Sarah’s Story: Deciding to Pump Anyway

Sarah Rizzo didn’t plan to offer her baby a bottle, but she decided to pump anyway. Here’s why.

Breast milk donation is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but I didn’t prioritize it. My first two babies didn’t ever take bottles, so pumping seemed like a waste. If I had a surplus stash, I would have donated, but we never got to that point.

When my third baby was born, our hospital, Sturdy Memorial Hospital, had just started stocking human donor milk, and as it turned out, my baby had low glucose and seemed like she was going to need the donor milk supplement. Though my colostrum did its job to get her in the normal range, I was so thankful to have a bottle on standby, just in case. This experience seemed like a sign that it was time for me to commit to donating.

I never even really attempted bottle feeding her, but I decided to pump anyway—this time solely for the purpose of donating. It’s been a slow process and I’ve learned a lot about pumping along the way. It makes me wonder if I would have persisted those first two times if I had abandoned my electric pumps and gone with a manual pump and hand expressing instead. I have much better luck with those methods and I feel a lot less like a cow when I’m not hooked up to a machine.

Milk donation takes teamwork

Now let’s talk about the teamwork that goes into this process. I partnered with Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, knowing they are accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). Once I reached out, they explained that the first donation needed to be 150 ounces pumped within a seven-month timeframe and I could start the screening process after reaching that goal. The Donor Intake Coordinators on staff were excellent at answering questions throughout the process, as I wanted to make sure any medications I took would not get in the way of donating. Once I had the right amount stored, I had a full health screening, including labs. They do their due diligence to make sure donor milk is safe to share with babies in need!

Once I had the official green light to donate, they let me know that a women’s motorcycle group volunteers to pick up donations to bring them to the milk bank for processing. How cool! Now my milk is out the door with someone from Bikers for Babies and I’m ready to start pumping my next 100 ounces! 170ish ounces down, hopefully many more to go!

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.