When US woman Amy Anderson was grieving the death of her baby son Bryson in 2010, stillborn at 20 weeks, she decided to ignore her doctor’s suggestion to bind her breasts and instead pumped breast milk to donate to parents in need.
“Within a couple days after delivering Bryson, my milk came in,” Ms Anderson told the Philly Voice.
“I knew I wasn’t supposed to pump, as breastfeeding is based on a supply-and-demand relationship.
Ms Anderson said the act of pumping milk was comforting, and it helped her with her grieving process, however she also wanted to do everything she could to help other families avoid the heartbreak of baby loss.
She said after some research she learned about necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), an painful bowel disease that causes parts of the intestines to die, and the second-leading cause of death for premature babies.
The NEC Society said the use of a human milk diet can lower the risk of NEC by 79 percent.
“Because Bryson was so early, my milk was deemed ‘preterm breast milk’ and was very nutrient-rich,” she said.
“(The milk bank) kept Bryson’s milk separate and gave it to the highest of high-needs babies.
“It really was off the charts how phenomenal his milk was. I pumped for eight months to the day.”
Eight months of pumping resulted in 348 litres of breast milk, which was donated to five milk banks in four US states and Canada. The donations led to more than 30,000 feedings.
However, Ms Anderson’s act of generosity was not welcomed by everyone, with her now-former employers telling her she had no right to pump milk because “your baby is dead”.
“These words stung like a second grief. Whether or not I had a baby, I was a lactating woman with physical needs,” she said.
It was enough to make her decide to resign from her job and fight for the rights of all lactating women.
She said she has since heard back from a state legislator who has offered to help.
Ms Anderson now documents her journey through the Facebook page Donating Through Grief: Bryson’s Legacy in an effort to educate others about difficulties faced by families who have lost a baby.
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