Milk Donation is Healing for Grieving Families

Milk donation can provide healing to grieving families.

While sitting in grief and trauma, some mothers decide to pump milk meant for their baby and donate it to The Milk bank to help someone else’s child. Bereavement milk donation is truly strength in the face of pain or grief. Bereavement Milk Donors often hear about us from a healthcare provider caring for them after losing their infant during pregnancy or at birth. But there are bereaved mothers who go home not knowing that milk might come in or who don’t learn about milk donation as an option.

Bereavement milk donation provides more than donor milk for fragile babies, it can be healing for grieving families. But how do we walk alongside grieving parents and educate families about the option of milk donation during such a difficult time?

Here are three things for the healthcare community to keep in mind:

You are restoring control. When clinicians discuss lactation after loss, it helps patients make an informed decision about what to do when milk comes in following the death of their child before or at birth. Offering this education not only helps restore a feeling of control, but also improves healthcare outcomes.

You are facilitating healing. Research also shows that bereavement milk donation can support grieving. “For some families, expressing milk is a huge part of the grieving process, a huge part of giving meaning to their child’s life. It’s such a neglected topic but such an important one.” – Diane Spatz, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing.

You are not alone. Discussing milk donation may seem difficult during an already difficult time. We can help. Our team provides free clinical education, Lactation after Loss, created to help healthcare providers learn how to support a grieving mom and offer milk donation as an empowering, healing choice. Contact Sarah Long, Clinical Director of The Milk Bank to setup a training.

What milk donation meant for one bereaved mom.

Recently, a bereavement milk donor in St. Louis shared some pictures and her thoughts after dropping off her milk donation at a local Milk Depot. We reached out to this mother and got permission to share her powerful words.

“Today…I delivered what should have been yours. The only minutes my body refused to cry was while pumping. Hours clutching heat pads & a teddy whose weight matched yours provided just enough comfort to keep going. It was the closest thing to ‘us time’. Although it feels like I’m giving part of you away, I know just how vital your gift is for those precious NICU babes.”

-Bereavement Milk Donor, St. Louis, MO

Learn more about lactation after loss and support our work.

Philanthropy enables us to accept bereavement milk donations, provide free clinical education on lactation after loss, and honor these babies through our memorial tree and private family events. In the months to come, you’ll hear stories about our bereavement program and have the opportunity to support this work. Stay connected through our monthly newsletter.

Hear from a family who was helped by milk donation. At just 3 weeks old, Mary Therese underwent surgery for biliary atresia, a liver condition. Mary Therese’s mom, Terri, shares the importance of donor milk and financial support from The Milk Bank.

Tags: Bereavement

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