When I was 33 weeks pregnant my son Oliver was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction. My first son, George, who is now 3, was born low birth weight and small for gestational age. George had to be in the NICU for several days after birth due to hypoglycemia. When George was in the NICU we didn’t know that donor breastmilk could have been an option for him, so he was supplemented with formula until he gained enough weight for his blood sugar to stabilize. While I am glad that we live in a time when formula is available, I wish we could have given George donor breastmilk instead. 

When I realized that we might be facing a similar experience with Oliver my midwife suggested expressing and storing colostrum to use after birth and looking into donor breastmilk in case we needed to supplement Oliver’s diet until my milk came in. Thankfully, I already knew I could get donor milk from the dispensary at the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, where I am a WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor. I spoke with our Breastfeeding Coordinator, Valerie Koress, and she reassured me that if we ended up needing donor milk it would definitely be available and she walked me through the process of purchasing it. 

Oliver was born weighing 5lbs 8oz, small for gestational age and right on the line for low birth weight. The pediatricians at the hospital were concerned about his blood sugar, but we were able to keep his blood sugar high enough to avoid the NICU with the colostrum I had stored. He did have a few concerning blood sugar readings, so we decided to go ahead and purchase donor milk in order to keep his sugar up and prevent him from losing much weight while we waited for my milk to increase in volume. Val dropped off one bottle the first night we were home from the hospital and two more the following day. My milk transitioned quickly and Oliver remained healthy and at a stable weight. We were overjoyed to have avoided needing the NICU and grateful that, once we were home, we were able to keep Oliver healthy with breastmilk alone. Thank you so much to the mothers who donated the milk!