Alex’s story: Two-time milk donor with oversupply helps preemies

 

Two-time milk donor Alex Carleton tagged us in an Instagram post where she talked about her oversupply and her commitment to helping preemies. We got in touch and asked her if she would share her story (and her adorable photos) on our blog.

Hi Alex! Tell us a little about your family.

I live in a tourist town with my boyfriend Donald, two kids under two, our black lab Celtic, two cats, and chickens. I am a receptionist at a law firm and Donald is a boat builder.

What would you like us to know about your breastfeeding experience?

Most would say I’ve had an “easy” and “perfect” breastfeeding experience, but those who have an oversupply like I do know that is not the case. I’m constantly uncomfortable, I always have to make plans around pumping, and I take my hand pump with me everywhere. Frequent clogged ducts, mastitis, leaking through nursing pads . . . I pump 10-12 ounces in 10 minutes if that gives you any idea of how much milk I make! When I first started breastfeeding my daughter, we used a nipple shield because she couldn’t handle my fast letdown. Now she can breastfeed without it, but she eats too much too fast and spits a lot up (she’s still gaining a ton of weight, though). The upside to all of this is that I am able to provide enough for my baby as well as other babies!

Was there someone in particular who helped you with breastfeeding?

The lactation consultants at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine have been a blessing. They are really easy to reach, always reply to their voicemails, and call to check in frequently after discussing any issues I have. I have been attending the Mother’s Milk support group, which has been a great experience. It’s a great opportunity to answer questions other moms have and talk about any problems or concerns. It’s also a great way to make friends! My mom friends have also been a huge blessing in my life. I did the Centering Class at Pen Bay with both pregnancies, which brought the most amazing, supportive people into my life.

How did you first learn about milk donation?

It was mentioned in Centering Class, then there was an information packet sent home with us from the hospital after I gave birth.

Why did you decide to donate milk?

With my first child I decided to donate milk because my freezer was filled top to bottom with milk and I needed to make some room. When I got pregnant with my second I knew I would probably have to do the same thing again. Then I went into preterm labor. I was taken by ambulance to a hospital two hours away from home, where I gave birth 5 weeks and 1 day early to my little 5 pound, 1 ounce preemie girl. The whole experience is a blur, but I very clearly remember signing a paper giving permission for my baby to have donor milk and thinking about all the milk I had donated. The next day I watched the nurses wheel a baby born at 25 weeks into the room next door to begin their long NICU journey, and found out the baby on the other side of us had been there for over 70 days. It was then I decided to set my goal to donate 1,000 ounces of milk, which I reached in 14 weeks!

How was the donor screening process?

Quick & easy!

Tell us something about your family’s experience with milk donation.

We have to be very careful when we go grocery shopping not to buy too many freezer items because there isn’t always room—unless I’ve just made a donation!

What would you like others to know about milk donation?

If you are able to, do it. The screening process might sound like a lot, but it’s really quick and easy to do! There’s no better feeling than filling up that box knowing you’re helping babies in need.

Anything else?

Thank you for all you do. Thank you for making the process so easy, being so quick to send another box when you receive a donation, and for providing storage bags!

 

Screening to become a breast milk donor is an easy four-step process. Once accepted for donation, milk can be shipped for free door-to-door or through one of our donor milk depots throughout the Northeast, including the depot at Pen Bay Medical Center.