World Milksharing Week — Recipient & Donor Story

September 29th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Name Withheld by request

My milksharing story starts with the natural birth of my son, Roby.  I suspected I might not have enough milk for him (I did not make enough to sustain my first child), but I had a natural birth so that I would increase the chances of breastfeeding success.  He latched on immediately after birth, and was breastfed on demand thereafter.

After about five weeks, it was clear he wasn’t gaining well.  I knew I had to supplement, but since this wasn’t my first rodeo, I knew I had to do all my supplementing at the breast.  I was not going to risk losing my breastfeeding relationship by using bottles or finger-feeding.  I used a Lact-Aid at first, and it worked for a couple of weeks, but then my son became very frustrated with it, it became too hard for him to suck the milk out of it, so I switched to the Medela SNS which had a faster flow.

Nursing with SNS
I had to learn how to use the device by trial-and-error.  It was NOT easy!  At the beginning I felt like I needed more than two hands to operate it, but soon I had figured out in what order to do things so that using the SNS was a methodical, smooth procedure.  At first, I filled it with formula, because I’d made peace with this almost certain eventuality before giving birth to him.  But then something incredible happened.  I discovered, through a friend of mine, a milksharing network with a funny name. (The name has since been changed to “Human Milk 4 Human Babies” — the name-change occurred in the months while I was using it).  I decided to put my request in and in a matter of hours, a local doula contacted me and put me in touch with 3 different breastmilk donors!  I was beside myself with joy and relief.

I contacted the donors, and arranged milk pick-ups.  I also found another donor in a neighboring state (also through the HM4HB network) that ended up donating gallons of breastmilk to my baby boy.  I fed it all to him through the SNS, and managed to preserve the breastfeeding relationship I had longed to have with my first baby but sadly never got to enjoy.

Close-up of Roby latched on with SNS tube. Note the thumb holding the tube in place.

Miraculously, after five months of supplemental feeding at the breast, my son rejected the SNS outright, just REFUSED to nurse with it, but still wanted to breastfeed.  I couldn’t believe it!  I was worried at first because he didn’t take bottles, so all of his nourishment was coming just from me!  Yet he didn’t lose weight.  He was gaining ever so slowly, but he was thankfully old enough that I could start to feed him some solid food.  So I did, and between that and the nursing on demand, he has managed to get in the 45th percentile for weight.  He is not the chunkiest baby I know, but he is doing well for himself.  Roby is now ten months old, very energetic, healthy, meeting all his milestones, and a good eater.  He still loves to nurse and looks to me for comfort and milk.  For me, it’s a dream come true, and would not have happened without the hard work and frustration of using the SNS for so many months.  It was well worth the effort, every bit of it.

Roby nursing contentedly. :)

I am and will always be eternally grateful to the donors that buoyed me through those arduous first months with their selfless gifts of milk to help me nourish my son.

But the story doesn’t end there…Recently another miracle occurred:  I donated 46 ounces of my own breastmilk to another mother in need, for her four-month-old baby.  Paying it forward is very gratifying.  If you are reading this as a recipient, I hope this story gives you hope that one day you may be able to not only nourish your baby completely with your own breasts and your own milk, but be able to help another baby in need with your milk, too!  It happened to me.

Find an at-breast supplementer:  Hygeia brand, Medela brand, Lact-Aid brand, DIY (video)

World Milksharing Week:

Find a breastmilk donor/recipient:  Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB)

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16 Responses to “World Milksharing Week — Recipient & Donor Story”

  1. CLove Says:

    I too have had milk production issues. My dd is 3, so we missed out on the help of HM4HB, however, I did meet someone via LLL who donated bags and bags of breast milk! It was godsend. It was not enough for all of her needs, but it sure feels good to know that she got what she did. Her last bottle was at 13mo. and she’s still nursing! (We used raw, organic, kosher, local goat milk to supplement my milk, about half of her needs.) I too know that if I have another child, I will be doing all of my supplementing at the breast as well. I think that’s the biggest mistake a mother with low milk production can make is to move the supplementation away from the breast, I was lucky with my first.

    Thank you for telling OUR story!

  2. MamaBear Says:

    Thank you, CLove, for commenting. I fully agree: the biggest mistake a mom with low production can make is to move the supplementation away from the breast. In fact, I think that’s an all-too-common mistake many moms new make, low-production or not. I don’t blame the moms, though. Society as a whole is at fault for that one.

    I am *thrilled* for you that you are still nursing your daughter! What a lucky little girl.

  3. Cat R. Says:

    Such a moving story! WTG Roby! And Mama! :)

  4. Jess Says:

    I too used a SNS - what a feat to accomplish! Thank you for sharing your story!

  5. MamaBear Says:

    Thank you, Cat and Jess, for commenting!

  6. Green Mommy Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! It gives precious hope! Your children are so lucky to have you as a mom!

  7. Rachel @ Clearly Speaking Says:

    Beautiful story!

  8. MamaBear Says:

    Green Mommy, thank you for commenting, and I will pass along your message!

  9. Petite Mama Says:

    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m currently dealing with extremely low milk supply with my first baby, she is currently 11 weeks. They suspect I have IGT because I do not get engorged or feel a let down. I’ve been using the SNS since four days after my daughter’s birth. I also had a natural birth (at home) to get breastfeeding off to a good start. I had no indication that I would have difficulty breastfeeding.

    I’m still trying to perfect my use of it. Were you able to side lie nurse at night? Did you have more than one SNS?

  10. MamaBear Says:

    Petite Mama, is it o.k. for me to give the mama whose story this is your email so she can contact you directly? Thanks for commenting!

  11. Canaan Says:

    I have a little story that sounds a little bit like yours.

    Back story… My first son who is now 6.5yrs nursed for 2.5yrs and weened himself. I managed to donate over 3 gallons due to oversupply.

    Fast forward to now… My second son born in late Feb of this yr never got the hang of nursing, so I cupped fed him for quite a while. Then I offered him a bottle after trying many different things that didnt work out. Ten days after my c-section I ended up with an infection and my friend and a friend of hers donated milk to my little one while I pumped and dumped til I was done with my meds. At that time my son really took well to a bottle and he never looked back.

    With the help of my sister who lives in Thailand, I was able to go on the med called Domperidone which helped me to boost my milk supply. Granted now I pump every 4 hours arouns the clock. ( I used to pump every 2hrs) I produce enough to share with a friend that has low supply. My son is now 7mo old and have been able to give away MANY gallons of milk to her baby girl and feed my own lil one. Not to mention, before she had her daughter I was able to give away 170 oz. to another mama cause my freezer was filling up.

    In another odd twist, my best friends daughter helped me unplug one of my milk ducts. The pump is great but not as good as a baby. Since my son isnt nursing, my friends daughter had a go at it and helped me out in a major way. Helped me from getting mastitious for sure.

  12. Petite Mama Says:

    That would be great! Sorry I didn’t realize that this wasn’t YOUR story.

  13. MamaBear Says:

    Oh Canaan,

    Thank you for sharing that. My heart goes out to your as an exclusive pumper. I have been there. It is a lonely and difficult place, but it is worth the effort. How wonderful that you were able to feed not only your baby, but another mother’s baby as well! And thank goodness you were able to cross-nurse to get your plug removed. I’ll bet that was a relief! Love to you. <3

  14. MamaBear Says:

    Petite Mama, she has your email. Hope you get the help you need!

  15. Amy @ Anktangle Says:

    I’ve read several stories now if paying it forward, and they’re all so amazing! I commend you one your perseverance with nursing through your supply issues. I love each and every one of these photos you’ve shared, as well. I’ve seen very few nursing photos with a SNS, and making those publis is so important so moms know there are other options besides bottle feeding with artificial milks. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  16. MamaBear Says:

    Amy, thank you so much for commenting.

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