Grieving mother donates to Human Milk Bank

A LOCAL mother has shared her painful story to encourage other bereaved mums to donate to the life-saving Human Milk Bank.
Baby Loss Awareness took place earlier this month, and to mark the sombre occasion the Western Trust Human Milk Bank, based at the SWAH, has been advocating the benefits of donating breast milk after a baby is lost in pregnancy or soon after birth.
Human Milk Bank coordinator Liz Bailie urged mothers who had sadly lost their precious babies to consider donating their milk so their baby’s legacy can live on.
“Parents can find that expressing milk for the Human Milk Bank can be comforting which helps the bereavement process. Parental grief is very complex and personal and this may not be a choice for everyone,” she said.
“We have many mums who express for donation following the loss of their baby. One of our bereaved donor mums Maxine McFarland has told us Daniel’s story.”
Below is Daniel’s story, as told by Maxine herself:
“Our beautiful little boy Daniel was born with Edwards syndrome, a rare and life limiting condition. He was a very special boy indeed and we are so grateful for him. Sadly, his oesophagus did not join up with his stomach. This meant that Daniel was unable to feed at all.
“As a mother, my job was to love and feed my baby. Without doubt I could love Daniel and did, but I was unable to feed him in any way. I was devastated.
“With the help of staff at NICU I was able to express and give small amounts of colostrum to Daniel for his comfort and, indeed, mine.
“Later I was given a double pump and all the equipment and advice required to express milk for the milk bank.
“There are some technical and scientific aspects to pumping and storing milk but with support and information I was able to overcome these challenges and get into a routine.
“Daniel lived for 39 hours over three calendar days. He was buried three days later. The first opportunity I had to pump was the evening of his funeral, day 6.
“I pumped off 80mls from very full breasts. I felt positive. I pumped 8-12 times a day for the next three days and got nothing. With self-compassion, I decided to ‘take the next day off’ and perhaps accept that my body would not be able to do this.
“However, when I pumped that evening I got 20mls which encouraged me. The next day I got 40-60mls each pump and was able to donate milk after just a few weeks of approx. 5 pumps a day.
“In my process I was so conscious of how challenging it is for some mums of babies in NICU who perhaps, like me, may not be able to pump milk right away or where supply is affected by medication or shock and stress. These mums really need the milk that other mums can provide, and their babies depend on it. I know firsthand the devastating feeling of not being able to feed your baby.
“I am very grateful that I was able to provide milk for the milk bank and learn that Daniel’s milk helped many premature and surgical babies and hopefully brought comfort to their mummies.”

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