Donate Your Milk After Loss
Please accept our sincerest condolences. We know you are bereaved and your heart is heavy. And that your body is most likely still responding to your baby's birth. This may bring you some comfort or it may be an unwelcome reminder of the baby you no longer have.
We acknowledge your feelings; there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Losing a baby is the most difficult thing a mother will ever face.
Some mothers have found comfort and healing by donating their baby's milk to another baby in need.
If you decide on milk donation, please call us for a brief telephone screening. We will guide you through the process by following your lead on how you want to proceed.
To begin the screening process, please contact us at:
"As much as it is a lifeline to babies in the neonatal intensive care unit, milk donation was a crucial part of my own healing; it helped to keep my empty arms busy and saved me from sinking into a black hole of sadness and depression."
~ Janine Lewis, mother of baby Micah
"I pumped for four months in hopes that one day my Mallory would be able to eat. The breast milk was hers. I couldn't think of a better thing to do with her milk than to give other babies an opportunity to thrive."
~ Kimmie McDanel, mother of baby Mallory
We can help by offering options on what to do with your breastmilk:
If you want to cease milk production, periodically apply cold compresses to your breasts. Ask the Lactation Consultant at the hospital how to hand express to relieve pressure.
If you want to donate milk for a longer period of time, pump to empty on a schedule that works for you. You can pump every 4 hours in the beginning. Massage your breasts during pumping. You can eventually space out pumping to every 6 hours as long as you are not uncomfortably full. When you are ready to wean from pumping, pump for less time leaving some milk in the breasts and pump less and less frequently.
If you want to donate some milk for a limited time period, keep your breasts comfortably full. Pump or hand express to relieve pressure but keep the breasts somewhat full. If you become engorged, pump to relieve most of the pressure and apply cool compresses for 20 min. at a time as needed. Continue to pump infrequently to relieve pressure.
Share Your Story
"I want to share my story because unfortunately pregnancy loss, stillborn, or infant loss is more common than we think. A bereaved mother is a tough position to be in but doing something in honor of the precious angel we gained is the best way to heal. Donating my daughter’s breastmilk helped me by knowing that she’s possibly saving another’s baby’s life; even if she isn’t here physically, she’s still a hero! On September 1st 2017 I gave birth to my babygirl April Naomi who unfortunately was a stillborn baby and for as distraught as I was, I wanted my daughter’s name to be honored and what better way to do it than donating her breastmilk to babies in need! I was producing a lot of milk and didn’t want it to go to waste. I was in so much pain emotionally since I lost my first baby but I came across NYMB and they were amazing and supportive in my grieving process. It was a great honor and privilege for me to be able to donate over 2,000 ounces of breastmilk in my daughter’s name. It was also an awesome experience to be able to represent the New York Milk Bank as the first donor in Jamaica Hospital. My daughter may not be here physically with us but her legacy helped babies in need!"
"In the fall of 2018, I was fortunate enough to become a donor for The New York Milk Bank. At the time the decision was simple; I had milk that I could share and I wanted to donate it. In retrospect, I have realized that being a donor was a vital part of how I learned to parent my son.
I first found out about The New York Milk Bank through the hospital where I delivered my son. I distinctly remember having a final conversation with my midwife before being discharged. She asked if there was anything else she could help me with. I asked if she knew of anywhere I could donate my milk. She gave me a worried look falling somewhere between sympathy and concern. Politely, she reminded me that I had barely begun the third trimester, she was uncertain if my body would produce milk. She didn’t want me to get my hopes up. My son had just died. There was no hope, for anything. But I knew there would be milk.
Despite her caution she was able to look up the information for me, and I left the hospital with a piece of paper containing the information for The New York Milk Bank. It was mixed in with dozens of other pamphlets for bereaved parents, and it was the only piece of paper in the stack that I would look at for several weeks. The next morning I woke up, and I pumped. Four hours later, I pumped again. And again, and again. In those early days and weeks amidst the most devastating grief, I pumped. And my milk came in.
My first phone call with The New York Milk Bank was awkward, of course. It always is when you tell someone your baby died. But after the initial shocked condolences, each interaction with them left me feeling appreciated and respected. My contact at the milk bank was one of the very first people who treated my son like an actual person. She immediately began referring to my milk as Richard’s milk, because after all, it was. It made my heart swell with pride just to hear someone speak his name. He and I were doing something, together.
A few weeks after being approved as a donor I had over 300 ounces of milk and was ready to make my first donation. A few weeks after that, I had 200 more. Each time I labeled a bag with a date, name, and number of ounces I grew a little more as a mom. Milk. Love. Something I took so much pride in being able to give to my daughter, I was now also able to give in honor of my son.
Being my daughter’s mother has always come easily to me. Being my son’s mom has been much more of a challenge. I didn’t know how to parent a child that I did not have the privilege of raising. I had no idea what that world looked like, and sometimes I still don’t. But after my son died, donating his milk was the first thing I was certain of. As my world came crashing down, it was the only thing that made sense.
Although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, donating Richard’s milk helped me take those first frightening baby steps into living a life after his death. It showed me that the love I am able to give my son will always look different than the love I am able to give my daughter, but it will never be second best. And it taught me an early lesson in how to parent and love my son. I will always look back on being a donor as a bright spot during a time of chaos, and I will always be grateful that my love had somewhere to go."
New York Milk Bank Donor, Elisabeth, has shared her story of deciding to donate her milk after the death of her baby boy at 19 weeks and 2 days on her blog. Click here to read about her experience.
Here are some helpful resources:
Offers support and education about the grief process and connects fellow bereaved parents, siblings, and grandparents who can offer support to each other and to each newly bereaved family.
Specializes in online support and referral services for families grieving the loss of a child.
Hotline manned by trained COPE Line volunteers who can provide resources, referrals, information, and emotional support.
A non-profit foundation dedicated to providing grief support and education.
Grief Share groups meet weekly to help face challenges and move toward rebuilding your life. Each Grief share session has three elements: video seminar with experts, support group discussion with focus, and personal study with reflection.
Provides grief support, education materials, and hotline.
Facilitates support groups and workshops.
Online support community and provides resources and education materials upon request.
Assists in meeting the needs of people facing perinatal death, the death of a baby from miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, or early infant death.