“Some mothers choose to donate their baby’s milk after a loss. These mothers expressed that they wanted to share their baby’s milk with other babies in need. They also explained that it was too hard to discard their baby’s milk and they wanted to make meaning from their pumping experience. If you would like to donate milk in your baby’s honor, the Mothers Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes in Chicago will accept any and all of this milk. There is no minimum donation amount and it will accept your milk, even if you take medications. You may also choose to participate in “Poppy’s Dream” to have a star engraved with your child’s name and birth date added to the beautiful night sky in the milk bank lobby. Questions? Call 847-262-5134.”
The breast milk collected by the Mothers Milk Bank truly does save other tiny, precious lives. In 201,1 the Surgeon General estimated that among the 1.5% very-low-birth-weight babies born each year weighing less than 3.3 lbs, 12% will develop a devastating condition called necrotizing enterocolitis or NEC. When NEC develops, part of a baby’s intestines becomes inflamed and dies. Many babies who contract NEC become critically ill and need surgery to treat it. NEC is so prevalent and so expensive that NEC treatments alone account for 19% of all newborn health-care costs. This is why in 2011 the U.S. Surgeon General wrote:
“Human milk is vital to the survival of vulnerable [newborns] and plays an important role in addressing the substantial burden imposed by NEC on affected families….”
Study after study has found that preemies who receive even partial human milk feedings leave the hospital earlier and are much less likely to become seriously ill.
There is nothing that can be said to ease your pain or to ease the burden of your loss. This is one way some mothers find comfort and a way to honor the short lives of their babies and to help another mother avoid that devastation. I submit it as a possibility for our grieving mothers of newborns.