We had to smile at this photo of baby Vaia, amazed at how much milk her mom can now produce! Thanks to her mom, Angelina, for sharing the photo and recounting her journey from receiving to donating milk.
I had never even heard of milk banks before my daughter was born. Our birthing experience had been traumatic, and my daughter needed treatment for extensive bruising and rising bilirubin levels. Our nurses encouraged us to consider two supplemental feeding options: formula or donated breast milk from a milk bank.
I had always planned on exclusively breastfeeding, but my body just wasn’t cooperating. In the first few days, I produced only a few measly drops. Though not totally uncommon for many new moms, it simply wasn’t enough to supplement my daughter’s feedings. After being educated and empowered by the nursing staff at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital Birth Center, we chose to supplement with donor milk and after almost a week at the hospital, we were ready to go home. I remember celebrating my last pumping session prior to discharge. I pumped 4 ml of breast milk.
Donor milk a bridge to breastfeeding
My milk did eventually come in, and now I truly can’t believe I was ever worried that it would. If we fast forward a bit, we’ll see that my daughter is 11 weeks old and I just celebrated my first Mother’s Day. Now, not only do I produce more than enough milk to adequately nourish my daughter, I produce enough to nourish others’ daughters (and sons) too. We’ve just donated 168 ounces of breast milk to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. To put this into perspective, that’s nearly 5,000 ml—remember when 4 ml was something to be celebrated??
And we’re not stopping there. My daughter is healthy and growing and perfect, and I credit her success largely to the availability of donor breast milk during such a critical time. We are honored and privileged to be able to give back to an organization that gave us so much in the early days.
Thank you to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast for supplementing our babies until we can do so ourselves.
We are forever grateful.
Angelina Kalafatis Finley and baby Vaia