MelroseWakefield Healthcare Baby Café Empowers Milk Recipient to Become Milk Donor

MelroseWakefield Healthcare Baby Café grand opening

Lisa tells her story of receiving milk at MelroseWakefield Hospital, then going on to donate milk twice, with the support of the Baby Café.

When I was 35 weeks pregnant, my water broke just as I had walked out the door to watch the town’s Fourth of July Parade. I immediately contacted my obstetrician, who told us to go to the hospital, so we packed our bags and got in the car. We were welcomed by an amazing team of labor and delivery staff, who, after testing, confirmed that I would be staying at the hospital to have my baby! My obstetrician arrived shortly thereafter and gave a summary of things to expect during my labor and delivery. A neonatologist also came into the room to tell us about potential risks and possible medical conditions for a late preterm baby. All of the staff were so calm, friendly, and knowledgeable, which helped decrease our anxiety and made my husband and me feel prepared and safe under their care.

Receiving donor milk in the hospital

Our sweet baby boy was born early the next morning, and was immediately admitted to the hospital’s Level II Special Care Nursery due to hypoglycemia and respiratory distress. Fortunately, within a few hours of treatment, both issues resolved and he was medically stable. The focus then shifted to feeding and proper weight gain. Initial attempts at breastfeeding were very challenging. He had a poor latch and fatigued very quickly, so a nasogastric tube was inserted for feedings. Shortly after giving birth, I had been instructed to pump every two to three hours, but he needed extra nutrition until my milk fully came in.

One of the MelroseWakefield nurses asked us if we wanted to supplement with donor breast milk or formula. I had never heard of donor breast milk before, but the nurses educated me about its safety and benefits, especially for premature babies, which made the decision very easy. Donor breast milk provided our baby with the best possible nutrition until I was able to produce enough milk for all of his feedings. During his feeding times, I attempted breastfeeding (unless he was too fatigued), and then would hold him skin-to-skin while he received my pumped milk through the nasogastric tube. After that, I then pumped to maintain my supply, as he wasn’t able to get a full feed while nursing. By the time he was discharged a few weeks later, I had a small freezer stash of milk to bring home.

Support and success at the Baby Café

Once home, I continued a similar feeding routine where I nursed, pumped, and then bottle-fed some of the expressed milk until he was full. During this time, I continued to add a little more milk to my freezer stash each day. I also attended the MelroseWakefield Healthcare Baby Café, a weekly drop-in breastfeeding support group where I received such great help with the challenges I encountered while nursing. The positive and empowering environment at Baby Café kept me motivated to work on breastfeeding. After a few months of hard work, pain, mastitis, and many tears along the way, I reached my goal of being able to efficiently breastfeed my baby; it was one of my most rewarding accomplishments! I couldn’t have done it without the incredible support from my husband, lactation consultants, nurses, family, friends, and the Baby Café!

Friendly staff at the milk bank

mom and baby at milk bank
Visiting the milk bank

I first learned about Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast from one of the lactation consultants during group conversation at Baby Café. I had extra frozen milk from all the pumping I had done in the first few months postpartum, so I called to learn more about becoming a milk donor. Everyone I spoke with was so friendly. After getting approved, I dropped off my milk in person since I lived relatively close. I met some of the staff and learned more about the milk bank. My little guy loved seeing the lab in action, too!

Milk depot opens at Baby Café

mom and baby at milk depot opening
Speaking at the depot grand opening

About one year after my son was born, the MelroseWakefield Healthcare Baby Café was approved to become a milk depot for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. This meant that local moms, once approved through the milk bank, could bring their milk to the Baby Café for it to be safely stored and transported to the milk bank. Along with increased convenience, it also helped bring more awareness to moms and the community about the option to donate breast milk. I attended the grand opening event and spoke about my baby receiving donor breast milk, and then becoming a milk donor. It was so special to be able to share my story and thank the MelroseWakefield lactation consultants in person for all their help, education, and encouragement!

baby with milk bank bag
Lisa’s second donor baby!

Donating milk with a second baby

This summer, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I really wanted to donate milk again, but knew her needs came first. Fortunately, she breastfed well and I was able to collect enough milk for donation using a Haakaa while nursing before my milk regulated. I am so appreciative for the donor breast milk my son received, and also so happy to pay it forward by donating milk with each of my babies to help other babies in need! Thank you, Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, for all your great work!

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