Donating Breast Milk After Loss Can Help Moms Through Grief

Written by Mitha Shameer
Last Updated on

We have all heard about breastmilk donation. But it wasn’t until I lost my baby that I had thought about donating my milk. There are many babies out there who are in need of breastmilk. Your breastmilk can save a baby’s life. And donating my breastmilk to help other babies was definitely a crucial decision that I had to make when I was suffering from my loss.

I lost my baby Jia two years back in 2017. Mine was a smooth pregnancy. My daughter gave me very little trouble throughout the whole time. When I was 32 weeks pregnant, I started bleeding heavily one day. I knew this was not normal. I called my husband immediately and we rushed to the hospital. The doctors performed an emergency C-section. Everything happened so fast and so quick that it all seems like a blur to me even now. When I opened my eyes after the operation, my doctor informed me that Jia was in a critical condition. And there was very little chance for her survival as she lost a ton of blood. The doctors gave us some time so that my husband and I could spend some alone time with our baby. We held her hands and hugged her one last time before she bid her final goodbye.

some alone time with our baby
Image: Shutterstock

My breasts started leaking milk a little later. Even though my daughter was no more, my body wasn’t aware of it. My body continued producing milk like my daughter was still here. And I burst into tears when that thought had dawned on me. My breastmilk was a constant reminder of my daughter.

my daughter was no more
Image: Shutterstock

I had heard about donor milk from the NICU where my daughter was admitted. It was the milk for my daughter and I didn’t want it to go in vain. If I donate my breastmilk, it’s for a better cause. My daughter’s death would mean something. This thought ignited a flame in me to start pumping breastmilk. The milk I pumped was donated to the same hospital where my daughter was treated. The hospital staff informed me that my milk would be used for critically sick and premature babies. I continued pumping breastmilk once I reached back home from the hospital. Because I had the guidance of a lactation consultant I was able to pump without any trouble. I would pump and store the milk in the freezer. My husband would collect it and drop it at the hospital. Later they arranged someone from the hospital to come and collect it from me.

Though I was in a really emotional space, pumping milk turned out to be a healing experience for me. Every time I was pumping and storing breastmilk, I felt my daughter’s presence all around me. I felt proud of what I was doing and it gave me a purpose during those days.

The first few months were traumatizing when all I was doing was drifting through day and night with zero focus. The mornings were particularly long and difficult. Simply getting out of the bed and washing my face felt like a humongous task. Pumping milk is what kept me going. It gave me something to look forward to during those days. I knew all the effort was going to be worth it. This gave me a sense of comfort.

Pumping milk
Image: Shutterstock

Breast milk donation has certainly aided my grieving process. I know it’s an emotional and challenging time for every bereaved mom to decide on donating breastmilk when you have hit rock bottom. But donating breastmilk has helped me in more ways than anything else would have. I’m not saying that it’s a choice you have to make. But it can give you a purpose when you are completely lost and also give purpose to your baby’s life. And if I have donated breastmilk after my loss and found comfort, so can you.

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