Are you looking for a way to provide crucial support to babies and families in need, give back to your community, and put your surplus breast milk to good use? Donating your milk to a mother’s milk bank is a rewarding process that will help you accomplish all those things and more.
There are several reasons why a woman might find herself in a position to become a breastmilk donor. A surrogate mother with excess breastmilk, for example, might be interested in donating the milk her body will naturally produce after delivery.
Bereaved mothers may find some comfort in their ability to help newborns in need by donating the mother’s own milk supply. And for the significant percentage of women whose bodies produce milk in excess of what their child will consume, breast milk donation is a generous and straightforward way to ensure that excess milk does not go to waste.
There are many factors to consider as you evaluate whether breast milk donation is the right option for you. As you decide, keep in mind the following ten reasons why donating breast milk is a wonderful option for women with excess milk.
Pediatricians Agree: Breast Milk Is the Most Nutritious Food for Infants
When it comes to nutrients, breast milk is the total package; no formula currently available can match breast milk's nutrition and health benefits.
The composition and nutrient content of breast milk changes over time. This ensures that a nursing baby receives the best possible nutrition even while their nutrients and calories change as they grow.
Human milk contains all of the essential vitamins for a baby, and proteins, fats, and carbohydrates for their growing body. Milk is also very high in water content, which is why it’s essential to stay hydrated while lactating.
Donating your own milk can help babies' lives and have access to the life-sustaining benefits and high nutrition content of breast milk.
Lactating Is Good for You, Too
In addition to benefiting an infant, allowing your body’s lactation cycle to run its course may provide long-term health benefits for you as well.
Plus, an excess of milk can lead to uncomfortable engorgement or even plugged milk ducts. Thus, making the generous choice to donate your milk can help keep you healthy!
Help More Infants Achieve a Healthy Start in Life
Only one in four infants in the United States is nursed exclusively, and infants from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds are even less likely to be breastfed.
There are many reasons for this, but donating your breast milk is a great way to help more infants access the healthy head-start in life that breastfeeding provides.
Help Prevent Unnecessary Hospitalizations
The CDC estimates that low breastfeeding rates in the US lead to three billion dollars of avoidable medical costs every year. Your donated breast milk can help a family avoid heavy medical bills and keep their precious little one healthy.
Help Moms Who Have Trouble Breastfeeding
Unfortunately, an assortment of conditions or circumstances might prevent a mother from being able to breastfeed her newborn child.
Women who cannot lactate, live with HIV infection or other viruses, deal with addiction, or have a condition requiring certain kinds of regular medication might be unable to breastfeed.
Your donated breast milk will help these women provide their little ones with all the life-changing health benefits of breast milk, despite not being able to lactate themselves.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Some premature infants only need an ounce of milk or less with every feeding. Therefore, you don’t need to donate a large volume of milk to make a big impact; any amount of milk will make a positive difference for a baby in need.
Help Your Milk Bank Expand Their Impact
Usually, milk banks provide breast milk by prescription to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). However, if it happens that your milk bank has a steady supply of milk, they will be able to expand their reach and provide milk to other babies in need, too, and have a bigger impact in your community.
Milk Donation Doesn’t Have To Be Challenging
Most milk banks will coordinate donations with you and take care of the details, so that all you have to do is take care of yourself and pump. With a good support network, nothing is standing between you and making a huge difference in the life of a newborn in need.
Milk Donation Is a Generous and Accessible Option
Considering all this, it’s clear that a milk donation is a great option for women with excess milk and big hearts. If you’re ready to begin the milk-donation process, here are some tips to get you started on the path to helping some babies in need.
Before you do anything else, it is a good idea to make sure that you are an eligible milk donor. Most healthy women fit the criteria to donate milk, but a few things might prevent you from donating.
For example, most milk banks won’t accept donations from women who’ve used recreational drugs within the last year, who’ve had certain medical procedures, or who’ve recently traveled abroad, among other reasons.
In addition, some banks have a minimum required quantity of milk that they will accept. Most banks will determine eligibility on an individual basis. The best way to determine whether you can donate is to identify your local milk bank and give them a call or fill out their online questionnaire.
Once you’ve chosen a milk bank to work with and verified that you’re eligible to donate, you can begin the donation process! It’s important to freeze all of the milk you want to save within 48 hours of pumping.
Your milk bank will have specific instructions to guide you through packaging your milk and sending it off into the world to help babies in need.
Make Greater Than Part of Your Donation Journey
Throughout the milk donation process, it’s important to take good care of yourself. Lactation is demanding on the body; get plenty of rest, eat well, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol and tobacco products.
It’s a good idea to consume healthy, balanced snacks to keep your energy up throughout the day–and as you will lose lots of water through lactation, a healthy, electrolyte-fortified beverage designed for lactating women is a great idea, too.
Congratulations on deciding to donate your breast milk. Your donation will make a world of difference to babies and families in need. Enjoy your journey, and take care of yourself along the way!
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