I have had three children who were unable to nurse therefore I have to pump. My second child was born at 31 weeks and while my first child received only my breast milk until 16 months it was not until my son did I fully realize how important breast milk was. I would hear the neonatologists beg mothers to pump instead of formula because there was so little donor milk available and babies’ stomachs do not handle formula well. My son was able to start on milk 2 days after he was born because he was getting breast milk. Later I would work with the NICU on playing with how to increase my calorie content of the milk to plump him up. I was able to get my son from 2.6lbs to 19 pounds at one year from good fat milk production.
However, pumping is a very time consuming job. I have to pump for 20 or more minutes 8 times per day, which takes away from my family time. I have been blessed with additional milk that I want to go to other babies but found that the local places to exchange milk were very frustrating and filled with frankly ungrateful people. I love the Mother's Milk Cooperative because of what their mission and values are and what they believe in. I have outstanding communication any time I have questions and yes I had many.
I donated over 16,000 ounces with my first two, but the milk banks never told you what happened to the milk and the NICU would tell me how much they were "charged" per ounce which was outrageous at the time. It left a bitter taste in my mouth that I would work so hard to make the milk, and while I got a "thank you", they were making profits on my donations even though they were nonprofit. I read about the MMC and was immediately impressed that they understood women and what is involved in making milk and how much we care about babies. Women who donate go above and beyond because they know it is going to sick babies.
The coop's Milk Money program has allowed my family to have some great benefits. I have taken the money and took the entire family on an amazing trip to Disney World over Christmas. I used the money as a play fund and keep it separate from the money used to pay bills. Currently we are now taking 1/2 the money I get paid each month (I donate as soon as I can get another set of coolers) for college and the other 1/2 for a Disney cruise next year and some "toys" for my husband and myself. The milk bank gives back their profits to their members at the end of the year and makes milk available for those who cannot breastfeed, which is so wonderful. I cannot express in words how wonderful this program has been for our family.