Sunday, October 2, 2011

Milk Banking

Several people have wondered my process when collecting milk for the milk here it goes.

When I first started pumping with MacKenzie it had a purpose that had nothing to do with donating my milk. I had to provide milk for her when I was at work. Therefore, four weeks into her life I began pumping to build up milk and to make sure my body had the hang of things before it was needed. My body most definitely knew what to do and I soon had not enough milk, not some for extra, not a surplus, but an excess of milk. When all was said and done in June (and I stopped working) we had half of a large deep freeze full of milk. So I called the Mother's Milk Bank in Austin (somewhat at the prompting of my sister and some because I realized what a blessing it was and felt it should be passed along) to see what I could do to provide this milk to someone else.

The screening process was fairly simple, but detailed. They first screen you over the phone to make sure that there are no huge red flags that would immediately disqualify you from donating. At this point they tell you to continue pumping as any previous milk can still be donated and your first donation has to be 150 ounces for testing. The questions have a lot to do with any diseases that might pass through the milk and where you may have lived over the past couple of years. After you are pre qualified they send you a packet where you confirm most of the same questions and fill in your doctor and your child's doctor's information so they can confirm that you are of good health and that your child is gaining weight. You also have to get a blood draw which they pay for.

During this time you continue to pump (they need a lot of milk for those little babies). Once you are qualified you drop it off at your nearest drop off site and they send it to Austin to process it and distribute it as they see fit.

So as far as my actual pumping process goes...

Obviously when working I pump when I can to get as much milk for MacKenzie or Keegan and have a bit extra for banking. When I wasn't working this past spring however, this was my thinking...

As soon as she dropped her 7 or 8 a.m. feeding I continue to get up and pump the side she would have fed on. This would usually yield 8-12 ounces which is a lot of milk! When I get up to pump I make sure to have water because I am very thirsty and I make sure I am relatively comfortable because it can take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. I am also usually on my phone to some degree trolling around on the Internet.

After I pump I put the milk into labelled bags or the nifty little plastic containers from the milk bank. I usually put 5 to 6 ounces in the bags or 4 ounces in the containers. This spring I donated most milk and would just bank some for Keegan from time to time.

After this I place the milk into the regular freezer and wait for my stockpile to build. I also make note of what containers I put in the freezer for the milk bank so that I can give an approximate number of ounces because they need that...

Once the milk is in the freezer I hand wash my parts and I am done. From time to time I will boil them to make sure they are extra clean and to get rid of the film that gets on them...

The hardest part of the process is driving out to The Woodlands to lug all the milk and usually both kids into the hospital to drop off the milk. But it is so worth it! As of right now I have donated over 600 ounces from Keegan and I donated 450 ounces with MacKenzie. I am hoping to donate another 200 or so ounces, but I have to make sure my chubby monkey gets her milk too.

Please let me know if anyone out there wants more information on how to donate milk or who to contact for more information. I believe the Mother's Milk Bank in Austin is a wonderful organization and I am so happy to be apart of their great work!

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