What does it mean to be a bereaved milk donor?
Also called a milk mom, she has made the choice to pump her milk to donate after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or other baby loss.
Why is donating helpful?
I talked to Amy Anderson, bereaved mother to baby Bryson, who shared her story, and how it was healing to her family to donate in her son’s memory. “As a bereaved mother, it became mandatory that I learn the art of holding infinite space for both gratitude and grief. This process quickly ensued after my Bryson succumbed to a 20-week battle for life from the womb. I was completely numb and reality only hit when my body revealed its profound grief through endless, agonizing tears of gold. I felt I had lost everything, including hopes, dreams, and my perfectly envisioned future.”
“Professionals had failed to acknowledge that my body couldn’t recognize that the baby it birthed would never consume nature’s nourishment; on the contrary, my body quickly began to produce pre-term milk rich with extra nutrients specifically designed to sustain the life of a significantly premature baby.”
“Against doctor’s recommendations, I began expressing to soothe my massive engorgement and an unexpected release encompassed me… I had a fleeting moment of clarity in which my mind, body and soul converged and altered my perspective forever. I suddenly realized that I still had a purpose as his mom. Through continuous research, I discovered there was an abundant need for donor breast milk, especially in regards to the best practices of care used to save the lives of premature infants.”
“During my time of sorrow and tragedy, it became apparent that this gift of liquid gold, initially intended for my son, would enable other families to sing out in triumph. Every drop of his nearly 92 gallons of milk was expressed with unconditional love which proved to be medicinal and life-saving for countless fragile infants. Embracing Bryson’s gift by becoming a breast milk donor has blessed me infinitely by nurturing my healing process, developing incredible supports, and fostering a love beyond all time and space. His short life had great purpose and it is through the act of breast milk donation that his death will never overshadow his life!”
“I, unfortunately, had to lead myself blindly through my body’s postpartum pains due to commonly held misconceptions, inexperience in the realm of lactation after loss, and societal views toward pregnancy and infant loss. Thanks to my journey, however, I have become passionate about advocating for the rights of bereaved mothers in addition to spreading awareness and education about baby loss grief, lactation after loss, and the option of donating through grief. I am also dedicated to changing the terminology of the federal law to be formally inclusive of all lactating women (apparently bereaved and surrogate mothers are overlooked in the federal mandate). I will forever embrace my newfound purpose with great passion as an expression of a mother’s undying love.”
– Amy Anderson
Why is breastmilk essential for an infant in need?
- Human milk is full of live antibacterial agents not found in formula
Human milk is full of live antiviral agents not found in formula
Many hospitals use donor milk for cases like:
Mothers being separated from infants for situations like surgery
Contraindicated medicines mother is taking (ex: chemo)
When the baby’s mother passes away
Why should you find a lactation specialist?
After miscarriage, stillbirth, or other baby loss, it’s important to reach out to your local resources regarding pumping to maintain supply or even to reduce supply for comfort and to minimize the likelihood of plugged ducts and mastitis (an infection of the breast). If you’re not sure who your local breastfeeding specialist is, you can find out what kind of specialist you need here.
Next, I’ll be talking to Rebecca, Lactation Consultant at bluebirdpostpartum.com
“My name is Rebecca. I am an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, Postpartum Doula, Bereavement Doula, and a Child Passenger Safety Technician. A few years ago a mother contacted me. She had recently lost her baby, her milk had come in, and she could not find support. It occurred to me then that even with all my training, I had come across very little information on how to support families when they had suffered a loss. I sought out resources so that I was better able to help these families with their lactation needs, and I also completed bereavement training so that I was better prepared to communicate with these families. Lactation can start early, even with birth around 20 weeks. Families need to be able to access resources quick the unexpected occurs. Having a resource guide that contains information for bereaved families is a great way to help make support and resources more accessible.”
What are some resources beyond your local community?
How does a bereaved parent go about getting an Ardo pump to donate milk after the loss of their baby?
Mothers can donate their milk, in any quantity, to any Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) depot, where Ardo pumps will be making breast pumps available to. In addition to free double-electric Ardo breast pumps, Ardo has a few Lactation Consultants on board who have offered their services free of charge for remote assistance.
For more information regarding this program, please email: [email protected]
You will be supported WITHOUT judgment. We can help guide you to local lactation resources including a free double-electric pump if you’d like to consider pumping as part of your healing process and to donate milk to HMBANA milk banks. Remember, no amount of milk is too little. There is no fee to donate. There is no minimum amount to donate. We are here for you.