National Breastfeeding Month
Breastfeeding, work, and milk donation: Making it work … and then some
By Naomi Bar-Yam, Ph.D., Executive Director, MMBNE
We are wrapping up our celebration of National Breastfeeding Month by sharing some of the challenges and joys of milk donation and employment. Thanks to Karen Parnapy-Armstrong, Wyatt’s mom (and soon Jason’s), for sharing her story, which gives a moment-to-moment glimpse of what it’s like to become a milk donor.
As a non-profit HMBANA milk bank, our donors’ and their families’ health always comes first. Donated milk must truly be extra milk that your baby doesn’t need. Take things one step at a time, and donate only as much as is comfortable.
Before having Wyatt January 16, 2013, I knew that I would be a breastfeeder. I set goals for myself for breastfeeding. My first goal was to nurse until I went back to work 11 weeks after he was born. After that it was a day by day goal. I did not want to feel like a failure if nursing while working did not work out for me. Well, it was a huge success!
Full freezer and no room for ice cream, Thanksgiving turkey or in Karen’s case, a deer, is often the motivation to call us. Throwing out milk is painful, we are delighted to free up your freezer space and help premature babies at the same time.
After a month or so my husband was upset that there was no more room in our freezers for my milk. That is when I began to look where I could donate. I talked to other milk banks that would not take my milk due to being insulin dependent. Livid is a nice way to describe how I felt. Then I stumbled on Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. You would take my milk even though I take insulin!!!! My husband was thrilled since he had to get a deer to fill that freezer! I choose this bank because of where my milk could go.
Even if there is no milk bank facility in your community, donating milk to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, or the HMBANA milk bank near you will support babies in your community.
I live near Malone NY (I can now say that since people know where it is on the map thanks to the inmate escape) and having my milk help babies in my area was huge for me. At that time, your bank would give milk to the Albany, NY area. Some babies born in Malone go there if they need some extra help.
For the smallest babies, 1 ounce is a full feed. 800 ounces goes a long way in the NICU.
The joy I got from donating my milk is indescribable! I was able to donate close to 800 ounces. This was a HUGE for me. The certificate you gave to me is in a frame hanging on the wall. That piece of paper means more to me than my college diploma. I nursed Wyatt for 13 months when I decided we would be done.
Not all moms are as lucky as Karen who could switch to a more breastfeeding friendly job. Talk with your employer, think together creatively. Pumping at work lasts a few months, and you are a valuable employee.
They changed my job duties at work and my lack of a schedule threw a huge kink in my nursing plans. Before I got pregnant with Wyatt’s brother, due July 20th, I decided to take a job that would not interfere with nursing Jason. I am so happy with my decision since nursing is so important to me. I truly feel if there is a will there is a way with nursing. It is such a blessing to be able to give such a wonder fluid to a baby. I am looking forward to nursing Jason and hope we are as much of a success as Wyatt and I were. Hoping to donate again!!! Thank you for all of your hard work you all do! The babies appreciate so much and show you by growing!!!!
Screening to become a breast milk donor is done through an easy four-step process. Once accepted for donation, milk can be shipped door-to-door or through one of our donor milk depots throughout the Northeast.