Monday, May 23, 2011

Motherwear Breastfeeding Blogger Shares Her Breast Milk Donor Story with Milkies

Tanya Lieberman, professional blogger, Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog
Children – Ages 8 and 1
Profession – Lactation consultant, IBCLC
Location - Massachusetts

When did you start donating breast milk?
I started donating breast milk in August 2010, when my daughter was a few months old. I live in Massachusetts, but I primarily donated to the Mothers' Milk Bank of North Texas. I also made smaller donations to the Mothers' Milk Bank of San Jose while I was there over the holidays. I also hope to make a final donation to the brand new Mothers' Milk Bank of New England.

How much do you think you've collected over the course of donation?
I expect to have donated 10 gallons by the time my daughter is a year old.

What was the process like getting approved to be a donor?
It was fairly simple. The process involved a phone interview, a written interview, blood work, and forms from my nurse midwife and my baby's pediatrician. It didn't take long and the milk bank’s staff was always available to answer questions.

Do you get compensated to be a donor?
No. Donors to HMBANA milk banks are not compensated. I'm not aware of any milk banks that pay donors.

Do you ever get to hear about families you've helped?
I don't get to hear about the specific families my milk has gone to, though I do hear a lot of stories about the recipients of donor milk from different milk banks. It wouldn't really be possible to figure out who has received my milk because the milk banks combine different donors' milk as part of processing. This evens out differences in donors' milk.

What tools do you use to bank your milk?
I use a hospital grade pump which I own, though a personal use pump would also work, milk storage bags, microwave sterilizer bags and packaging materials provided by the milk banks. I also purchase dry ice to package the milk for shipping.

What tools do you use to be successful at breastfeeding?
I use the standard things such as a nursing pillow, reusable-nursing pads, nursing bras, milk storage bags, etc.

How has the Milkies Milk Saver helped you? Is it a part of your breast feeding routine?
I used Milkies Milk Saver early on in breastfeeding when I had a pretty serious oversupply. It allowed me to catch the extra milk. I used the milk collected from the Milk Saver to introduce a bottle to my baby.

How much time do you spend each week pumping and delivering donated milk? Tell us about the commitment involved.
I pump once a day. Initially I pumped in the morning, and now I pump at night just before bed. Pumping feels like part of my daily routine and doesn't take long. Once every few months, when our freezer is getting crowded and I have a few hundred ounces stored, I package up the milk and send it off.

Why do you think milk banking is important?
I'm a lactation consultant (IBCLC) and I learned about donor milk banking as part of my training. I've never worked in a NICU setting, but I know that donor milk can be lifesaving. Preterm babies, especially very low birth weight infants, are at risk for developing a condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). An estimated five to 20% of babies can develop the condition. It is essentially gangrene of the gut, and a section of the baby's intestine dies. The mortality rate is high - about 1 in 4 will die from it. Donor milk is estimated to reduce the risk of NEC by 77% (and 90% for very low birth weight infants). And it's expensive; a case of surgical NEC costs an estimated $350,000. Donor milk has also been shown to reduce the incidence of late onset sepsis, allow for earlier full enteral feedings, and shorten hospital stays. So all of these things factored into my decision to becoming a milk donor.

Why did you personally decide to do it?
I'm very motivated by the idea that my extra milk can save the life of a very vulnerable baby. I had wanted to donate with my first child, but at the time HMBANA milk banks wouldn't accept milk from women who had traveled to Africa. That changed in the time between my kids (they now exclude mothers who have visited a few specific countries in Africa), and I was thrilled to be able to participate.

What words of wisdom would you offer a mom interested in doing it herself?
I'd tell moms that their milk has a lot of value and could save an infant's life. Demand for donor milk has tripled in the last ten years, and will continue to increase as more NICUs make it the standard of care. There is already a serious shortage right now. So I'd encourage anyone interested to pursue it.

I'd also tell moms not to be deterred by the minimum donation amounts set by the milk banks. The minimum is generally between 100 to 200 ounces. They need to set these minimums because it costs them a lot to screen a donor, and they need to be able to get enough milk to make it worth the cost. While 100 ounces seems like a lot, if you pump 4 ounces a day, you can produce that amount in 25 days. And since you can donate up until your baby is a year old, there's plenty of time to accumulate that amount.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Breastfeeding Mom Puts a Stop to Inconvenient Leaks

Anne Lehnick is mom to Declan (four), and new baby, Skyler (four months). Anne wanted to breastfeed Skyler, just like she did for Declan, but she knew she had to nip her leaking breasts in the bud the second time around.

When nursing her first child, Anne noticed she had a lot of leaking when her free breast letdown. She also battled with leaking issues when she would hear her son cry. She would ruin her clothes and go through breast pad after breast pad. With Anne’s second child she wanted to keep her clothes, bras and nursing pillows clean and dry and not waste the extra milk.

“I did not like wearing breast pads, and sometimes I would just forget to put them on altogether,” explains Anne.

Anne also knew that she would be heading back to work and her daughter to daycare after her maternity leave was over. She wanted to be sure to stock up because she was concerned her milk production wasn’t going to be as strong once back at the office.

There was a simple solution to all of Anne’s worries. With the Milkies Milk-Saver, Anne was able to keep her clothes dry and store roughly 60 ounces of breast milk before returning to work.

With her first child, Anne would press a towel to her free breast to prevent leaking. But with her second child, Anne welcomed the leaky milk and used her Milk-Saver to collect the milk on the breast her daughter was not breastfeeding on.

Now that Anne is back at work, she mainly uses her Milk-Saver at home.

“I still manage to collect a few ounces each week. I use [the collected milk] to help get to the next level ounce in a bottle of pumped breast milk.”

Anne says collects her milk because she knows it's best for baby, it's economical (you can’t beat free!), and she wants to be sure her baby is fed breast milk while at daycare. It certainly doesn’t hurt, she admits, that her clothes stay nice and dry too!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Mom Saves 375 oz. Using a Milk-Saver

Sarah Van Wyhe and Family

Sarah Van Wyhe is a former elementary school teacher and a breastfeeding mama; however, breastfeeding wasn’t always so easy for this busy mom of two. After finding herself unable to breastfeed her first born after much angst, she was determined to make breastfeeding work for her second born, a boy name Logan.

A week after giving birth to Logan, a friend bought Sarah a Milkies Milk-Saver. Sarah wanted one, as she remembered when trying to breastfeed her first son that she had strong milk let-down in the non-nursing breast. She knew she would soak through nursing pads if she didn’t have something in place to collect the milk.

“I was losing a lot of breast milk during let-down, which was quite frustrating as I had so much trouble breastfeeding the first go round and hated to see any milk go to waste. I was determined to save every last drop,” she says.

With her Milkies Milk-Saver in hand and on breast, Sarah was off to collect and save her breast milk.

“The first week home I was super engorged and was manually expressing milk to save it. It was a lot of extra work. But what I love about Milkies is that as soon as I put it on and start feeding my son, it did all the work for me. All I had to do was focus on feeding my baby while collecting extra milk on the other breast,” she says. “I’m so happy someone invented a product that makes life easy for us productive milk makers!”

What Do You Do With All that Milk?

As a stay-at-home mom, Sarah knew she didn’t have a need for all the milk she was collecting.

“I’ve been collecting six to seven ounces a day with my Milkies Milk-Saver, most of which I don’t need. My pediatrician suggested I donate the excess milk to a milk bank,” says Sarah.

That is exactly what Sarah did. She contacted a milk bank that makes the collection, storing and shipping process so easy for her. Plus, she says the milk bank she chose gives $1 per ounce of qualified breast milk donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.

“I feel really good about donating this milk to a family in need without doing a lot of extra work on my part. I’m not only able to help provide nutrition to a baby who desperately needs it, but also my donation brings monetary gain to an organization that is helping fight breast cancer. It’s personal to me because one of my friends in my mom’s group, who is only 32 years old, is going through breast cancer treatment now,” she says.

In eight weeks, Sarah says she has collected 375 ounces of breast milk - 250 ounces for donation and 150 ounces to save in her freezer. That’s 6.7 ounces per day, on average! Sarah says she did all this without pumping and by only using her Milkies Milk-Saver.

Becoming a Milk Donor: The Process

We asked Sarah to tell us about her donation experience. She says there are several stages she had to go through to qualify to be a donor.

First, she had to get a letter from her pediatrician saying that her baby is gaining weight and is healthy. She also needed a second letter from her doctor signing off that she, too, was healthy.

She was then sent a DNA swab that she was able to do in seconds and send back to the milk bank. They then sent a technician to her house to draw blood.

Once they knew Sarah had a clean bill of health, they sent her a big box with a cooler inside and two huge freezer gel packs. When she was ready to send her milk, she says she contacts FedEx to pick up the box. When she is ready for a new box, she contacts the milk bank seven days in advance and they send her a new box with FedEx postage paid. They also supply the milk storage bags.

“I’m blow away by how easy everything is, from collecting my milk through donation to a milk bank!” she says.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mummies Nummies posts comments on Facebook "No Breastfeeding Photos" policy

The popular breastfeeding support blog Mummies Nummies (I know- adorable right?!) posted some thoughtful comments on the controversial Facebook policy to remove breastfeeding photos. Here is a link to her post- give it a read an follow her comments.


Happy Nursing!

Milkies Gives New Mom Confidence in Her Milk Supply

Check out the occasional posts of the stories of Milkies users on the Lactation Education blog. Our first story is from a mommy with an all to common problem- milk supply confidence...

When Jessie O. gave birth to a beautiful baby girl two months ago, she was excited to breastfed for the first time. However, breastfeeding didn’t feel like she thought it would. In the first week she didn’t feel engorged or leaky like many told her she would feel. Plus, her daughter lost one pound from her birth weight, signaling to her and her doctor that perhaps she wasn’t producing enough milk. Her doctor grew concerned and suggested she supplement with formula.

“I was losing my confidence with breastfeeding and I was worried that I wasn’t producing enough milk,” says Jessie.

Wanting breastfeeding to work and not wanting to permanently have to supplement with formula, she decided to call a lactation consultant (LC). She learned from the LC that not all breastfeeding mothers get engorged, nor do they leak. The LC also assured her that she may be producing enough milk or will be producing enough soon enough if her daughter has proper latch, which Jessie knew she had down pat.

After talking with the LC and regaining some confidence in her breastfeeding efforts, Jessie decided to exclusively breastfeed again… and this time she found success! Her daughter was gaining weight!

After breastfeeding for a few weeks Jessie was excited to see that she was indeed leaking milk from the non-nursing breast while she was breastfeeding her daughter.

“I was excited to be leaking – it meant my milk was there and plentiful,” she says.

Jessie hated that any of her milk was going to waste, especially after what she’d been through to build it, so she wanted to collect every last drop, even the drops that leaked. She had heard about Milkies from a magazine and decided to get one right away.

“When I used Milkies for the first time I was able to collect about one ounce of milk. I was so excited! Milkies gave me confidence in my milk supply and now I save every drop of that liquid gold,” she adds.

Jessie’s baby girl is two months old and thriving on only breast milk – no formula supplementation. She says she is now off to tackle her next challenge: build a milk supply so her freezer is fully stocked with milk when she returns to work. Milkies, she says, is helping her do that… drop by drop!

Facebook removes breastfeeding pictures from Earth Mama Angel Baby's Page

Last week Facebook sent a WARNING to Earth Mama Angel Baby about the breastfeeding photos of their FB page. Check out one of the images below- a tasteful image of a touching moment between a mother and child.

Breastfeeding in public is legal in 44 states. FB is not an area within these United States but they could make the choice to recognize breastfeeding as a normal and natural act, not a display of nudity. Many of us choose to be citizens of the Facebook community, but when they censor images of an idea that is important to us... it makes me wonder if I want my virtual self to continue to live there.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Disaster in Japan-breastfeeding saves lives

As the disaster in Japan continues to unfold, we are reminded of how vulnerable we all are to the unpredictability of nature.

It is hard to imaging ourselves in the place of the many homeless, hungry families. How would you cope with the cold and wet conditions? Could you feed your children and keep them safe? As parents what can we do to insulate our families from the most devastating aspects of a natural disaster?

If you are the mother of a young child breastfeeding is disaster preparedness. Breastfeeding has been shown by UNICEF to be the safest way to give infants the best nutrition, help them fight illness and keep them warm.

Formula feeding in disaster situations has been shown to cause more health problems than if it had never been available at all. In disaster situations formula fed infants are more likely to suffer diarrhea, dehydration and malnutrition. To summarize-they are more likely to die.

Breastfeeding gives babies the immunity boost they need when they need it the most. Post disaster environments are fetid and filthy. The problem in Japan is compounded by the cold conditions and 500,000 homeless in a bone chilling winter. If clean water was available how would it be warmed? Taking in warm fluid, like breast milk, is an effective way to maintain body temperature in a cold environment. Skin-to-skin contact that is a part of breast helps calm and warm baby, lowering metabolic requirements.

The International Lactation Consultant Association issued a press release soon after the disaster in Japan. They made these recommendations for relief work in disaster areas:

  1. 1.Encourage mothers to continue breastfeeding

2.Feed the mother so she can feed her baby

3.Provide a safe environment to express breast milk

4. Assist mothers separated from their infants with milk removal to maintain supply and prevent milk stasis. Mothers may also choose to nurse another baby.

5. Provide donor milk if needed

6. Assist mothers with relactation if they have already weaned their infants

7. Provide mothers with accurate information about the unique properties of breast milk and the importance if continued breastfeeding