Pumping & Paying It Forward

Pumping & paying it forward - speaking with milk donor, Andrea Doyle

Pumping and paying it forward! Speaking with and sharing milk donor Andrea’s story . . .

On those New England roots . . .

I’m originally from New Hampshire but have lived in Concord, Massachusetts with my husband, Mike, since 2015. In addition to being a proud mom to my 17 month old, Ailis, I previously spent more than a decade working as a project manager in financial services.

On welcoming baby Ailis into the world . . .

Ailis was born at Emerson Hospital’s Clough Birthing Center on November 14, 2022. Arriving nine days earlier than expected, she definitely took us by surprise. Weighing a healthy six pounds, nine ounces, we were thrilled to finally meet our daughter. Of course, as happy a time as this was, we had our challenges.

On bumpy breastfeeding journeys and the many benefits of donor milk . . .

My story is not unique. I had taken a class on breastfeeding prior to giving birth, but (like so many new mothers) I was not at all prepared for how difficult it would be. Born just nine days early, Ailis was happy and healthy, but it took a while for my milk supply to catch up to her needs. Having always planned to breastfeed my daughter, I was caught off guard when it did not come as easily as expected.

Thankfully, Barb, our amazing lactation consultant at Emerson Hospital, took the time to explain my options. She introduced the concept of donor milk from Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. Knowing that I would still be able to provide the best possible nutrition for my daughter – particularly in those earliest days – was a huge relief. Just a few days later, my milk supply had increased but that wasn’t the end of our breastfeeding journey.

Despite continued work with our lactation consultant, Ailis was never able to properly latch. As a result, I was pumping in the hospital – something I never expected. Due to the consistent challenges with feeding my daughter, we were told we may need to extend our hospital stay. Luckily, Barb and our other incredible nurse, Vicki, worked together to develop a plan so we could go home. I would continue pumping (on a near around the clock schedule!) while supplementing with donor milk. Of course, Ailis and I would also continue to work closely with a lactation consultant.

On power pumping – and becoming a hero to families in need. . .

Despite all our best efforts, Ailis was never able to latch properly. As a result, feeding at the breast wasn’t an option for us. Now exclusively pumping, it wasn’t long before I developed an oversupply. After maxing out our kitchen freezer, I upgraded to a deep freezer. Once that began to fill up, I knew I had more than enough milk to both feed our daughter and other babies in need. 

Having an oversupply has its benefits. Chief among them? Knowing that I would be able to give back to the same organization that helped me through the short, but stressful period when I was unable to feed my baby my own milk.

I’m very happy to say I was able to donate roughly 900 ounces of milk to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast. We’re extremely fortunate to not have first hand experience with the NICU (where much donor milk is used). That said, I have friends who have experienced long NICU stays, so I have great compassion for anyone who finds themselves in this situation. In addition to donating my milk, I have crocheted several NICU blankets for a wonderful organization called ‘Knots of Love.’

On the gift of giving back . . .

The process of becoming a milk donor was very straightforward. The team at Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast was super helpful in answering my questions and streamlining everything. They were also very accommodating when it came to coordinating my milk donation drop-off. (Major shout out to our incredible intake and shipping teams!)

I’m thrilled to support families in need as well as those who could benefit from “bridge milk” while their milk supply is still developing. It’s extremely rewarding to know the milk that was sitting unused in my freezer is being redirected to those who will benefit from it the most. I would encourage anyone with excess milk to see if they can become a milk donor. 

On life today . . .

Every day with Ailis is an adventure. She’s a bundle of energy and loves music – as well as our cat, Mittens. I’m confident that the donor milk that I received from the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast put my daughter and I on the path to successfully breastfeed for a year. We’re so thankful for the support and glad to have been able to pay it forward with our own donation.

Become a milk donor, become a hero. Learn more about our simple four step process and the huge difference your milk could make for newborns in need.

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