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.
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.
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.
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: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/
Find a breastmilk donor/recipient: Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB)