I walk a fine line under normal circumstances when it comes to food preservation and hoarding....so why would it be any different when it came to my breastmilk? In the beginning, I was practically tethered to my breast pump. I guess I thought that I would be prepared for going back to work. So I pumped. And pumped. And pumped.
I pumped until I was so tired of the breast pump I had to take over a month long break from pumping. But by that time, I had pumped out an astounding 59 bags of milk! There was just one problem: along the way, I discovered that my Ruby couldn't tolerate dairy in my diet. All that wonderful milk I had pumped was chocked full of dairy! So, I just put in the deep freeze to preserve it thinking maybe one day she will be able to make use of it.
Fast forward to month five and I'm going back to work as a personal chef. That was about the time I discovered that my daughter would rather go on hunger strike than eat from a bottle, or a sippy cup despite her capability to do so. Not that she could tolerate the milk with dairy....and anyway I had a new stockpile of "non dairy" milk by then. So, what to do with all that milk?
I took to the internet to look into milk banks. Wow. What a lot of information that lead me to. These milk banks, on the surface, seemed like a great idea. Yes, they made you take a blood test. Yes, you had to submit a DNA sample...and that seemed a little invasive, but I understood that they had to check and make sure that the milk was, in fact, coming from the person who giving it. But then came the kicker: after those things, they take your milk and they pasteurize it! WTF!?!?!?!
Maybe I have missed something here, but if they take your milk and pasteurize it, doesn't it sort lose all that mom's milk goodness that breastmilk is famous for? I just couldn't do it. So, back to the internet I went, this time to Facebook and a friend of mine who is well connected with other moms...maybe someone out there was in need of my milk, I thought. Turned out, there was.
I was able to donate directly to someone who needed breastmilk for their baby who couldn't tolerate formula. She came, took all my bags of frozen milk, and then she told me something that really upset me. She said those milk banks you donate your milk to (the same ones that pasteurize the goodness from the milk) then turn around and try to sell the milk to people like her for $5 per ounce!
I don't want to discourage anyone from donating....that's not what this is about, really. In fact, if you are producing milk and storing it away, I hope that you will consider donating to someone in need because as mother's we have to be able to lean on one another. It's about doing your homework before you do. If at all possible, try and give to someone in need in your own community. Because companies can be a-holes who turn your good intention (not to mention all that hard work spending pumping) into profit. And that's bull.
That's not to say that there aren't good places to donate to; I'm sure there are. But in a more rural area like where I live, I wasn't able to find any local programs. Even if I had, the thought of having my milk pasteurized was a little more than I could handle. That, and, there are local people in need who don't have the $5 an ounce to spare.
So tell me, have you donated milk? Have you been in need of milk donation? If you know of a good milk donation source where you personally had a good experience, please leave it for me in the comments section below!