8th October 2013
If you need donated breast milk you most certainly can get it- after being told by midwives and a paediatrician that we could not have any donated breast milk for our daughter we got it (despite not being on the special care baby unit)!
Charlotte Grace was born at 4 weeks premature and became poorly due to quite severe jaundice and low blood sugar levels. On her third day, we were told Charlotte had to go into a incubator for light therapy treatment to reduce her bilirubin levels. Both myself and my husband were emotional wrecks with the stress and worry about Charlotte. This obviously had a detrimental affect on my milk supply (despite constant expressing and cup feeding). I was timing each feed and topping up with any expressed milk that I could get but as the time was going on I was struggling to express any milk at all. To add to the distress, I was informed by a paediatrician that because I could not express enough milk I had to supplement Charlottes feeds with formula and if I didn’t I was putting Charlotte at all kinds of health risks. I was adamant that I wanted to breast feed Charlotte and give her the best start but felt a huge amount of pressure that by doing so I was not doing the right thing for Charlotte. The doctors were concerned that they could not measure in millimetres how much milk Charlotte was getting from me and her bilirubin levels were going up at each test. I asked again about obtaining the donated milk and was told that the ward doesn’t keep it in stock so therefore we couldn’t have it. It was 11pm at night, so I had no other option than to follow their guidance of supplementing with formula. I felt totally useless and as though I had let Charlotte down.
The next morning, I spoke to the breastfeeding support team and told them how upset and disappointed I was that I had to use formula rather than donated milk-they were brilliant! I pretty much received the donated milk for Charlotte within a few hours after our conversation (and a lot of tears). The reason why we were told that we could not have the donated milk was simply because the ward never had that question raised before, so the doctors and mid wives who were looking after us didn’t know how to get hold of it. It just took a form to be completed by the doctors and then signed off by a consultant!
Thankfully, after receiving the milk I was able to feed Charlotte and then give the top up feeds of the donated breast milk (until I was less stressed enough to enable me to produce a sufficient amount myself).
Charlotte is now doing wonderfully and I am now producing an ample supply of milk so I have started donating myself. It was an invaluable support receiving the donated breast milk, so I want to help other Mums and babies who need a little support themselves through their difficult time! X