One of the hardest things for me when I lost my daughter was figuring out what to do with the milk my body insisted on continuing to produce. I remember waking up that first night home after our daughter passed, emotionally in pain and physically in pain. I woke up with boulders on my chest, covered in tears and leaked milk. I didn’t know if I was supposed to just stop pumping. If I was supposed to take a warm shower or use frozen bags of peas or cabbage leaves or if there was medication to take. I just didn’t know and I was hurting. My poor, sweet husband was frantically googling what to do. How to help me. I’m writing this in the hopes that if you are in my shoes, this post helps you know your options and get some relief in whatever way works best for your family.
I previously wrote about my decision to continue pumping and donate breast milk after my daughter passed, but I want you to know that you have so many options available to you. There is no wrong choice. If you want to dry your milk up right away and never store any milk at all, I understand and support you. If you want to donate milk that you’ve already pumped and just pump to dry it up, I understand and support you. If you want to continue pumping for a awhile and donate that milk, I understand and support you. If you want to pump until you put your local dairy barn out of business, I understand and support you. Whatever choice you make is the right choice for you.
If you would like to dry your milk up, here are some tips on suppressing lactation. Your hospital should also have lactation consultants available to assist you. I know if may feel uncomfortable to talk to them at this time, but try to remember that they are there to help and support you. I also found the forums over at La Leche League to be helpful with tips on to assist bereaved moms with drying up their milk.
If you would like more information on donating your breast milk, here are some resources for those of you in North America. In my experience, milk banks will take any amount of milk from a bereaved mom.
If you would like to continue donating milk and need a breast pump, the kind folks at Ardo Breast Pumps offer free double electronic pumps to bereaved moms that want to donate.
Finally, there are some really amazing vendors that make jewelry out of breast milk. I saved a few ounces of my milk with the intention of getting a piece made at some point.
I’m so sorry you need these resources, mama, but know that you are not alone. I’m here and I support you.