There are some donors I will never forget. Dr. Jordan Craig and her family are one. From our only meeting at the hospital where she was a Resident on a High-Risk Floor to picking up donations monthly at her home from her husband Brian, a stay-at-home dad to their three kids. The Craig's have been very supportive of the work we do.
Jordan recently sent me her donation story through our website and I asked if I could share it here. Below are her answers to my questions.
How did you hear about donating your excess breast milk?
After giving birth to my third child, I pumped as much as I could over my short 5 week maternity leave. I developed over supply. I asked a few friends and colleagues about how to handle the oversupply issue. A good friend, Marissa had already been donating milk and brought up the idea after I asked her to use space in her deep freezers. Initially I was a bit nervous to donate until Penelope was several months old, but I planned ahead and made sure that my stored milk followed all the guidelines that Marissa had been given for her milk.
As a health provider and Mom, what would you says is the most important reason for women to share their excess breastmilk with a milk bank?
Breastmilk has countless benefits especially for the premature or ill newborn. Many of those mothers are struggling to pump a single ounce, or perhaps are pumping for multiples. Others are too ill themselves to establish a good supply, especially after a preterm birth. Donated milk helps the most at-risk newborns have access to the best nutrition.
How did you find time to pump with such a grueling 80 hr a work week?
It took a lot of dedication and multitasking. It also helped that I was further along in my residency, I had more of a supervisory role and was able to step away for brief periods of time. I had a hands free pump. My schedule would be something like this: 430am-nurse baby on one side, 445-515-pump both sides with hands-free set while driving to work. Round on patients from 515-700, then lectures or morning rounds with faculty. After that, a quick pump before heading into the OR or clinic for the day. Then 1-2 more pumpings throughout the day in between surgical cases or office patients, and a one-sided pump on the drive home. On 24-30 hour shifts I just tried to match Penny's normal eating scheduled especially over night. I tried to hold on to work I could do in private like charting, dictating and writing prescriptions or calling patients and do that while I pumped. I also learned early on that it was better to do frequent quick sessions rather than holding off until you have "time" to pump. I pumped in our NICU pump rooms, my office, call rooms, consult rooms and the offices of teaching staff, cars and the women's only physician lounge/lockers. It was insane, but I like to think that I am a very efficient pumper and physician.
What was Brian's reaction to you donating?
Initially he worried that we would need the extra milk. However, we quickly filled up freezer after freezer and then it became a nuisance to have it hanging around and accumulating. At that point he was completely on board! This was around the same time that he began to get more connected in the parenting community, writing his blog and doing his thing, and I think that contributed to seeing the more philanthropic and public health benefits of milk donation. Edited to add: For a fun read, check out Brian's post Lactavalanche.
Your hospital uses Pasteurized Donor Human Milk from IMMB? Did you ever work with a family received donor milk? What was that like?
Certainly I've had many patients who have been milk recipients. I've never really piped up with "that could be my milk!" I also want to remain sensitive to those who are struggling on the supply end. My favorite thought, though is the milk that I donated from right after Penelope's birth was technically "preterm" milk and I always hope that milk went straight to a NICU in our area. It did feel great to donate that milk. The whole process was very empowering and something that I hope other women are willing to consider.
In a strange way, with all of the hard things I saw that year and with all of the mothers that I treated, it was wonderful to know that I was helping babies in my own way.