Mothers Donate Breast Milk To New Mom With Breast Cancer
While 22 weeks pregnant with her second child, Californian Jamie Cottrell Thomas was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Waiting for treatment could have been deadly, so Jamie immediately had four rounds of chemotherapy.
While still pregnant, Jamie reached out to well-known blogger, Jill Krause, and asked for more than good wishes -- she asked her if she could help her find donated breast milk to feed her baby. She hoped the breastmilk would give her the best start possible, despite the in-utero chemotherapy.
Krause, also known as BabyRabies, wrote a post about it the next day: A Warrior Mother Needs Our Help. She was nursing her own child when she read Jamie's letter and hoped that her readers would pull together and help find a way to get breast milk to the soon-to-be mother. Over 100 women left comments, most of them offering to pump and donate their breast milk.
Eventually a nearby mother's group was able to organize its 70 nursing mothers to pump and donate for Jamie and her healthy newborn Amelia-Rae Faith. They were so well organized that they managed to drop off almost 200 ounces before the baby was even born.
Best for Babes got involved as well, and set up the Best for Babes Miracle Milk Fund to help cover the costs of the donation, transportation and any other of Jamie's needs. But it is Jamie's wish that the fund continues and helps other new mothers in in similar positions. Click here for more info.
This is not about formula vs. breastmilk. Jamie fed both to her first child. It is about a mother's wish to counteract the potential risks of chemo through giving her breast milk.
Breast milk was informally shared for centuries until fairly recently. Official breast milk banks are expensive and there is only one in Canada, even though breast milk is recognized as the best thing for high-needs babies.
The rise of social media has brought breast milk sharing back into the spotlight -- groups such as Eats on Feets have made it easier for nursing mothers to donate extra milk for moms need it. But there are even less formal groups going on everywhere. (There was even rumours of lots of breast milk being donated after freezers started defrosting during Hurricane Sandy.) It seems that milk sharing and the desire to help other women and their babies is something that persists, despite the lack of formal processes.
Jill Krause at Babyrabies says in a follow-up post: "Never forget how powerful women are, especially in numbers. We can move mountains. We can feed each other’s children. We can change and save lives."
Would you donate breast milk to a stranger? Would you use donated breast milk?
Want more chaos? Last year, I asked if kids need to learn about Remembrance Day.