a medical screener. I let that sit in my inbox for a few weeks, and once things slowed down with my newborn, I pulled the email back up. I easily referenced my online medical records to document what medications I had taken over the last few months due to some complications with my cesarean delivery, so having that information there made this step go much smoother. Step 3 was to get a blood sample at a local lab. Again, all I had to do was make my appointment. The Milk Bank covered the costs. Finally, Step 4 was the approval step, which meant…donation time. It was so simple, and now I know my extra milk my little guy does not need can go to other babies who are in desperate need of that “liquid gold.” 

No matter what path you’re on in life or whether you’re even trying to care for an infant, remember that in the world we live in, mothers need other mothers. It’s our job to work together to make sure our newest and cutest generation doesn’t suffer during a time of uncertainty.

What can YOU do to help? 

  • On the receiving end of the shortage? Call The Milk Bank for additional support at 317-536-1670 or Toll-free at 877-829-7470.
  • Donate to The Milk Bank if you can. The process takes on average 32 days, so start the process now. 
  • Post on Social Media when you find extra formula
  • Post on Social Media The Milk Bank’s website or this article to spread the word about their amazing services.
  • Give away extra (non-expired) formula. 
  • Check in with other mothers with children under the age of one.

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