Offering milk to a friend whose babies will be 2 months prem? Inappropriate? Weird? Disgusting? Invasive? Nice? Supportive? Generous? Opinions wanted please.

(41 Posts)
LifeOfPee Fri 17-May-13 23:02:24

One of my best friends is PG with twins. She's due to deliver them via section within the next few days. She's 31 weeks so they'll be significantly premature.

I am currently BFing my 5 week old DS. I am blessed with an abundant milk supply.

If my friend struggles to EBF both babies would it be odd to offer her some of my milk so she can avoid formula? I know she has been keen to BF both babies throughout her PG but they weren't due to be delivered for another couple of weeks, at least, however one twins growth has slowed right down so delivery has been moved forward.

I know they will only need milk in very small quantities at first, they'll be tiny, but at only 31 weeks PG and recovering from a section I also know she may struggle. She BFed her other two DC, exclusively, for a few days only before moving onto mixed feeding and then swiftly onto fully FF. I don't think she was very confident in her ability to feed them and perhaps wasn't supported or encouraged enough by her partner or mum to keep going and was perhaps a bit squeamish about it.

I don't want to weird her out or make her feel uncomfortable and, obviously, I'll be supporting her 100% in her attempts to express and feed both babies AND if she decides to give them formula (her babies, her body, her choice) but it seems too serendipitous (to me anyway) that I'm making newborn baby milk and she will have two newborns who would really benefit from being EBF. I know it's possible for her to make enough milk and her milk would be better for them than mine but I also know mine would be better for them than formula.

I used to donate milk to the milk bank at Kings College, years ago when I was feeding my DD. I am a BF supporter both voluntarily and paid (when not on mat leave) so I probably have a biased view about all things boob. Having said all of this though I don't really know how I'd feel if the shoe were on the other foot and I were due to deliver premie twins. Would I want her milk? Honestly, I don't know. I just know that if her babies develop any GI problems due to formula (i.e NEC) I will massively regret (understatement) not having offered her some milk.

What do you think? I guess the sensible answer is wait and see smile

busybeeme Sun 19-May-13 21:55:38

My eldest son was born at 28 weeks and right from the off the hospital pushed the importance breast milk and expressing for him, there was a dedicated pumping room in SCBU, breast feeding support nurse etc. So it could well be your friend does receive good support there.

I think an e-mail is a good idea. I did manage to express for my son but if not I don't think I would have been comfortable with an offer from a friend if I had received one. As someone else said your emotions are all over the place when you have a very early baby and I think it would have made my feelings of guilt/failure worse. So giving her the chance to consider without the pressure of face to face sounds good.

It sounds like you are being a very good friend to her

LifeOfPee Sun 19-May-13 21:52:04

Just found out today is National Milk banking day!

Perhaps I could use that as an opener...?

Nicknamefail Sun 19-May-13 21:36:54

I just retread my post and it doesn't make sense and looks like I am saying don't offer. Massive mistype after 8 months of no sleep..... I think it is a great idea and I would be so grateful if I was in your friends position.

mymatemax Sun 19-May-13 20:00:36

sitting in a sterile room with a pump that sounds like a fcking lawnmower with a polaroid photo of your baby in intensive care really did nothing to stimulate my milk supply, stimulated loads of tears but fck all milk!
Any help or advice re expressing would be welcome i'm sure

Featherbag Sun 19-May-13 18:49:13

If you offer and she turns you down, or is offended, please don't take it to heart! My DS was born at the same gestation, and having a prem baby fucked up my head like nothing else ever has. Now, with my sensible, non-post-natal-hormonal head on, I'd say what a fabulous idea, and what a lovely friend you are. However, if you'd suggested this to me just after I'd given birth, I would've told you to fuck off to the far side of fuck. Then a few months later I'd have been mortified when I began to think rationally again!

CelticPromise Sun 19-May-13 18:44:31

I agree that you should offer, lovely idea, and you sound very sensitive to her feelings.

I had DS at UCH, they do offer donor milk there. I don't know what their criteria are but at my local NNU where I volunteer only the smallest and sickest are offered it as it costs a fortune.

Can you offer maximum support to your friend with expressing? It's a few years since I had DS but the support was not brilliant. I didn't learn to hand express properly until I did the peer support course two years later...

Finally, if she lives in NW London there is specialist twin feeding support available- maybe that's the case in other areas?

LifeOfPee Sun 19-May-13 18:28:45

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I'm actually surprised by how many of you have been so positive about it, I thought more people would say "Urgh, no way!" Perhaps posting in AIBU or even chat might have got more of those responses, maybe sticking in the feeding section will only give me nice, safe pro BF answers smile

I like the idea of emailing her the idea to give her the opportunity to say "urgh, no way!" without having to hide it from me if she feels that way. Good points about the logistics of it too. I would imagine I'd have to be screened again and they may want to pasteurise it before the babies get it, is that even possible with a private donation? I would have thought that milk banks usually do all that for the hospitals? Perhaps it might be easier for her to use a milk bank? My offer might open that idea to her if she hasn't thought or been told about it yet? She's at UCLH, does anyone know if they offer banked milk there?

I will offer, via email, and keep it light with no pressure and no hard sell on how much better it would be for her babies than formula milk in case she does end up giving them formula (last thing she needs is to feel bad about what they're eating) and then she can do what she wants with the offer, even if that's ignore it.

mymatemax Sun 19-May-13 17:52:06

you could say that you are going to donate your milk to the milk bank but if she would prefer you would be happy for her to have it.
She may feel more comfortable with an unknown donor.

Branleuse Sun 19-May-13 07:34:37

even if she thinks its a little strange at first, so what.
theres worse things in life than being seen as a bit weird ;)

Branleuse Sun 19-May-13 07:33:09

offer.

just say that if shes ever stuck for breastmilk and she wants to go down that route, then you used to be a donor and you'd be more than happy to help if thats what she wanted.

Eskino Sun 19-May-13 07:24:52

That's a beautiful thing to do. You've brightened my morning smile

Winetime1981 Sun 19-May-13 07:22:53

Also though take into account squeamishness through the 'unknown' entity of your milk. Say you'd liaise with her team and produce documents proving its safety.

Winetime1981 Sun 19-May-13 07:20:39

Lovely idea. But if it were me I'd make the offer face to face. I'd lighten the mood by saying "I've got something I want to ask you but you may think I'm weird/ it weird," - a joke always helps things I think!

Then explain to her that you have agonised over asking her as you'd totally understand if she found it offensive. Then go into it. The highlight would obviously be how beneficial (and sometimes life saving) breast milk can be for premature babies.

If a friend asked me like this, made it quite light and then went into just how much she'd stressed about it I'd be really comfortable saying no if that's how I felt. And if she says yes, fantastic luck for the babies!

You're lovely :-)

mymatemax Sat 18-May-13 23:43:30

yes offfer, but please dont judge or preassurise if she says no initially.
My ds2 was 3 months early & could only manage to express & freeze a trickle ready for when he could take feeds by tube.
by the time his suck reflex had kicked in i ahd stapped producing milk, I felt like such a failure at the time as his shelf in te freezer was almost empty despite him being the sikest baby on the unit & the ony one not receiving milk.
It is a very kind offer and I hope if a friend had made the same offer to em at the time that I would've felt able to accept but honestly I was so upset, confused, worried & every other emotion I really dont know how I'd have reacted.

ravenAK Sat 18-May-13 23:39:12

Yes, lovely idea. I've always regretted not donating milk when I was awash with it.

redwellybluewelly Sat 18-May-13 23:38:45

Oh my god yes do mention it to her, by email would be a great idea in tjat she doesn't then have to decide immediately.

My DD wasn't prem but was very sick in intensive care from a few hours after she was born. I was absolutely determined that she would be breastfed (if she survived) but took myself to the edge of a breakdown trying to get enough milk for her and avoid formula.

In the end with no milk banks and poor BF support I had to mixfeed for a month before I could get sufficient supply (dd losing weight severely, massive massive pressure to move to FF) and I'd have accepted any additional milk gratefully.

I was never blessed with an abundant supply as such but fed until DD was 27months. An incredible journey which could have been easier to begin with had I had a friend like you.

D0GWithAYoni Sat 18-May-13 23:36:02

It's not weird to me. Always makes me hmm when people are grossed out by human bm but will happily feed cows milk. I live in the country those udders are repulsive.

My v good friend (also a mner) had to go to hospital about 2 days after having her dc4 she wasn't allowed to feed baby I offered too luckily she ended up kicking up stink with help of mn and having baby bought back but she didn't think at all odd that I offered to feed her (I was there when she was born and we are like sosters closeness) she was worried about confusing baby and sabotaging bf by introducing a bottle so soon.

Gurke Sat 18-May-13 23:27:49

Lots of good advice here already, esp HarrietVane about practical things to consider about pumping and donating milk.

My DS was 12 weeks premature, completely unexpectedly. One of the nicest things to happen in those horrible, anxious, stressful first days after he was born was to get a text from an old friend (not a majorly close one, but have known him for ages) to say that his wife would be more than happy to donate her breast milk, if I ever struggled. The text came just as I was freaking out about why I couldn't seem to express any colostrum, and why my milk was so slow to come in (I had ZERO help from the hospital). It was such a relief to know there was a backup plan! As it happens I did then manage to google my way to advice on how to start expressing etc and soon had established a good supply. But knowing that there was another option that didn't involve formula made me feel much better.

So: I know everyone is different. But if it was me you'd be offering it to, I'd say let your friend know the offer is there (without going into all the details) - and if she expresses an interest, you can then work out how the mechanics and involve her babies' doctors etc. You're lovely and it's a very kind gesture, however she ends up feeling about it.

UseHerName Sat 18-May-13 21:23:27

wow i didn't breastfeed but my dc had donor breast milk in scbu and if one of my friends had offered what you're offering i would have been overwhelmed with gratitude

<gulp, sniff, sob>

CabbageLooking Sat 18-May-13 21:22:21

You are a lovely person. It is possible that your friend will find the thought a bit weird but I bet they'll appreciate that you are offering a very kind gift. Don't take offence if they say no, but make the gesture. smile

Nicknamefail Sat 18-May-13 21:19:20

Just to emphasise, I think you are lovely.

Nicknamefail Sat 18-May-13 21:18:22

How kind of you. I think not is a great idea. The only word of warning is that some people will think it is gross, and your friend may think this. If she does, hopefully she will get over this and just say no thank you. Just be prepared for this reaction. Although from the title if this thread you probably already are ready for anything.

Lauriepies Sat 18-May-13 17:39:23

I think it is one of the kindest things you could possibly do for her and her babies. I think be honest and say that you understand completely if she feels funny about it but the offer is very much there and you would love to help her if she would like it. She is lucky to have a good friend willing to do this for her so I wouldn't worry about it at all x

If it was me I'd be ringing round my friends asking for any spare milk but then I know other ppl who would be grossed out by the idea of using someone else's milk. I think it's a lovely idea to offer, she can say no.

TreeLuLa Sat 18-May-13 14:21:54

I had DTs early and really struggled to feed them. I did manage to establish bf and ebf till 10 months, but I WISH I had had a kind friend like you and hadn't had to give them formula for the first 3 days.

Yes, offer!
smile

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