We are so sorry for your loss.
We know your heart is grieving, but your body will likely continue responding to your birth, and we are here to help you know the options for your breastmilk. Some women want to do everything they can to stop milk production as quickly as possible, while others want to continue this physical connection to their baby and are reluctant to let it go.
As with all aspects of grieving, there is no right or wrong answer about what to do. Donating your milk is a generous and compassionate act that gives the gift of hope. Donating your expressed milk to a milk bank helps feed premature and/or ill infants whose mothers cannot provide their own milk.
“My son Avery spent his short life in the NICU, so it seems like a fitting memorial to him that other NICU babies can benefit from his milk. It also helps me remember that I am still a mother.”
-from a mother who participated in milk donation
Your Lactation Options
You may have already begun expressing and storing your milk. It is perfectly acceptable to dispose of it, but there are other options to consider for your valuable milk.
Expressing and Donating Your Milk
Expressing your milk can occur for as long as you want, and may be donated in honor of your baby. Milk expressed either by hand or with the help of a pump can be refrigerated up to five days, then stored in the freezer until donation. Any amount of donated breastmilk will be accepted.
Suppressing Your Milk
If you prefer to stop your milk production, there are safe ways to do so. Some helpful tips:
Don’t bind your breasts. Binding is not recommended because it may cause plugged ducts and infection. Wear a supportive sport bra instead.
Cabbage leaf compresses are an easy home remedy that have been proven to reduce engorgement and dry up milk.
Don’t be afraid to relieve discomfort by expressing some milk. Express just enough to soften your breasts, but not enough to empty them completely.
If you experience difficulty suppressing your milk supply, contact your lactation consultant or healthcare provider.
If you have questions about supressing, expressing, storing, or donating your milk, contact your lactation consultant or the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank at (503) 469-0955.
We would like to thank that Maybelle Clark MacDonald Foundation for their generous support of our bereavement programming.