“When I first had my son in July of 2018, I thought I had this mom thing down pat. As it turns out, there’s a lot they don’t prepare you for once you leave the hospital. Changing diapers and giving baths? No problem. Rocking them, reading to them, swaddling them, I had that down. Breastfeeding…. what? Let me start off by saying that I didn’t even know breastfeeding existed until I was 16 years old, that’s how uncommon and not talked about it was in my area. I was extremely unprepared for that part of motherhood. In the hospital I delivered to, they hold the ‘Baby Friendly’ status, which means they implement the ‘Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding,’ one of which is to train all health care staff with the skills to properly guide and teach mothers how to nurse their babies. Without the nurses in the hospital lending helping hands, I doubt that I would have been successful.
One common misconception that I had was that I needed to pump on top of nursing my baby. I thought having a full freezer of breast milk somehow equated to how successful you were at breastfeeding, so I made that my goal. I would pump whichever side I wasn’t nursing on and I think that is one of the major causes of my extreme oversupply and hyperlactation. I quickly filled up my freezer that was attached to our fridge, which led to me filling up our deep freezer, which then led me on my search for a freezer solely for my breast milk stash. I shared a photo on my Snapchat stories of my frozen milk stash and within minutes I received a message from our wedding photographer asking if I would ever consider donating some of my milk. She had a friend who had just adopted a little baby girl and was looking for a milk donor. I had no idea what I was ever going to do with the milk that I had stored but I had no idea that another mom would actually want it for their own child.
I was headed back to my hometown for the weekend so I packed up the biggest cooler I could and brought some back with me. Meeting the mother and hearing her testimony of adoption and how blessed she felt to be receiving the breast milk truly made my heart so incredibly happy. It was a high like I had never experienced before. That’s the moment that I knew that this was something that was going to be such a huge part of my life. I was able to help feed that little girl until she turned a year old and it was such an amazing feeling knowing that something my body created was able to nourish and help grow another human being other than my own!
After that, I started looking into helping even more babies thrive. I learned that there are two very popular Facebook milk sharing pages one of which is ‘Human Milk for Human Babies’ and every state in the USA has their own. Every time I would go on vacation I would request to join that states specific milk sharing page and donate to local women in that area. With the help of social media I have been able to feed babies in not only Michigan where I live but also California, Louisiana, and Georgia.
When my son was around a year old, I felt the calling to donate to premature babies after learning that when fed a diet consisting of 100% human milk, they drastically reduce their risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC for short. I started to seek out milk banks in my area and found the HMBANA accredited Bronson’s Mothers Milk Bank in Kalamazoo. In order to become a milk donor for premature infants in the hospital, they required an interview, medical history of both mine and my children, and my bloodwork. Once you complete the process, they shipped a cooler to my front door; I filled it up, and sent it on its way back to their milk bank. Once it arrives, they pasteurize it and send it on its way to the hospitals around the state. I donated to that milk bank for a short time before finding the bank to which I currently donate.
I gave birth to my daughter, Sutton, in August of 2020. After a brief hiatus away from donating, I was able to start up again with the Tiny Treasures Milk Bank at Prolacta Bioscience. Prolacta turns the breast milk we send in into human milk fortifiers for micro preemies which are any babies under 3 pounds at their birth. These are extremely fragile infants and thrive on breast milk. The Prolacta donor requirements are a little stricter than other milk banks but it is so worth it. In order to donate to them, Tiny Treasures Milk Bank requires you fill out a lengthy application. After this is done, your doctor and child’s doctor needs to sign paperwork about your and your baby’s health. After this, you send in a cheek swab for a DNA sample. Once that is complete, you need to have bloodwork taken, and finally, every freezer you are using for storing your breast milk needs to have the temperatures taken and the recordings sent in. Once this is all complete, you are able to start storing your milk for donations. Every ounce pumped is being sent in for extremely fragile premature infants so it is extremely important to make sure everything stays sterile. After every pump session, I wash my pump parts with soap and water and immediately put them in my sterilizer.
On average, I pump between 60 and 84 ounces each day between three pump sessions. Every ounce that I pump out gets donated and since I am able to stay home with my kids, I am able to nurse my daughter on demand throughout the day. She sleeps through the night now and has since she was two weeks old (I’m not sure how or why but we are so grateful since our two year old still wakes up almost every night still). I pump after I lay her down at night, once in the middle of the night, and once when I wake up for the day. With my hyperlactation, I usually pump between 24 and 36 ounces in each session. The average output for a woman is between 2 and 4 ounces total, so you can imagine how extreme my case is. It’s a huge blessing though and every box I ship out brings me an extreme amount of joy. I love knowing that in a small way, I am helping other mothers not worry about where their baby’s next meal is coming from. Because, as a mother, we don’t need anything else to worry about!
Over the last two and a half years I have become so passionate about breast milk and its amazing benefits that on top of donating, I’ve also become a certified lactation counselor (CLC) so even when I can’t help other moms and babies with my own milk, I can help them along their own breastfeeding journey, whatever that may look like for them. My initial goal with donating was five thousand ounces. With my son, Eli, I was able to donate 7,537.5 ounces. I’ve upped my goal with my five month old, Sutton, to 10,000 ounces and currently have donated 6,837.5 ounces since giving birth to her. In total, I’ve been able to donate 14,375 ounces of breast milk which has helped to feed hundreds of babies around the nation. If you’re trying to get a better visual of how much milk that is, it’s 112.3 gallons! My ideal plan is to breastfeed her until she reaches two years old as well so I’m hoping that I over the next year and a half, I am able to build even more amazing bonds between the mothers that I am blessed to donate to and ship out many more coolers to the milk bank as well!
So, to the nurses in the hospital that helped me initially, to my kids, to my husband, and every family member and friend, and especially our wedding photographer, Stacy, who has helped me along this journey and supported me with words, encouragement, or a helping hand, thank you! I would never have been able to do this without everyone’s support! Cheers to 2021 and normalizing milk sharing!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Taylor May from Frankenmuth, MI. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories about breastfeeding:
‘Breast is better,’ they said. I cried for days, unable to feed you. I heard I could never feel that connection with you, nor you with me, because I didn’t nurse you.’: Mom shares emotional breastfeeding struggle, ‘Did I love you any less?’
‘I breastfeed in front of my teens. May ALL teens see breasts whipped out in public and have the mystery of titties ruined for them.’: Former teacher mom calls for normalizing breastfeeding, ‘They can handle it’
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