Why milk matters…my story and how you can help

Today I decided to write about milk. And although milk is reputed to have some interesting beauty benefits – remember Cleopatra’s milk baths? – it isn’t the kind of milk I’m taking about, and this isn’t even beauty related. I just felt passionate about this and needed to share.

When my daughter was born she was taken away to NICU immediately due to a difficult birth, and I didn’t even get a chance to hold her. I never had that important bonding time with her, which made it so difficult for me to connect with the baby I was shown in an incubator the following day and told was mine. I really think it had a long-term effect on my experience as a mom. As she was being fed through a tube and I had limited access to her, breast feeding did not work despite my best efforts. I don’t think anyone can deny that breastmilk is the best food for babies generally, but for the babies in NICU, many premature, it can literally be an immune-building life saver. I felt so strongly about breastmilk that I expressed milk (for the non-moms, that’s basically like milking a cow, right) for over six months and bottle fed my daughter breastmilk. This is a personal choice of course,ย and everyone is entitled to their own opinion and course of action.

Maddie ICU

The first time I saw Moo

I also decided to become a milk donor so that I could give back and help other babies desperately in need. I donated to an NGO called Milk Matters, and they have a short video below on why donor milk is needed and what the organisation does. If as a new mom this doesn’t pull at your heartstrings then I don’t know what will. Only 50ml of milk can feed a premature baby for 24 hours, and if you’re worried as a new mom that you don’t have enough to feed your baby and donate, consider the fact that many people breastfeed twins. The more your baby drinks the more milk you produce, so by expressing an extra 50ml a day for donation you could be improving your milk supply.

I chose to do it because I was so thankful that after three days in NICU, brain scans and various tests my daughter was lucky to be fine. The outcome could have been different, and I wanted to do it for every baby who wasn’t as lucky, who had perhaps been abandoned, whose mothers were HIV positive or were just premature and fighting for their lives.ย For information on Milk Matters and how you can become a donor you can click here.

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9 thoughts on “Why milk matters…my story and how you can help

  1. Chereen Strydom says:

    Wow, Bronwyn! LOVE this post. Madison looks so teeny and cute in that pic! I am so passionate about breastfeeding and as Noah has started weaning himself, I’ve been thinking about donating. Think I’ll give Milk Matters a call. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Mother City Mom says:

    Thank you, Chereen, it means a lot! I didn’t know if anyone would read this, but I just hope a few moms do. It would be wonderful if you could donate. I remember you just need to get an HIV test at Clicks or wherever (for obvious reasons) and other than that they give you the bottles and everything and you can also freeze it and then drop off a lot at a time.
    I didn’t say so, but when I first saw Madison in the ICU I was too scared to pick her up or anything because it felt like it was “their” baby and nobody said I could. So I just sat looking at her and felt so disconnected. I had a tough time when Madison was born and don’t talk about it much.

  3. Tam Carneson says:

    Completely agree with you about the importance of breast milk – particularly in the first 6 months / year of a little’s life!

    Our little Bean also had to spend some time in NNCU and getting breast milk to her was my biggest concern. I have thought about donating breast milk before – but now I think I’ll look at it a lot more seriously!

    Thanks for the info ๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Mother City Mom says:

      It gives you a great sense of achievement. And remember not everyone can do it! That’s why they really struggle to get enough donations. I know Milk Matters really appreciates every drop ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Linda Bulcraig says:

    Hi Bronwyn, thank you for this post, it’s so nice to hear a mother being honest about how tough things can be, so many people try and pretend they it’s so easy. I have two children, Conor is 4 and Emily is 1 and I feel that being a mother is really difficult some times. I struggled with breast feeding to be honest, but I tried my best and did it for as long as I could. If I ever do have another baby (which I don’t plan to, three would just be too much) then I would definitely try to donate breast milk.

  5. Claire Sissing says:

    Thank you so much for this post, i have been a donor for 3 months and have donated over 6 litres of breast milk, I am so passionate about this cause that my one year old has been weaned off during the day and only feeds at night, i have dedicated to pump twice a day and donate my breast milk for another year. I have been truly blessed with lots of milk and manage to pump 300ml day to donate to milk matters. I really wish we could reach more mommies, I visited the milk matters team on saturday and we where told that there is only 40 active donors in the western cape ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    So i am actively trying to get involved to get more mommies to donate ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Andrea says:

    Wow – from a one-time exclusive pumper to another, I applaud you! I did the same for Addi (first born) – we had a difficult birth too and with no experienced friends or family around to help after she was born (in London), I battled to ever get her ‘on the boob’ properly and ended up expressing for 6 months or so just like you. Determined to get it right with number two (very recently), I went to a breastfeeding support group before she even arrived, and have learned so much about the miracles of breast milk, donating and all sorts! Brilliant post, well done Xx

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