Lucedale mom donates breastmilk to moms facing formula crisis
LUCEDALE, Miss. (WDAM) - Parents across the country are facing a troubling situation, wondering where their babies’ next meal will come from.
This is as the nationwide infant formula shortage intensifies. With hopes to ease some stress, one Lucedale mom is stepping up to help in a way, you probably wouldn’t imagine.
Many store shelves are bare of certain baby formulas. However, that’s the opposite for one Lucedale mom when it comes to her freezer.
“I take all my milk and put them in the freezer, and I put the month and year of what it is,” said Ashley McDonald.
Ashley McDonald is a mother of two who is currently nursing her five-month-old son Easton. She is also pumping around the clock which has caused an oversupply in her milk production.
“I don’t know if y’all have ever been to Newk’s, but I was filling up those 32-ounce cups each feeding,” McDonald said.
Now McDonald has a deep freezer full of stored breastmilk that dates to December when her son was born. But he can’t drink any of it.
“My daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called microdeletion syndrome chromosome 15,” McDonald said. “And when my son was born, he was also checked and diagnosed with the same rare genetic disease.”
McDonald said both of her children had to have multiple mouth surgeries that caused them to refuse a bottle. So, the only way to feed has been directly from the breast.
With a nationwide baby formula shortage, McDonald decided she wanted to help other moms, moms who are in fear and panic of not being able to feed their babies.
“So last week my inside freezer and my outside freezer was so packed I couldn’t fit anymore,” she said.
McDonald took to social media to give it away. Her Facebook post was shared over 200 times and many of those shares were from moms from all over needing milk.
“Within several hours I had over 100 moms, grandmas, sisters, reach out wanting to know if they could travel here,” McDonald said. “I had moms from Loxley, Ala., Jackson, Ocean Springs, Biloxi, several people.”
In one weekend McDonald said she gave away more than 1,200 ounces of her breastmilk. So, one question probably looming is: “Is mom-to-mom milk sharing safe”?
Well, studies show if a mother’s milk is unscreened and unpasteurized, there can be risks:
- Viruses and bacteria
- May contain harmful substances like alcohol, medications, nicotine, etc.
- Overall bad milk from being improperly stored.
However, McDonald stressed that she is very careful in what she consumes to make sure her baby and those she donates to are safe.
When mother’s milk is screened and pasteurized it’s typically coming from a milk bank and is considered donor milk that’s mainly used in Neonatal Intensive Care Units, better known as NICUs.
“From what I’ve seen with all my breastfed, I’ve seen the least problems I have is with feeding is with my breastfed babies,” said Dr. Susan McGee, a pediatrician at Family Health Center in Waynesboro. “They come the least because they’re not coming in for reflux problems because breast milk is easier to absorb. The proteins are smaller and easier for the baby to digest. They don’t have constipation. They are not having all this fussiness,” McGee said.
McGee strongly advocates new moms give breastfeeding a try before completely ruling it out. She expressed the importance of “the first milk,” also known as Colostrum.
McGee said the first milk contains a lot of antibodies and enzymes that help protect the baby.
“I don’t know where we went off,” McGee said. “Instead of it only being an option if you really can’t breastfeed, it’s now like a norm, which really should not be because this human milk was made for humans.”
“Formula, even though it has good things in it to help us grow but it can’t replicate breastmilk because breastmilk has life substance in it that you can’t put on a shelf,” McGee adds.
McGee and McDonald both agree they wish there was more encouragement and education for breastfeeding moms, especially during a time like now.
“I couldn’t imagine, I couldn’t imagine pulling up to the store, looking at the formula aisle and knowing I got to go somewhere else to find formula,” McDonald said. “So, knowing that I can just be a small help to someone else is just incredible.”
If a mom is interested in becoming an official donor, there is only one accredited milk bank in Mississippi, Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi located in Flowood.
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