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Why I donated my milk by Anne Brookhyser

Anne with daughter Elsa
In honor of World Breastfeeding Month, I’d like to share a bit from one of the aspects of my own experience. As a busy mom, I missed volunteering and being involved in my community as much as I had before children. I am one of the “lucky” women with oversupply rather than low milk supply issues. My body thinks I gave birth to twins and it takes it a while to realize that it only needs to make enough milk for one baby.
Oversupply can make women more prone to plugged ducts and mastitis (breast infection) and leads to fussier babies as they try to deal with the strong milk letdown reflex. Knowing my body’s tendency to make too much milk, I decided with my last baby that I wanted to be proactive and try to down regulate my supply. I wanted to decrease the engorgement and discomfort. As I worked to decrease my supply I ended up with extra breast milk in my freezer.
I used a manual pump and pumped on one side every morning while my daughter nursed on the other. It was 15 minutes out of my day and I collected about a gallon of milk per month for the first year of my daughter’s life.
As a labor and delivery nurse and a certified lactation consultant I knew the value of breast milk. And I knew just what to do with it. I decided to donate the it to The Milk Bank.   
I contacted the Milk Bank and completed a health questionnaire similar to screening for blood donors. They confirmed my good health with my provider and took some blood samples to test for diseases that could be passed through breast milk.  Once all my tests were cleared, I was approved to be a breast milk donor. The Milk Bank sent me instructions on how to handle the milk and all the plastic baggies I needed for storage.  
It was a win win- my supply was reduced AND I was able to contribute to the community’s health. The milk collected by the Milk Bank is pasteurized and used for a variety of uses. Babies that are premature, have illnesses or disorders, adopted babies are all candidates for receiving the milk. The Milk Bank serves many of the hospital NICU’s in the midwest.
I felt good sharing my “liquid gold” with babies that needed it. Now I’m a midwife working at the Goshen Birth Center where we recently became a breast milk collection depot for the Milk Bank. I am one of thousands of women who chose to donate their extra breast milk. Please consider joining us and becoming a milk donor today! 

Anne Brookhyser is a certified nurse-midwife and International Board Certified Lactation Consultant with Fairhaven OB/Gyn. She attends births at Goshen Birth Center. She is the married mother of two children, both breastfed.

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