Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Donating breastmilk - Every drop counts!

Today I had my final collection of breastmilk from Birmingham Women's Hospital. It's the end of my time as a breastmilk donor as baby girl is almost 6 months old and the milk bank can only accept milk from donors while their babies are under 6 months. This is because the composition of breastmilk changes naturally as a baby grows and it's less suitable for a premature or newborn baby. Isn't nature amazing?

I've been pumping one bottle a day since baby girl was about 2 months old and popping it in the freezer. The milk bank collects the milk if you live too far to drop it off once you've got a minimum of 2.5 litres. You have to have plenty of freezer room. You have to make sure it's collected before you've had it three months so this is the second collection I've had.

There are a few things you have to agree to, you can't drink alcohol within 48 hours of donating, which means you can't really drink. That's fine, I'm not a big drinker and over Christmas when I wanted a drink I just had leave off pumping for a few days. You also have to agree to a blood test to check for communicable diseases, obviously that makes perfect sense. You also have to keep a log of your freezer temperatures.

To be honest the hardest part was cleaning and sterilising the breast pump every day, I feel for people who bottle feed, it's an effort!

I received a lovely letter after my last donation from the consultant at the neonatal unit and I thought it was so sweet to hand write to all of the donors.

So it's the end of an era and reminds me how quickly the special newborn time passes. It is a totally worthy cause and really worth doing, so if you want to know more about milk banking in the UK please visit UK association for Milk Banking

The ladies running the milk bank said that some babies take as little as 0.5ml an hour, hence their slogan every drop counts. At the final count I've donated about 8 litres of milk so hopefully there are some babies out there getting as chubby off my milk as my own baby girl :-)

Here is some info from their website on the benefits of breastmilk for premature and sick babies.

Benefits of Breastmilk and Donor Breastmilk

  • Protection from infection. Donor breastmilk is the next best thing to a mother’s own breastmilk if she is unable to feed her baby for whatever reason, or if her baby requires additional milk for a time. Donor breastmilk has benefits over formula because it contains a variety of protective factors which help protect a sick premature baby from infection. These small babies are very prone to catch to infections and they need all the help they can get. These protective factors, such as immunoglobulins, are not present in fomula prepared from cow’s milk.
  • Protection from necrotising enterocolitis. Not only does donor breastmilk protect from infection but it also has a protective role against the syndrome called necrotising enterocolitis.
  • Easier to digest. A preterm baby’s gut is very delicate and it absorbs breastmilk more easily than formula milk because the balance of proteins is different. A sick baby needs to be fed very gently and very small amounts of breastmilk gradually acclimatise the gut to food. This is especially true for babies who have had gut surgery when their gut needs to be introduced to food very gradually.


  1. OMG! OMG! is there anything that you can't do!!! i am super happy for all of those babies who benefited from your donation! on behalf of all of them - i say thank you! thank you so very much!

  2. Thanks, breastfeeding is a joy for me and I really feel that it has given me such pleasure I really encourage people to try it, there's just not enough help out there. It also saves wastage of all the energy and resources that goes into making cows milk suitable for humans, so big plus for the planet. That being said, sometimes things don't go to plan and so the next best thing for poorly babies is milk from someone who has plenty! Oh God hope I don't sound too breastfeeding nazi, just love the closeness with my baby.

  3. Kirsty - since the beginning of time, there have been babies whose mothers simply could not feed them and only other women with extra milk could save them - God designed us this way. i am so glad that you have had such a good experience with breastfeeding and having the ability to help those tiny babies whose mother's couldn't or weren't around to feed them. big plus for the planet - you betchya! congrats gurl...you and your husband are raising children with everything needed for them to have the experience of growing up in a well-balanced, well-adjusted family and do i expect them to fix the world? you betchya!

    those are some big shoes to fill. but i have no problem you can fill them. kudos!