Our staff was excited to welcome lactation consultant and NICU nurse Allison Grinsell and baby Rayla to the milk bank one day when they dropped off their first donation. We asked Allison about her milk donation experience.
Allison, tell us a little about your background.
I have been a NICU nurse for almost 10 years and have worked at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) for eight years. In 2017 I became a CLC and in 2020 I got my IBCLC. Donor breast milk has been an integral part of my practice and I give it to premature and term babies every day I work.
What would you like to share about your pregnancy and breastfeeding experiences?
I delivered Rayla at 37 weeks and breastfeeding was painful from the start. She had jaundice, needed phototherapy, and required supplementation with formula until my milk came in (the hospital where I gave birth didn’t offer donor milk to healthy infants). I began pumping almost immediately due to the supplementation and my milk came in on day five. She did not latch well, and after the help of some wonderful IBCLCs, we discovered she had a tongue tie. At six weeks she had her tongue tie released and breastfeeding became much easier, but I had already created a very hard-to-manage oversupply.
Breastfeeding and providing breast milk is the hardest thing I have ever done. I am so thankful to my family for helping me provide breast milk through countless pump part washings, encouragement, and love! Through this experience I have gained a whole new perspective as a lactation consultant and have the utmost respect for our pumping moms in the NICU.
How did you first learn about milk donation?
I have known about breast milk donation since becoming a nurse. It is vital to the health of premature babies. Research shows that premature babies who receive donor milk versus formula are less likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis, a deadly intestinal disease for premature babies. I have been blessed by working at MGH and seeing both preterm and term babies reap the benefits of donor milk.
What can you tell us about your milk donation experience?
As my milk stash kept growing, I quickly realized that Rayla would never drink all of this milk now that she was breastfeeding well. I immediately thought of the NICU babies I work with and how my breast milk could help the very patients I work with. I called the milk bank, went through the initial intake call, and learned I was eligible. It was an easy process, and I was able to get my blood drawn and start donating.
I dropped my first 300 ounces off directly at the milk bank and was able to get a tour, which was a very full circle experience. I hope to keep donating as Rayla gets older and doesn’t need the excess milk piling up!
What would you like others to know about milk donation?
I would like others to know how lifesaving a donation of breast milk can be. Donor milk has a direct correlation to saving premature babies’ lives. I see this firsthand. I am so proud to be a NICU nurse, lactation consultant, and now milk donor!
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.