To pay it forward - I have been donating my frozen breastmilk to friends and strangers in need. Since I have a good supply - I share to those in need. Its just my way to support lactating mothers - help them when they need it. You see, breastfeeding/breastpumping is not easy - its really hardwork! One may say its FREE but you have to be healthy, nourished with good food and is hydrated at ALL times! And being well fed - well, that's not cheap!
Storing and collecting breastmilk too is not cheap. You'd have to have ample refrigerator and freezer space. You'll need storage bags, storage containers and etc. You need to label them and organize them (FIFO - First In First Out) It's quite tedious - but then, it has to be done right?
So when I donate to friends and strangers - its done with love and care. I am sharing a part of me to their kids - to keep them healthy, to help them out with their milk supply, plainly said - to keep them BREASTFED.
The reason why I am doing this post is because I've had my fair share of not so good experiences with strangers asking for milk. I know it's quite odd - but I was hoping that people would have this 'rules of engagement' - ethics in asking for breastmilk. I've LIKED the FB page of Human Milk 4 Human Babies - Philippines and I've given quite a number to those who posted that they needed breastmilk.
This post if for those lactating mommies who donate. Think of it as my way of showing consideration to them (as I am one too).
Breastmilk is FREE but the collecting and storing process is not. It takes time to pump out the milk, pour the milk into bags and freezing them. When the milk bags are frozen - we still organize them by date. Here's a thought to those asking for breastmilk:
1) GET IT when you say you will - I've had numerous experiences when those asking DO NOT pass by for the milk. They said they will get the milk but after a few days - they still haven't picked up the milk you've prepared for them. Its either they've gotten from other sources or simply forgot to pick-up and end up not picking up at all! Be considerate enough to inform those you've asked from that you won't be getting the frozen/chilled breastmilk already - it's the LEAST you can do. We could have shared that milk to someone else in need.
2) Bring a CLEAN cooler with ice packs or ice - Transporting breastmilk is tricky! One must have a good cooler with ice packs so DO NOT FORGET to bring a cooler! I've had one stranger look at me like I'm crazy when I expressed disappointment when she didn't bring a cooler - you see, frozen breastmilk is delicate and once thawed, it must be consumed within 24 hours. Proper handling of frozen breastmilk is important - it'll be put to waste when not handled correctly! We took our precious time pumping them and preaparing them only for you to end up spoiling our precious milk! Also, make sure that your cooler is CLEAN! We, moms have taken out time out to ensure the cleanliness of storing our milk so when I receive dirty cooler - I hesitate and think 'Should I still give my breastmilk?' because the cleanliness is compromised. So, be sure to clean your coolers!
3) TEXT or CALL before you pick up - this is a very considerate gesture. To remind and be reminded. There are times that we moms - forget and there are times that we need to be reminded. Inform us nicely so we won't be hassled with an 'I forgot' (for both the mommy donating and the mommy asking)
4) Arrange a pick-up TIME that is CONVENIENT for the both of you - Time is precious, therefore inform ahead, what time you intend to pick up the breastmilk. A ball park estimate of time is enough - just be considerate enough not to pick up during the wee hours in the morning or night. If you're running late - a text informing us of your lateness will be very MUCH appreciated.
5) Since the milk is FREE - a simple thank you is fine. But let's be honest - milk storage bags costs a lot too! I was giving away bags of frozen milk - then I suddenly noticed my milk bags stash is depleting and I needed to buy more. I thought to myself - I am donating YET I am spending so much on milk bags that I don't even get to use (for my baby). It was then that I started asking for milk storage bags as an exchange. At first I was uneasy with the idea BUT then I realized - What am I suppose to use for myself? There is no SOP on the number of bags you will give - think of it this way, the cost of breastmilk is free BUT the time and effort put into it is great, so be generous! These donating mommies are generous enough giving their precious milk to you, right? A simple thank you is appreciated BUT it's also nice to receive a token from those you that we have given milk to! These tokens need not be expensive gifts - a small box of goodies such as ensaymada and cookies will go a long way! It will make the donating mommy feel appreciated - AND it will put a BIG smile on her face.
There's this saying that women complain of not being appreciated. So, let's all do our share in making lactating mommies FEEL APPRECIATED.