For those of you who know me, you'll know that breastfeeding didn't always come easy for me. I exclusively breastfed our first son until he was 8 months old, when he began to ween himself. Breastfeeding was always painful for me, and I never once found it to be enjoyable. I did it because I felt it was what was best for our son. And as a mom, love pushes us through challenges to do whatever we have to, to give our children the best we can. On advice from our doctor at the time, I was told not to pump for the first 8 weeks, and to exclusively breastfeed our son. I wanted to pump so that my husband would have the bond with his son that I had with him. But when I tried to pump after the recommended 8 weeks of exclusive breastfeeding, I didn't have enough milk to pump. I would double pump for a half hour and be lucky to get a combined 1.5oz. My husband still fed it to our son, and you could just see how proud he was being a dad. After that, no matter how often I tried to pump, I just couldn't seem to build up my milk supply (although it was still enough to feed our son) to produce enough to pump extra milk. It wasn't until our son weened himself from the boob that I was able to pump a decent amount (about 3oz per boob) which we were then able to mix into his puréed foods.
Fast forward to baby number two.
After complications with our second son prevented me from breastfeeding him, I pumped exclusively to be able to give him (what in my mind) was the best for him. This led to me producing extra milk and lots of it. His first few days, he breastfed, and after my milk came in, I breastfed, and then pumped milk when he was done breastfeeding. He was losing a lot of weight, and we wanted to make sure he had enough milk, so I was breastfeeding, and then topping up with the bottle afterwards. It turned out he had dangerously high levels of bilirubin and eventually got treated for it before any permanent damage took place. He still continued to lose weight after he was treated for the bilirubin, and was in the hospital for a week. For this whole week, I was exclusively pumping - pumping every 3 hours so we could feed him. I would get about 2.5oz which was just enough for one feed. Then I started pumping less frequently, and all of a sudden I was pumping about 8oz! I couldn't believe how much I was producing, considering my experience with my first son. Now, almost 3 months into being a mom for the second time, I find myself pumping 4 times a day, and pumping between 8oz and 12oz at every pumping session. Because my son only takes about 3oz per feed, I end up freezing about 8-12oz every day. In less than 2 months, I had frozen so much milk, there was no way our son was going to use up the stash. Because of my struggles with getting milk for our first son, I thought there's no way I would waste the milk, so I googled the milk bank in BC (from BC Women's & Children's Hospital) and signed up to be a milk donor. The screening process is pretty lengthy, and you have to do blood work, and have a stash of at least 75 oz before you can be considered a donor.
I fulfilled all their requirements, and am proud to say I am an official milk donor in BC, providing breastmilk mainly to preemies in NICU's around the province. I made my first donation of 109 4oz bags to BC Women's & Childrens Hospital at the end of June, and I look forward to donating more in the near future! I couldn't have done this without our son Maverick, so I'm thankful for his health, and hopeful that I can help with the health of another baby. Because of him, there'll be a lot of preemies who will have the benefits of breastmilk in their time of need.
I also truly believe I wouldn't be producing this much milk if it weren't for the amazing technology from Medela, and their newest pump the Sonata which is their top of the line pump at the moment - powerful yet surprisingly gentle and quiet. It truly is amazing how these electric pumps work.
I struggled for a bit, trying to decide whether I should post this blog. I don't want people to commend me for being a milk donor, rather I simply wanted to raise awareness for the Milk Bank in publishing this post. I know how difficult it can be to breastfeed, or pump breastmilk, and I feel that as a mother (or a parent), it is my duty to share what good fortune I have in being able to provide breastmilk for my children. For anyone in a similar situation as me, I strongly encourage to look into donating milk at the BC Women's Milk Bank - they are in desperate need of milk, and you'd be doing an amazing thing for another mother, and her child.