When I breastfed my youngest son, he had a hard time adjusting to taking a bottle of expressed milk while I was at work. Nonetheless, I locked myself away in my office every 3 hours to pump while I was separated from him, accumulating a huge supply of milk that my son would barely touch while he was at daycare. Naturally, he would cluster feed ALL night long to make up for taking so little during the day, so I had sleepless nights for a very long time. And I also ended up with a freezer of untouched breast milk.
So, what can you do with extra breast milk? Don't let that liquid gold go to waste. Let's talk some basics:
1) Milk will keep in a deep freezer for up to 12 months, so even after you have weaned, you can continue to use up your supply by supplementing baby's diet with it.
2) Frozen milk should be stored in quantities that baby will take at one feeding--generally 2-4 ounces is a good amount. This helps minimize waste.
3) Once milk has been thawed, it is best to use it within 24 hours.
While Google has pages upon pages of suggestions about what to do with extra breast milk, such as turning it into soap or lotion, breast milk donation is an important option.
Mother's milk banks provide breast milk to babies who have been born prematurely, or are ill. The process is simple, yet can sometimes be a bit time-consuming. Donating mothers will usually be interviewed, either by phone and/or written questionnaire, determining their eligibility. Donating mothers must be:
* in general good health
* not on any medications or herbal supplements (with some exceptions, which vary by donation bank)
* non-smokers, non-drug users
* be willing to undergo a blood test (to check for any diseases, including HIV and hepatitis), which is paid for by the bank
* be willing to donate a minimum amount of breast milk (which is usually about 100 ounces)
After you've passed the simple screening process, the bank will send you an ice-packed, self-addressed cooler, with the shipping paid in full. All you have to do is fill it up, schedule pick-up, and send it on its way. And then...congratulations, you've just helped lots of babies receive the gift of optimum nutrition.
Almost 700 ounces later, WakeMed Mother's Milk Bank in North Carolina received several shipments of breast milk from me.
Human Milk Banking Association of North America can provide you with further details and the closest milk banks for breast milk donation. https://www.hmbana.org/locations
Your lactation consultant can also help you through the process.
* Some moms who have lost babies shortly after birth, continue to produce milk. For many of these mothers, the process of drying up their milk supply is part of the grieving process. For other mothers, they find comfort in producing milk to help other sick babies. Milk donation may be a therapeutic option for these moms. A lactation consultant can help with either of these scenarios.