The most valuable gift I gave this year -- worked extra hard the past several months to donate just over 300 oz of breast milk! It was shipped via overnight delivery to a hospital in Southern California to give to premature and critically ill babies in the NICU.
Adding in a couple extra pumping sessions a day over the past several months was definitely not easy but I am soo happy I was able to do this, and this little chuckers is clearly happy to share :)
If you have ever thought about doing this, or if you are now thinking of ways you can give back this holiday season, I honestly can't think of a more valuable, precious, and rewarding gift to give to a fellow mother and baby in need. Breast milk donation is the only way a premature baby can receive the proper nutrition through an exclusive human-milk diet. Even if a mother is able to produce her own milk, preemie babies need more protein and nutrition than what her body alone can give. By supplementing with donated breast milk, they can up to triple the amount of protein they receive. (Milk fortifier made from cow's milk or formula can cause problems for premature babies because they are not natural human proteins and the baby's underdeveloped systems cannot always handle the cow protein).
Breast milk donation is also used to help mothers who have problems producing milk, or who are taking medications that her milk unsafe for baby, or if her own milk is otherwise not available in the NICU.
The World Health Organization now recommends that babies are given breastmilk for the first TWO years of their life. For the entire first year of life, the Organization recommends babies receive their mother's milk, donated breast milk, or formula, in that order, as the primary source of nutrition.
I worked with National Milk Bank to give my donation, and I highly recommend going through them if this is something you're interested in -- they were truly incredible to work with, answered any and all questions I had about the process and throughout the screening process, and really made you feel like you are making a huge difference in the lives of these little babes :)