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The International Breastfeeding Symbol » How to Make the Future Better

Archive for the 'How to Make the Future Better' Category


The Work Women Do

April 16th, 2012 by MamaBear

I have recently discovered Marilyn Waring, an incredibly intelligent Kiwi economist.  Terre Nash made a documentary about her in 1995 called Who’s Counting?  Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies, and Global Economics.   Most of what Waring speaks of in the film is still relevant today.  She is insightful, brilliant, and revolutionary.  You must watch this film.

Waring speaks about several topics, but most salient to me (other than the very relevant topic of how women around the world are literally undervalued) was how she ties GDP to the war machine. From the very inception of the GDP system, it was about funding war for the British Empire, and to this day the incentives upon which GDP is based skew what societies around the world consider “valuable.”  I’ll let Waring explain it, because she does it so much better than I could.  She manages to put into words so eloquently what you’ve probably intuitively understood all along but lacked the words for.  Watch the full-length documentary here.

Thank you, Marilyn Waring, for your brilliance and eloquence, and for the wonderful contributions you’ve made to the world of women, your constituents in New Zealand, and the wider world, too.  And thank you, Terre Nash, for giving her a voice.

Edited to add:  Peggy O’Mara, founder of Mothering magazine, recently wrote an article that very closely relates to this topic, the economic value of women and the contributions we make to society, and related it back to breastfeeding.  Titled “The Economic Value of Breastmilk,” her article explores the idea of giving monetary value to breastmilk itself, and therefore including it in GDP calculations.  At the end, she writes, “What do we need to do to add breast milk production to our Gross Domestic Product?”  Great question, Peggy.

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Facebook Headquarters Nurse-In, Menlo Park, CA, February 6, 2012. Be there.

February 3rd, 2012 by MamaBear

The world of breastfeeding has been negatively affected by the actions of none other than Facebook.  Facebook has been deleting breastfeeding photos with the justification that they are “obscene” or “sexually explicit.”  Oh, sure, the pictures must first get reported by an individual Facebook user, but after a process which involves “skin-detecting” technology, the pictures actually get reviewed by a human being, a Facebook employee.  It is this person who makes the final judgment call of whether or not to delete the photo, suspend the offending user’s account and/or delete the account altogether.  Since the deletions continue, it makes Facebook the responsible party, complicit in the bullying of breastfeeding moms.

Recently deleted by Facebook

Even though there is a recent buzz surrounding Facebook’s actions, this behavior on behalf of Facebook has been reportedly going on for years.  A Facebook page created by Kelli Roman and other fed-up breastfeeding mothers that used to have over 250,000 supporters was recently archived by Facebook, most of its members lost in the ether, despite being an active group.  The page was called “Hey Facebook, Breastfeeding is not obscene!” In 2008, another woman named Heather Farley helped to organize the first Facebook nurse-in in response to deletions of breastfeeding pictures on her account.

Now, another nurse-in at Facebook headquarters all over the world has been scheduled for February 6, 2012.  Emma Kwasnica, one of the most vocal and influential lactivists in the world and creator of the worldwide milksharing network HM4HB, has been a victim of Facebook’s bullying tactics several times, having had her account suspended on numerous occasions.  After having worldwide media coverage for her suspensions, Facebook has apologized for the deletions and has said repeatedly that they were “in error.”  However, Facebook continues to delete breastfeeding pictures and suspend/delete other users’ accounts, which she and her supporters actively protest against.  There is a page on Facebook to support her and her efforts in getting Facebook’s behavior rectified called “FB! Stop Harassing Emma Kwasnica over her breastfeeding pics.“  Despite its name, the end goal is to get Facebook to stop harassing ALL breastfeeding women, not just Kwasnica.

Deleted by Facebook

Curiously, the vast majority of these deletions run contrary to Facebook’s OWN policy, which states:  “Does Facebook allow photos of mothers breastfeeding?
Yes. We agree that breastfeeding is natural and beautiful, and we’re very glad to know that it is important for mothers to share their experiences with others on Facebook. The vast majority of these photos are compliant with our policies, and we will not take action on them.”

Facebook's breastfeeding policy

Recently deleted:

Recently deleted by Facebook

It’s becoming clearer and clearer, given Facebook’s history with breastfeeding photos, that either they are lying, or the employees are not all on the same page regarding what is acceptable on their own network.  This would be understandable over the course of maybe a few months, but YEARS?

If you live in California, please support the nurse-in there at Facebook Headquarters:

Menlo Park, CA (formerly listed as ‘Palo Alto’)

http://www.facebook.com/events/347380358607200/

1601 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA

Tremendous thanks to Jodine Chase, another victim of Facebook’s bullying tactics and event organizer/media coordinator for the protests against Facebook, who has kept meticulous track of the situation on her blog, Jodine’s World.  Thank you, Jodine!

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Chalyn’s Milksharing Story — Exclusive Pumper & Donor

October 5th, 2011 by MamaBear

The first-ever World Milksharing Week has passed, but there’s no reason to stop celebrating milksharing.  In that spirit, I am publishing yet another wonderful milksharing story.  Thank you SO much, Chalyn, for sharing it with the world.  For you exclusively pumping moms out there, it’s a must-read.

———————-

By:  Chalyn Myers (Joy N’ Birth doula)

It’s amazing how things work out sometimes.

I found myself, during my fourth pregnancy, once again facing a
vanished twin, once again sick and very depressed. I was sure that
this would be our last baby, and, while I didn’t want to go out this
way, I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it all again. So
I began to form my breastfeeding support team. I dealt with myriad
problems with my first three babies, and, if this was to be my last
chance, I wanted to do everything in my power to get it right. Fourth
time’s a charm, right?

But it was not to be. Not only did I have many of the same issues I’d
had with my other children, God saw fit to send me an even bigger
trial. I got booby trapped. She wasn’t gaining and had even lost some.
The pediatrician was making threats, and I got scared. And at the end
of a sudden, whirlwind weekend of pumping and supplementing with a
bottle, I found myself joining that small group of mothers who pump
exclusively for their babies.

feeding and double pumping

I pumped for about four months, putting bags and bags of milk into the
freezer every day.

stash after ~2 months of pumping

I was sad and frustrated and overwhelmed…and very
lonely. I knew mothers who had pumped, and I knew mothers who had
pumped exclusively, but I didn’t (and still don’t) know any mothers
who had pumped exclusively while also caring for older siblings. I
found a routine of sorts. I learned to feed her while double pumping.
I learned to pump and to feed and to pump and feed while homeschooling
and refereeing fights and fixing sandwiches.

pumping and babywearing; getting ready to start up the knitting machine

She was happy, and she was gaining, but I was still sad.

And then I discovered Emma Kwasnica and Human Milk 4 Human Babies. I
connected with a wonderful mother/baby in need, and soon after, the
whole family drove almost three hours to meet dad and big sister and
deliver my very first donation of about four gallons of breastmilk. I
was beside myself with joy. Not only was I able to use my trials to
help another family, but in doing so, I found some peace about the
loss of our second Baby B. If breastfeeding had worked out like I had
hoped, I would have lost the extra supply my body had prepared for
him. And if I had followed the ped’s instructions and supplemented
with formula instead of pumped breastmilk, I would never have had the
opportunity to connect with the one woman who was able to offer me
something I so desperately needed: healing.

first donation, approximately 4 gallons

Two months after my first donation, we met up again, both families. I
had another more than two gallons of breastmilk for them. It was
amazing beyond words to meet in person the mother and baby who were
able to make something positive out of our loss. I wasn’t able to give
more after that, though I recently celebrated one year of pumping and
have no plans to stop in the near future. I’ve even started a blog to
share my experiences. (http://ipumpthereforeiam.blogspot.com/) But I
am so thankful that I was able to give something. My only regret, I
think, is that I was afraid to try wet nursing the last time we were
all together. This has been such a healing, learning, growing process
though that I’m finally able to think about having more children.
Maybe I’ll try again after #5…

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World Milksharing Week — Jennifer’s Story, Donor

September 30th, 2011 by MamaBear

Jennifer Coias lives in Brazil.  On September 15, 2011 she gave birth to her beautiful, still baby boy, Jude Mateo Coias via HVBAC (home vaginal birth after cesarean).  Her son had passed away two weeks prior in utero.

Jude's footprints

 Jen writes of this experience:

Our baby boy, Jude Mateo Coias, was born still in our home at 12:30pm. He came in his own perfect timing and his birth was simply perfect. We are at peace that we could give him the birth he deserved and we intend to honor his memory by continuing to advocate for children’s rights in every way possible. Thank you to everyone, from the bottom of our hearts, for your love and support during this time. Our hearts might be broken but our spirit is intact and well thanks to our friends, family and the thousands of people who kept us in their thoughts. We love you all!

Jennifer has decided to pump her milk, Jude’s milk, and donate it to babies in need in Brazil through a milk bank.  So far, she’s donated several times, and continues to pump about 7-8 times a day to continue lactation in order to help other babies.

Jennifer's early milk, full of colostrum, donated September 22, 2011

In the first few weeks of pumping, her old Medela pump was not functioning well at all.  Jennifer had to attach the faceplate with a bungee cord just for it to work.  The above picture shows milk pumped that way, with the low-power pump.  Thankfully, she recently received a new pump, shields, and bags from a mother in the USA who was traveling to Brasilia and hand-delivered the items to her. She now donates to two human milk banks in Brasilia.

Jude's milk pumped on the weekend of Sept. 24-25, 2011

If you would like to send her breastmilk bags directly, or other small, non-fragile items, here is her address (keep in mind it could take several weeks to reach her):

Jennifer & Miguel Coias
Unit 7500, Box 1381
DPO, AA 34030-1381

There is a Facebook page dedicated to her and her family, titled Love & Light for Jennifer Coias & Family. Please visit it and see if you can help Jennifer.  Her family has had to spend thousands of dollars in unexpected funeral expenses. If you can help her, here is a direct link that will take you to a donation page for Jennifer Coias.  Thank you.

Heart for Jude

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

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


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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:  http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

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

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World Milksharing Week — Angela’s Story, Recipient

September 28th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Angela Brown Sanelle

Hello! I want to share my milk-sharing story!

Amelia was born March 30, and I was anticipating problems nursing because I knew ahead of time that I had inverted nipples. She couldn’t get latched at all the first three days, and after several meetings with a lactation consultant I was given a nipple shield to use. Looking back, I wish I would have tried harder to get her to latch directly, but I guess the shield was our best option at that point. I’d try to get her to nurse as much as she could, and then we used a tube and syringe to supplement every two hours using milk I had pumped. Around week three she started crying nonstop… for days. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Because she wasn’t back up to birthweight at that point, our pediatrician told us to start supplementing with formula. I had a very difficult time with that, but I realized that week that I wasn’t producing enough milk, and that she was basically starving. She was 5 weeks old before she got back up to birth weight. She struggled with colic, and reflux, and was super sensitive to every formula we tried… we finally ended up on a non-dairy, non-soy, predigested formula, and the first ingredient was corn syrup solids. I hated that I was stuck giving that crap to my baby and felt so guilty that I hadn’t been able to produce enough to nurse her sufficiently. At this point I was still nursing her, and then supplementing directly after. I wasn’t sure if something in my diet was bothering her, so I started cutting things out and ended up on a diet of chicken and rice for awhile.

A friend told me about Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and I was so desperate at that point I might have tried anything. Our first donor was a lady in LA, and I drove two hours each way to pick it up. What an amazing gift!!! Amelia being on a diet of 100% breast milk helped her to turn a corner. She started putting on weight, she was happier and less cranky, and her colic and reflux issues disappeared. Several people pointed out that she could have just grown out of the colic and the reflux, but I think its too coincidental that she got better as soon as we put her on all breast milk. I’m still nursing, and still pumping, and can provide for her about 1/4 of what she needs daily. Due to the generosity of ladies on this board, I’ve been able to continue feeding Amelia solely breastmilk for the majority of the time. I had to go back to formula for a couple days when our supply ran out once, and the crankiness returned - coincidence? I think not!

I know that God gives to us evenly so that we can share in the joy of both giving and receiving… it’s joyful to give, but I’ve learned humility and thankfulness in receiving, and have been incredibly blessed by those who have given. I’m ever grateful for this amazing gift that has bettered my daughter’s life!  My daughter is almost 6 mos old, and  I’ve been fortunate enough to receive donations from several women.  Knowing that we can provide her with breast milk due to the amazing generosity of mommies with extra is the hugest blessing ever… I don’t have words to describe how thankful we are!!!

Amelia, Milksharing Recipient

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

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

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World Milksharing Week — Cindy’s Story, Donor

September 27th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Cindy Collins

I went to Denmark for a midwifery conference in 2009. I was nursing my 14-month-old, who did not come along for the trip. I had planned to pump to maintain supply and find someone to donate to. Well on the way to the airport I realized I had forgotten my ENTIRE luggage!!! I fortunately put my pump in my carry-on bag. I had the basic essentials: currency, passport, pump, a shirt. I left all my proper storage EBM (expressed breastmilk) containers in my luggage. There wasn’t enough time to go home and get the luggage. So when I pumped I would store my breastmilk in various beverage bottles.

The funny part is, since my room did not come equipped with a refrigerator, I had to use the one at the front desk. I swear every time I brought down a new bottle of expressed breastmilk to be stored, which was stored in a glass refrigerator just behind the front desk that guests could see right into, there was a different person working. I felt the need to explain to each person working the desk I had not met before that I had forgotten my entire luggage back in the states and that I normally would store breastmilk in proper storage containers - not beverage bottles. It was humiliating. At the end of the week, a Danish mom came to get the milk, I apologized and explained to her also what had happened. We had a good laugh and she was grateful for the milk.

Since that trip I travel VERY light :O)

Cindy

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

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

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World Milksharing Week — Kristi’s Story, Recipient

September 26th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Kristi Autrey, Mom of 4 Wonderful Boys

I am a mom who suffers from IGT (insufficient glandular tissue), and have been able to nurse 4 babies to the best of my ability. Most moms in my shoes would have given up and gone to the bottle but I was determined to give my baby everything I could. As long as I made a drop of milk, I was going to give it to my baby! I went through a lot giving my baby the best I could: lots of doctors appointments for weight checks, lots of mouth from other people telling me to give up, that I was starving my baby to death. At times, I would think they were right. And then I would get up, latch my baby to my breast with the at-breast supplementer, and smile, for I was giving my baby the best.

Braden breastfeeding

I can only make about 15 ounces/day, maximum, so I have had to give formula in the past because I thought there was no other option. I have never had any one around me nurse. They all went straight to bottles, so the thought of getting milk from another mom was never a reality for me until I had my fourth son. He was 7 months old when I found milksharing. It has changed my life and the way I feel and think about formula feeding and why any mother would go straight to formula and not even try to nurse her baby. It is sad we live in a society that pushes formula as the mainstream way to feed a baby.  They always say “breast is best,” but shove formula in your face. Why could they not say, “There are donors who make too much milk for their babies and who are willing to give milk to yours if you can find one.” I think if they would, there would be more people breastfeeding their babies and the formula bottle generation would fade into the background. Then women at the store giving their babies a bottle would be the odd ones, not me, the woman with the nursing shawl and a baby attached to the breast while grocery shopping.

Braden nursing

My son was having serious issues with the formulas I thought I had to give him. He started on supplementary formula at 5 days old and from week 2 of his life went from pooping a lot to none at all. He would only poop once a week and when he did it was hard and black or dark forest green at times, but mostly solid black. He would throw up every time he had his bottle and it was not a little, it was half or more of what he ate. I was always covered in puke. His weight was very slow to gain and the doctor was constantly saying if he didn’t gain we were going to have to put him in the hospital. I had already been through this with 2 of my sons and history was repeating itself, but this time I had a computer and internet. When he was 5 months old we got it. Through talking to other breastfeeding moms who are like me and can only give their babies part of what they need, I got some support I badly needed. My husband and my mom were my only sources before and though they never gave up on me breastfeeding and I would not have made it without them, at times they would make me feel as if they were leaning towards the other side of giving up. Through these mom forums I found out about Eats on Feets, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and Milkshare.

As soon as I found out milksharing was an option I went straight to the sites and posted my need on all of them. It took me a couple of weeks to find a mom who could donate to me so when I got my first shipment in the mail it was like getting brand new diamond earrings. That box was pure gold in my eyes. I took it in the house and opened it as fast as I could, worried that the milk had thawed in transit. Oh, the relief when I opened the box and took the lid off the cooler:  frozen solid. Yes! It made it to me! I thawed 20 ounces that day and started on my journey of providing donor milk for my son. Within 3 days of starting the donor breastmilk he stopped throwing up. After a week he started pooping every other day, at first, but he was pooping and it was not hard. It did not hurt my baby. No more bleeding; just to do the most natural thing: poop.

The difference in my son is nothing short of a miracle. The women who have provided milk for my son are angels. They will be blessed for the gift they have given me and my son. I could never repay them for this. He is doing great! I learned after taking my son off the formula that he was allergic to it and that all the intestinal problems and throwing up was because of that. My doctor said they did not tell me that because there was no other option for me besides formula, so they just kept switching him to different formulas and giving me medicines to counteract the problems the formula caused. My son is 10 months old now and has been on donor milk for about 10 weeks. His tummy is healing great and he is a brand-new baby thanks to all the moms who have donated to my little man. I cannot thank them enough for their love and generosity. I wish I would have known about milksharing from the first day I had to give any of my babies formula. I am glad it is there when needed but there should be doctors and LC’s telling mothers that are having problems with formula that there is another option and that milksharing is the best option. Their hands are tied and cannot tell us, so I am trying to get the word out about milksharing, so no mom has to dump her milk because it went bad, and no baby in need has to suffer because of formula intolerance!! I am thankful for milksharing and all the sites that provide the place for us moms to connect to each other. :)

Happy, Healthy Milksharing Recipient

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB): http://www.hm4hb.net/

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World Milksharing Week — Michelle’s Story, Donor

September 25th, 2011 by MamaBear

 By: Michelle Pacheco

My milksharing journey started when my baby was about 5 months old. I had 2 freezers full of breastmilk, and I started to panic because we weren’t using it. I was continuing to add to it, and quickly running out of room. By December I started throwing milk out because someone told me that after 6 months it was no longer good. After that night and tons of guilt I started googling. I posted on a breastfeeding forum that was part of the message boards that I used while I was pregnant. Someone reccomended I donate it to a milk bank. I looked into it and when I found out about the pasteurizing and that they charge $2.00 an ounce I was sickened. I couldn’t believe they would charge so much for something that is FREE, and more importantly who on Earth could afford that? I came across a website called milkshare.com. I read through some posts and realized that this was the only option for me….and my milk.

I saw a post that really touched me, and I contacted the person who wrote it. The mom that I spoke with had just had her second child. Her first baby had milk from over 20 different donors until the age of 2. She knew when she became pregnant with her 2nd child that she would do the same for him. The mom has a deformity of her breasts that wouldn’t allow her to produce milk. She didn’t know about this until after her daughter was born and losing weight. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my goodness, what if that happened to me? What would I do? Who would help me?” From our first conversation we clicked. A few days later she sent me a cooler. The following day I packed the cooler and as I placed it on the scale at UPS, I felt kind of sad. The bulk of the milk in that cooler was pumped while my daughter was in the NICU. It was a time that was so incredibly difficult for me and for my husband but a time that was also full of memories of our brand-new tiny baby. Each date written on each bag held something special in my heart, Whether it be when they took my baby off of the oxygen or they increased her feeds, or a day where I got to hold her skin to skin for a few hours. So it was a very bittersweet moment. However, I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing. I felt so grateful that I had it to give and that there was someone out there who trusted me enough to give my milk to their precious little baby. I have since stopped pumping…only about a month ago. My daughter is 14 months old, still breastfeeding like a beast, 4-5 times a day…. it took her 4 months to figure it out but once she got it she never looked at a bottle again. I have shared 2,100 oz of frozen breastmilk. I have about 300 oz that I will be sending out next Monday, and that will be end of my 2-freezer stash and my milksharing relationship. However, we plan to still stay in touch.

Milksharing has been so incredibly rewarding. When I see my little girl crawling around, and when I see pictures of Jacob, its amazing to me that my body produced exactly what these 2 beautiful babies needed to get through the first year of life, and the fact that they are healthy thriving toddlers.

Needless to say, I plan on doing it again :)

World Milksharing Week 2011 logo

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

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World Milksharing Week — Sara’s Story, Recipient

September 24th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Sara Harris Mullen

Milk sharing is the most self-less act a mother can do. Milk sharing is the donation and sharing of breast milk between mothers who have, and mothers who do not. The following is my story.

Anabelle was born at 41 weeks, and she was absolutely perfect in every way. I had always known that I would breastfeed my children, because my mother breastfed me and my sister.  It’s what was just natural to me. I thought for sure that after my fertility battle, that it would be smooth sailing from then on after I got pregnant. Boy was I in for another shock!!

Annabelle

I’m a firm believer that God chooses certain people to be set forth on certain paths and this was my path. At just over a week old, Anabelle was hospitalized for failure to thrive, she had lost over 10% of her birth weight, dropping to under 5lbs. I worked with lactation consultants and pumped every two hours around the clock. We found out that my body was not producing the normal amount of milk that a mother should at one week postpartum. I was producing an ounce every two hours and was struggling to give Anabelle just a two ounce feeding every two and a half hours. During that five day stay, I also developed mastitis, that is a special pain that I hope to never endure again!

Anabelle started on formula, and I was determined to continue to work on my milk supply. I cried every time I fed Anabelle formula, she didn’t like it, she became fussy, gassy and constipated. I called my Doula crying asking what could I do, why wasn’t pumping and herbs working!! She told me about another option and my heart jumped and I had thought that things would be easier if it were the old days and other women would actually nurse my baby, or if I could have a wet nurse. Dani told me about milksharing and I said yes, I’ll do it, I can’t watch my baby be so unhappy anymore.

She showed up at my door within two hours with 40 ounces of milk from our first donor. I was utterly amazed and eternally grateful. At that time, I didn’t know that this would be a permanent part of our lives. I continued pumping, taking supplements and was even prescribed medication. I was prescribed Reglan, which has a terrible (but rare) side effect of extreme anxiety and depression. I had an anxiety attack one day at work and had to leave. I discontinued the medication and gave up hope of producing enough of my own milk to feed my child. I had immense guilt, what kind of mother can’t provide the most natural thing for her child. I felt that I had failed my baby and that I was not a good mother.

A few months later, I tried another medication, Domperidone. It was too late in the game for this medication to work for me, but I finally had peace of mind knowing that in 9 months time, I had truly tried everything to produce my own milk and feed my child.

In the last ten months, we have been touched by the most amazing generous women I have ever come into contact with. Women who have fed my child when I couldn’t do it myself. Women who love children so much pumped their milk to feed my baby. I am forever indebted to these women for the gift they have given me and my daughter.

I ask that you now pass my story on so that others may know about milk sharing. It’s a long hard road wondering where your next donation of milk will come from and the farther the word spreads about milk sharing, maybe the road traveled by us moms who use donor milk won’t have to be so rough in the future.

Sara, David, & Anabelle Mullen

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

Share your breastmilk/request breastmilk:  Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB)

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