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Like most people, I didn’t even know that you could donate milk before I had a baby.
One day, while scrolling through Instagram, I saw a post by a nurse who was donating her extra milk to the hospital where she worked. That sounded like an amazing idea to me and since my own freezer was filling up, I decided to look into it.
First, I called the hospital where I delivered my baby and they directed me to WakeMed. I learned that the Mothers’ Milk Bank at WakeMed is a little powerhouse that serves all of North Carolina and beyond. I gave them a call and began the phone interview process to get started.
I made my first donation when my baby was 4 months old. She began sleeping through the night very early on so she didn’t need the milk I produced overnight. I went back to work when she was 12 weeks old and that’s when I began a regular pumping routine throughout the day, too.
Pumping is not exactly fun, but donating gave me extra motivation to keep going.
The process to become a milk donor went very quickly for me. After my initial phone interview, WakeMed e-mailed me a packet of information, which included a form for my OB/GYN to sign and a form for my baby’s pediatrician to sign. This was accomplished quickly by fax and I did not have to go in person to see them.
The screening process also required that I get my blood drawn. I scheduled an appointment online and went to the closest collection center on my lunch break from work. It took less than 10 minutes to get in, get my blood drawn and get out. The Mothers’ Milk Bank received my information and I was an approved donor by the end of the week. Now all I had to do was pump!
For my first donation, my husband and I discussed how much milk we wanted to keep on hand for our own baby and what we would consider “extra” beyond that. We held onto 1 week’s worth of milk just in case I got sick or something and donated the rest.
The WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank asks that you donate at least 100 ounces at a time if you live locally and 200 ounces if you will be mailing it in. If you mail it, they provide your packing materials but since I live close by, I was able to pack up a cooler from home and drive it to the hospital.
Each time I was ready to make a donation (I was running out of freezer space), I packed up my cooler and took it with me to work. On my lunch break, I drove to Cary Hospital and gave them a call on the way to let them know I was coming. I called again when I got there and someone came down to meet me in the drop off lane. They had me fill out a form about my donation and they brought a rolling cooler to transport the milk from my cooler to the lab. This drop off process usually took a maximum of about 10 minutes.
To offset some of the cost to donate, the hospital provided me with plenty of milk storage bags which was really nice. I also thought it was nice that they gave me a call after they checked in my milk and told me exactly how many ounces I donated. This made it fun for me to keep track of my running tally: 2,159oz to date!
Each time I made a milk donation, I felt so grateful to be able to do this.
I know many mothers struggle with breastfeeding, and I am really fortunate that this has been such a smooth process for my baby and me. As someone who has had success in this area, I feel particularly motivated to share the wealth.
Donating milk through Cary Hospital is especially rewarding because I know this milk is going to the babies who need it the most. I also really like knowing that there is a sanitation process in place to make sure my milk is perfectly safe for these fragile newborns.
I do not know who receives my milk or how many babies have benefited, directly, but a few mothers have reached out to me through social media and said that their baby received donor milk either at WakeMed or elsewhere and they were so grateful. Hearing about their personal experiences was heartwarming and so motivating.
Since I have learned about the limited supply and high demand for mother’s milk, I have attempted to spread the word a little regarding the opportunity to donate.
As a donor, I’m not seeking praise for what I’m doing. Instead, I want other mothers to become aware and potentially donate milk themselves.
Before I gave birth, I had no idea I was going to be in a position to have extra milk, so I would encourage anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation to consider donating.
Pumping around the clock sure feels like a part time job most days – but if you can make it work in your schedule – what an incredible gift you have the chance to give, and only for such a limited time.
My baby is about to turn 1 and I plan to wean, so my time as a donor is coming to an end soon. I would love to find at least one new donor to take my place. If you feel called to donate, please consider contacting the WakeMed Mother’s Milk Bank to register. I know you will feel so rewarded for your work!
Theresa Welch is a local mom from Cary, NC. She and her husband, Grant, have a 10 month-old daughter named Brooke. When she’s not pumping, Theresa works full time as an inside sales rep for a laboratory equipment company in RTP.
Theresa is also an avid runner and recently completed the Boston Marathon in April 2017 at 6 months postpartum. She likes to run with Brooke in the stroller on the weekends and spend time with their extended family.
Interested in becoming a milk donor, or simply interested in learning more about the WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank? Use the contact information below. Interested in sharing your milk donor story? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Milk Bank Donor” in the subject line.
WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank
1900 Kildaire Farm Road
Cary, NC 27518
Map & Directions
You can support the WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank by making a gift to the WakeMed Foundation and designating it to our milk bank. Donate here.
3000 New Bern Ave.
Raleigh, NC 27610