milk-sharing mamas

Black woman breastfeeding and black baby

If you have had the distinct pleasure of supplying a child with breastmilk with your own body, you know about the stress that comes along with it.

If you haven’t had the pleasure/opportunity, then I can fill you in on some of my own personal experiences:

  • First, there was the pain. For the first 72 hours (at least) of my daughter’s life, all she wanted to do was nurse. Her latch was NOT good, and my nipples were seriously damaged. I almost gave up nursing entirely. If I hadn’t been pushed by my husband to make sure I went to a local breastfeeding support group, I know I would have given up.
  • Once my milk finally came in, my breasts were as hard as rocks–NEARLY LITERALLY–and I thought I may actually die. I couldn’t leave my house those couple of days because I was miserable and in so much pain.
  • I have been to the physical therapist 4 times (3 of those 4 times taking time off of work) to get ultrasound therapy to avoid getting mastitis, an infection caused by clogged milk ducts.
  • My child laughs maniacally when she knows what is coming (my boobs/a meal) and nothing can replace that happy feeling.
  • The bond I feel with my daughter, no matter how stressful everything else is or the issues we have with sleep or whatever else, is so amazing and I had no idea how important breastfeeding would be to me before I did it and did not even care before at least halfway through my pregnancy and just kind of assumed we would likely do formula feeding.

I have been lucky enough to have an oversupply of breastmilk. At times this has been uncomfortable. I have woken up many times, even after my supply should have been regulated (when my hormones balanced out), in a pool of breastmilk. For the first 8 months of my daughter’s life, I pumped an extra session because of anxiety of losing my supply. I had heard so many stories of women’s supplies dropping because of their periods, pregnancy, no longer responding to the pump, or just any old reason.

White woman with short, brown pixie haircut and black-rimmed glasses wearing a pumping bra.
A morning pumping session.

There haven’t been many hours outside of work that I’ve spent away from my daughter. Partially because I miss her, but a lot of it is the logistics of missing a feeding and feeling the need to pump if I miss the opportunity to feed her. Because of that, it also means that all of the extra milk I pumped has just gone unused. What to do with the milk piling up in the deep freeze and freezer?

Donate it to mothers in need, of course! I have had the amazing opportunity to supply nearly 1,000 ounces (or more, honestly I don’t know) of breast milk to two different mamas. One mama was pregnant and lost her supply, and another mama had her second baby and just found that they were struggling in their breastfeeding relationship.

I’m proud to have been able to help these families and consider it an honor that they would accept the milk that I give to my child to nourish their own. I know in the past that wet nurses were very much a thing, but we live in a culture that considers breastfeeding itself taboo!

Because of my donations, at least one of these two moms got to meet their breastfeeding goals with their baby. It makes my heart happy to know this. I would hope for the same if something happened to my supply; I’m confident I know women who would try to help me.

What has your breastfeeding journey been like? What trials and tribulations have you experienced? Have you shared or received breast milk? What do you think about it? Let me know all of the thoughts you have on the topic!

One thought on “milk-sharing mamas

  1. I love your story, thank you for sharing. I struggled with nipple damage with my first baby and thought it was normal. My mother in law told me to scrub my nipples with a wet wash rag in the shower to toughen them up before birth but in hindsight that was terrible advice. The second baby I had a bit of nipple trauma but it was more because I was lazy in establishing a good patch in the beginning. With my third baby my midwife reminded me to establish a good latch and it was much better.

    I have struggled with clogged milk ducts and mastitis with all three babies. I have plenty of extra milk and have donated to lots of mamas. I’ve actually been trying to pump less at work this time to reduce my oversupply. I’ve been lucky to never need donor milk, but I absolutely would if I did and I love that the milksharing community exists.

    My sister and I have actually nurses each other’s babies when we babysat each other’s kiddos because it was easier than bottle feeding them.

    I love the community of women and breastfeeding and absolutely believe it takes a village to raise a child.

    Like

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